The New ATI Lineup

All told, ATI is launching 5 new products based on two new cores this fall: 3 cards in a new 2 slot line dubbed X850 (based on R480), and 2 cards rounding out the lower end of the X800 line (built on the R430 core). Upon seeing the full list of new cards offered, we were very interested to see just how the performance numbers would fall out. From the MSRPs ATI gave us, the targets are quite apparent. Here's a quick rundown of exactly what we're looking at.

ATI R480/R430 Product Lineup
 
Corec
memc
ppipe
ddvi
mem
fab
price
Radeon X850 XT PE
540
1.18
16
yes
256
0.13
$549
Radeon X850 XT
520
1.08
16
yes
256
0.13
$499
Radeon X850 Pro*
520
1.08
12
no
256
0.13
$399
Radeon X800 XL
400
1
16
no
256
0.11
$349
Radeon X800
400
700
12
no
128
0.11
$249
*Radeon X850 Pro clock speeds are not yet final

This time around, ATI thinks we are ready for a new ultra high end price point. The inclusion of the X850 XT Platinum Edition at $549 is a real product this time around, as opposed to the previous X800 XT PE as a kind of ATI sanctioned overclocked version of the X800 XT.

With the extra 20MHz over the X800 XT PE core, and the effective memory clock boost of 60MHz, the new X850 XT PE will put in a top showing across the board. Actually being available this time around means that we have a significantly faster card available to anyone who wants it. If we consider the former top of the line to be the more available X800 XT (with 500/1GHz clocks), then we are looking at maximum theoretical performance gains of 8% (40MHz core clock increase) for processing intensive games. Of course, the increase in memory clock will help push that ceiling up in some cases (especially when we start looking at bandwidth intensive high resolutions with AA and AF enabled).

Currently the X850 XT PE doesn't have any formal competition from NVIDIA in the form of a sanctioned part. It may have been possible to find a 6800 Ultra Extreme on the market if one looked hard enough and had the money to spend, but at this point the top of the line NVIDIA product we can put up against the ATI's line will be the 6800 Ultra. That may change if NVIDIA decides to bring out something new, but we still haven't heard what they have in store for us. Only time will tell, but for now we can expect the X850 XT PE to perform (and cost) head and shoulders above anything NVIDIA has on the table.

In terms of power consumption the X850 XT PE breaks new records for single card power consumption as it drew more power than its predecessor as well as NVIDIA's GeForce 6800 Ultra:

Peak System Power Consumption

The X850 XT looks to be almost the same product the X800 XT PE was. The only difference is a slight drop in memory clock (an effective 40MHz). We can expect roughly the same performance we saw from the older, impossible to find, part. We never saw anything but an AGP version of the X800 XT PE in our labs. In any case, the tiny difference in memory clock isn't going to make much of a difference in the performance of this new part and the older one, and probably just adds a tiny bit of headroom. ATI is hinting at the fact that they may have a new version of their overdrive software (with a little more user control) coming down the pipe. Maybe even this part, with its huge cooling solution and PCI Express power, will have a little room to fly. We'll have to wait until we get a shipping card in our labs to determine that though. From the NVIDIA side, the GeForce 6800 Ultra is the current competitor to the X850 XT, and we will be putting this part to the test in our benchmarks to see how it stacks up.

The X850 Pro looks to be a filler part. The difference between the XT and the Pro will be the 12 pixel pipelines, and the fact that the Pro will come in a DVI + analog configuration rather than the dual DVI setup of the two higher end models. The current X800 Pro has its clocks set at 475/900. The new X850 Pro will bump the performance of this up a bit (as well as add about $100 to what current X800 Pros are going for). The NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT could  have some heavy competition from this part if ATI got some performance out of it, but the older X800 Pro wasn't always able to keep up with the 6800 GT either. This higher clocked part just might have what it takes if ATI can put a little more power into it before it's clock speeds are officially set in stone. But that's one of the things we'll have to wait to find out.

The new X800 cards won't be available until January, and we don't have any actual samples in our labs yet. ATI only sent their flagship X850 XT Platinum Edition out to reviewers, but since all of the X850 and X800 cards use clock variations on shipping GPUs we could look at the performance of all of ATI's launches today using other cards clocked to lower (or sometimes higher) speeds.

The X800 XL and X800 cards are supposed to fall within the current X800 line in performance. ATI lists the X800 between the X800 SE and X800 Pro, and the X800 XL just above the X800 Pro. Unfortunately, we haven't located any 12-pipe NVIDIA GeForce 6800 PCI Express solutions, so we can't round out the comparisons on the low end as much as we'd like.

The X800 XL will be a cheap way to get the benefits of 16 pixel pipe parallelism, even if overall bandwidth is reduced by core clock speed. This makes it more appealing than some slightly higher clocked 12-pipe cards in many ways. There is some trade off though: since all the X800 series cards have 6 vertex pipelines, higher clock speed does directly translate to better geometry performance. This will be a fun part to watch in the benchmarks.

At the lower end today, we have the X800. This is just a 12 pixel pipe part with lower core and memory clocks than the current X800 Pro. This should leave us with very similar performance characteristics to the current X800 Pro, just at what ATI is calling a $250 price point. We haven't seen the 8 pipe X800 SE selling at that price on the AGP side. With the X700 line pushing up against 250 from below, this could be very good for the midrange consumer.

Index Lightning Fast, and CPU Bound
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  • dripgoss - Tuesday, December 07, 2004 - link

    "pricing for the "high end" cards is utterly ridiculous..."

    The rules of supply and demand are in full effect here. When the card companies see people selling X800XTPE's and 6800U's on ebay for $600-$800, they feel justified MSRPing at $500+. Basically, they do it because they can!

    What I'd like to see is one of the companies take the initiative and release a high end card at $300 (and have the supply to back up the launch). That'll make the other gpu companies scramble. But I doubt that'll happen any time soon since they're all just riding high on the hog right now...
    Reply
  • MadAd - Monday, December 06, 2004 - link

    1920x1200 GAMING BENCHES PLEASE! :¬) Reply
  • Live - Friday, December 03, 2004 - link

    It looks like using the Catalyst A.I. optimizations will let the X850 XT PE tie and even surpass the 6800GT in DOOM 3.

    From the conclusion at vr-zone.com:

    When you look at the R480 part we've tested today and compare it to NVIDIA's current high end PCIe offerings, the winner is ATI on every front. With Catalyst A.I. enabled, the ATI Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition is able to at least tie, but usually outperform the 6800GT in Doom 3 tests. In our other game tests, the results all swing in ATI's favor, with the ATI Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition fastest in every other test.

    the ATI part cost a lot more tough but still interesting stuff. hopefully we will read more about this as these cards hit retail. If there is no visible quality penalties I don't see any reason to not include these figures in future tests.
    Reply
  • Live - Friday, December 03, 2004 - link

    It's good to see that AnandTech uses an AMD CPU when testing a card for gaming. Many other sites still uses Intel which seems stupid after the same sites have been crowning AMD CPUs the king of gaming for a long time now.

    I still would like to see some indication of the lowest frame rates or at least some way of seeing the consistency of this average frame rate. If a card shows FPS just over 30 in Doom 3 it might be playable if the FPS is evenly spread. But if it jumps up when not fighting and down to rock bottom while you are its hard to call it playable, even if the average frame rates are the same.
    Reply
  • bldckstark - Friday, December 03, 2004 - link

    I think maybe Tech sites should stop publishing articles on pre-market parts. That way they would have to have parts available on store shelves or they get no publicity. I am a motorcycle enthusiast also and it is almost the same type of hobby in that you don't get to try what you are buying. You are dependent on the media to test and poke and prod to find the ins and outs of all the options, then you sift through and go buy it. Motorcycle media does not test pre-production machines.

    Know what you get if you cross Bill Gates and Hugh Hefner?

    Already happened - it's called internet porn.
    Reply
  • fuzzynavel - Friday, December 03, 2004 - link

    They charge $500 because they can....If people stopped buying them then they would have to drop the prices....but seeing as people keep paying then they are not going to drop the prices! Reply
  • rslayerr - Thursday, December 02, 2004 - link

    well...just a little comments,well,i dont understand why people always say that ati's high end card are not in store,,,etc...
    well im in quebec,canada and here..i can buy those almost everywhere...look like you guys are from the "states?"?must have some kind of advantage here since ati his canadian..or maybe a question of number of population..
    Reply
  • Googer - Thursday, December 02, 2004 - link

    Reminds me of the ATI 9700pro, It's a GeForece Killer! Reply
  • Araemo - Thursday, December 02, 2004 - link

    While I'm an ATI fan, I'll fully admit that this refresh was disappointing, unlike the poster above who is 'so tired' of people complaining about the X800 being old technology..

    I seem to recall that being the same complaint leveled against the Geforce3 series back around the same time the (New) 8500 series came out?

    And the Geforce 4 MX..

    that is still essentially a Geforce 2?

    This is what these companies do. This time around, nVidia wins. Next round... who knows?
    Reply
  • segagenesis - Thursday, December 02, 2004 - link

    I remember when a good SVGA card would have cost $500 or more... prices are all relative. But yeah, it is disappointing that say 2 years ago $400 would have bought you the highest of the highest end and now you would have to spend $500+ to achieve that. Bleech! And why are these companies competing with themselves? (6600GT vs. 6800?) Reply

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