Introduction

It seems that ATI has been releasing a constant stream of new or rebadged graphics cards lately, and it looks like this month won't be any different. Today is quite a special treat: ATI has integrated new CrossFire specific features onto the GPU itself. The release of another part at the $200 price point after ATI's recent price drops and re-badging would otherwise seem redundant, but the advantages of the changes ATI has made to CrossFire really bolster its ability to compete with NVIDIA's SLI.

The new Radeon X1950 Pro is a pretty heavy hitter at $200, bringing slightly faster than the current X1900 GT performance to a slightly lower price point. With the X1900 GT currently being phased out, we would expect nothing less. This will certainly help strengthen ATI's ability to compete with the 7900 GS at the $200 price point, and might even make the X1950 Pro a viable option over some more expensive overclocked 7900 GS parts.

In spite of the fact that ATI is using TSMC's 80nm process, we don't expect to see very many overclocked versions of the X1950 Pro, as the high transistor count, large die size and high speeds tend to get in the way of stable overclocking. We will certainly be testing out the overclocking capabilities of the X1950 Pro when we get our hands on some retail versions of the cards (overclocking with reference cards doesn't always give an accurate picture of the products capabilities). For now, we'll just have to wait and see. In the mean time, we've got plenty of other things to explore.

For this look at ATI's newest graphics card, we'll take a peek at the details of the RV570 hardware, what differences have been introduced into CrossFire with the new silicon, and performance of single and multi-GPU configurations from the midrange through the high end. We will find out if the X1950 Pro is really a viable replacement for the X1900 GT, and whether or not the enhancements to CrossFire are enough to bring ATI on to the same playing field as NVIDIA.

 

RV570 and the Demise of the X1900 GT
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  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, October 17, 2006 - link

    First of all, every site uses their own benchmarking techniques and sequences in the games. Numbers between review sites won't be comparable.

    For Quake 4 we used ultraquality mode, and this seems to give ATI the advantage over NVIDIA. We don't have a problem with this because we would prefer to tip the scales in favor of the product that can deliver the best performance at the highest image quality.
    Reply
  • munky - Tuesday, October 17, 2006 - link

    Would you rather Ati continued to ship the x1900gt with the original specs, and then a bunch of the cards would have to be RMA'd? Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, October 17, 2006 - link

    We would rather they just run out of x1900 GT cards. They're discontinuing the line anyways, so it seems a little strange to try to increase supply by underhanded means. Reply
  • sri2000 - Tuesday, October 17, 2006 - link

    They should ship it under a different model number. Call is the X1900 GTA or something like that (or some other alphabet soup combo that's not already taken) so that people can tell that the different model# = different performance.
    Reply
  • Goty - Tuesday, October 17, 2006 - link

    You guys are ragging on this CF implementation like it's some sub-par solution. The transfer speed may be lower than that used by NVIDIA's SLI bridge, but SLI is simplex while this implementation is full duplex. Being able to send data in both directions at the same time should provide a huge speed boost while using ATi's SuperAA modes. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 17, 2006 - link

    Scalability is the key factory. In most benchmarks, SLI gets more of an improvement than CrossFire, indicating that the compositing engine is not an optimal multi-GPU solution. There's almost certainly a decent amount of overhead involved. We do like the new CF connector, but the proof is in the pudding. If 7900 GS is clearly slower in single card configs but often faster in dual-GPU configs, clearly SLI is scaling better than CF. Reply
  • mesyn191 - Friday, October 20, 2006 - link

    I don't think its possible to comment on the new CF at all, they've clearly got screwed up drivers for it ATM, but then its ATi so what else is new...

    I hope AMD cleans up thier driver team because still even after all these years ATi does a half assed job on its drivers.
    Reply
  • Goty - Tuesday, October 17, 2006 - link

    Are you guys thinking of doing any testing with any of either vendor's multi-card AA modes any time soon? I really think the full duplex connection would really help there (i.e. the cards may not scale as well with the number of cards, but what about as the image quality increases?) Reply
  • Rza79 - Tuesday, October 17, 2006 - link

    The Tech Report had problems with this motherboard and Crossfire which made them switch to the Asus P5W DH.
    You aren't expiriencing any problems with this board?

    Second thing, why no AA with games like B&W2 and FEAR?
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, October 17, 2006 - link

    No problems with the motherboard.

    AA performance under Black and White 2 and FEAR were excluded because we decided framerate was already at a minimum for the resolution we were testing.
    Reply

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