Introduction

ATI is no-doubt enjoying the limelight lately with the release of the X1900, which is no surprise considering their new card puts ATI back in the lead over NVIDIA in the performance category. With some form of the 7800 GTX so long on the top of that list, it's kind of strange seeing an ATI card take its place, especially given the timing of the release and the short lifespan of the X1800 series. Now that ATI has these incredibly powerful cards available to consumers, we're interested to see how future games will put this card to good use.

ATI has been successful with their All-In-Wonder line of multimedia graphics cards, and have been good about making them available on a wide variety of their cards. We recently reviewed the AIW 2006 which was based on the X1300, and ATI have apparently wasted no time in coming out with an All-In-Wonder card based on their newest part, the X1900.

The All-In-Wonder X1900 is the latest thing from ATI and it promises the same quality (if not better) of video and multimedia features we've seen before, on a card with the highest in gaming performance. Until now, the X1800 XL All-In-Wonder was the most powerful version of this card, and we were impressed by its performance. However, the X1900 AIW will obviously be better for gaming, even if it's not quite as powerful as a stock X1900 XT.

Many of the multimedia/video features remain the same as the previous versions, so we will be touching briefly on each feature for those who aren't familiar with what the AIW offers. Because the GPU is clocked lower than a standard X1900, gaming performance will be something for us to look at, and we will be testing the AIW X1900 against a wide range of cards, including the standard X1900 XT and XTX. We've already reviewed a few different All-In-Wonder graphics cards, but for this one, there will be a slight change of focus.

Video quality is something we sometimes take for granted when talking about digital video. Different DVD players can sometimes differ greatly in image quality, and these differences are not all subjective. We will be looking closely at how ATI's latest drivers handle digital video processing with a special HQV benchmark on this card, and we'll also be looking at how it compares to NVIDIA's decoding. There have been some changes by ATI which address some decoding problems in the past, and we're interested to see how well they've done. For now though, lets look at the All-In-Wonder X1900.

The Card and The Features
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  • CleanBoot - Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - link

    As one who has been waiting for you to revisit this issue--
    quote:

    We will be looking closely at how ATI's latest drivers handle digital video processing... [and] how it compares to NVIDIA's decoding. There have been some changes by ATI which address some decoding problems in the past, and we're interested to see how well they've done.

    --I'm glad to see ATI back on it's feet, after falling down so clearly, though unexpectedly, when you last compared it's "entertainment video" capabilities against Nvidia's.

    However, I'm unclear under what restrictions --if at all-- these results can be extrapolated to other ATI offerings.
    I understand you were testing "ATI's latest drivers," but is the improved digital video processing ONLY a function of the new drivers (as opposed to new drivers taking advantage of new or improved silicon on the AIW X1900 PCB...), and if so, what other recent vintage, non-AIW, ATI cards will yeild the same improved performance, using the same new drivers?
    Or, if the improved results are a matter of BOTH new drivers AND new hardware, what other non-AIW cards in the ATI pipeline will provide both of these elements, and when and at what cost will they become available?

    Thanks & Keep up the PFEGL work.
    ("performance_far_exceeding_grade_level")
    Reply
  • ianken - Monday, February 13, 2006 - link

    ...I have the HQV test DVD and the results are somewhat different on an X1800.

    Anyway...

    Noise Reduction: Unless you're watching analog TV you don't want this enabled at all. Is the ATI decoder actually doing noise reduction or is it just mangling the video?

    Wacky film cadences: This I find amazing that the card passed all of the funky cadences. Want a real test: watch the re-runs of Star Trek: TNG on Spike. They are time-compressed. If they are nice and smooth on the ATI solution they have a real winner there.

    I'd alos like to know if all of these tests pass when the DVD is run within Media Center.
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Monday, February 13, 2006 - link

    One of the main features of the new cards from S3 is the video decoding features. Obviouslly they can't compete with the high-end nVidia and ATI cards for gaming performance, but they are supposed to be good for DVD playback and the like.

    How about getting hold of an S3 Chrome S27 (their "high-end" card) and putting it through the tests comparing video playback quality, and also how it compares performance-wise to equivalent nVidia and ATI cards (6600, 6600GT, X700, X1300, X1600 sort of price-range). There are more than two companies that manufacture graphics-cards after all.
    Reply
  • ianken - Sunday, February 12, 2006 - link

    ...of course applying noise reduction to a clean DVD just means you are removing detail. Unless the ATI decoder has the ability to disable this feature I wouldn't call it a bonus. On the other hand it looks like the NV decoder is actually preserving all detail in the MPEG2 video rather then smearing it around.

    A alos seriously doubt the ability of the ATI decoder to lock all of those cadences.
    Reply
  • aggressor - Saturday, February 11, 2006 - link

    I have an X1900XT, and I'm wondering how to tell if I'm actually using the AVIVO capabilities. I use (retail) PowerDVD6 which includes it's own software decoder, and I'm using the Catalyst 6.2 drivers. Anyone have any ideas? Reply
  • Innovato - Saturday, February 11, 2006 - link

    Any idea if the new core will support crossfiring with the AIW? I've read beyond3d's explanation w.r.t. 1800's. Xfiring would probably help out with the slower gpu/memory benches? Reply
  • multiblitz - Saturday, February 11, 2006 - link

    I think this is a great test. Nevertheless if you want to benchmark their DVD-performance, conpare them as well with benchmark: zoomplayer with dscaler5 with ffdshow in VMR9 with activated scaling, denoise and sharpening.

    And as many users use a HTPC because they have have a high-resolution plasma or projector and want to have a DVD-player with a build in hig-end-scaler: TEst the scaler ability as well, please.

    Bottom line will be at the current stage that the lanczos 4 sclaing of ffdshow in combination with the great sharpening capbilities are unbeaten.

    So, if someone is not watching TV, but DVD and want the best quality, he can forget the latest cards as they still cant compete. Instead, you should invest in a nice dual-processor CPU and a not so fresh card like the X800 to get superior performance (for DVD) for the same / less money.
    Reply
  • yacoub - Saturday, February 11, 2006 - link

    Any update on the G80 release schedule? Still looking like May/June? Want to see what NVidia responds with, both to see how it performs and to see how ATI's X1900 series card prices come down. Reply
  • Humble Magii - Saturday, February 11, 2006 - link

    The Nvidia 7900 demolishes the X1900 which is why ATI got it out the door asap. ATI can't compete with an old solution from Nvidia the 7800 so they put out a x1800 which was half a year late therefore a new release then the x1900 even newer and it still can't literally demolish every Nvidia product. ATI did get the hardware out en masse which is good but I hope they sort out their driver quality problems not to mention ATI IQ which alot think is better is showing to be worse in alot of cases. ATI does alot of things which make you think you are getting high quality but aren't not that Nvidia is innocent here either.

    Nvidia really doesn't need to release anything since the X1900 isn't much of a king of the hill line ATI still can't beat 7800GT 6800GS cards and the top of the line doesn't really run that much faster but the price? Only card that is overpriced for Nvidia is the 512mb card and it's still a better design overall than the ATI counterparts.

    We have to wait and see what the DX10 capable cards are like because when Nvidia decides to let the 7900 loose the x1900 is history. Think 512mb GTX but gets double the rates and you can conjure an image of how strong that card is. The x1900 isn't much of a step up from a x1800 only reason to buy an ATI card is an AIW card honestly.

    Any ATI card under a x1800XL or x1900 is crap ATI wise.
    Reply
  • z3R0C00L - Saturday, February 11, 2006 - link

    Humble Magii,
    So you're one of those Fanboys who get's nVidia hardware in exchange for comments like this huh...:p

    Stop with the fanboy crap.. seriously.. it's gettng old.
    Reply

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