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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  • Araemo - Thursday, December 2, 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 2, 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
  • Momental - Thursday, December 2, 2004 - link

    #50 I can understand what #47 was saying about being "brainwashed". It wasn't too long ago when $350 really woulda gotten you the SuperDuper Ultra MackDog 730Xi 120G viddy card. It's like the price of gas: I can remember when I thought $1.83 per gallon was highway robbery and now, when I see $2.09, I practically run over joggers as I cross the sidewalk to be next in line at the pump. Knowhuddamean? ;)

    We're all so used to thinking that $350 is a "great" price whereas 3 years ago, we woulda been hard-pressed to spend that much. But, who am I kiddin'? I'd gladly fork over #349.95 plus shipping for a card that allowed me to fly with my hair on fire down some zombie-infested corridor with hellspawns in tow if I knew it'd get me an excellent frame rate! :D
    Reply
  • xsilver - Thursday, December 2, 2004 - link

    also forgot to add -- I just think that its ATI giving more info on their processess while nvidia just say its a kickass card and keep the manufactuiring secrets to themselves Reply
  • xsilver - Thursday, December 2, 2004 - link

    I would like to ask why ATI has all this hoopla about using TMSC "low k" process or some other crap -- doesn't Nvidia also use TMSC -- therefore they would both have the same processes availble to them? or is TMSC favouring ATI? If I was nvidia and that was the case -- id be pissed and take my buisness elsewhere Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Thursday, December 2, 2004 - link

    The whole point of today's launch is the X800 XL. It's a good enough competitor to 6800 GT and that I think is what ATi needed the most. Let's just hope the price is really $350 or less and that we can acctually buy these things soon.

    And AGP in NOT DEAD! WTF are you talking about man?!? At present ALL AMD market is still 100% pure AGP and not too many people will be switching over to nForce 4 anytime soon, because without SLI there is little point and with SLI it's just too prohibitive due to price (for now) and PSU requirements (forever). 5 molexs just too run a card that's at lest worth running in SLI - not the 6600GT? Mind you I have a VERY good PSU and I don't have 5 spare molexs. Do you?

    PCIe won't take off until untill we get a good reason. They wanted to force us by only offering new cards as PCIe, but nVidia screwed them with the bridge chip (6600 GT AGP - ATi only has an old R9800Pro to compete with here) so now they're playing catch up. Looks like they still have some way to go -- january 05. And then before availability picks up, .... man we're looking at spring 05 before ATI gets at lest close to nVidia and then we get R520 with SLI, and a new nVidia lineup ... blah too much of everything. Let's just wait and see. I'm preety happy right now (NF3 250GB,A643200@3400+(220FSB)/R9800Pro), I can wait.
    Reply
  • KoolMonkey - Thursday, December 2, 2004 - link

    ATI it seems wants to bury AGP but will be forced to release new cards in the spec as the market is still hugley AGP at present and won't change in drastic numbers for quite awhile. I have an ATI X800XT PE AGP card and would have liked to have seen Anandtech include this in their comparisons. Why didn't you include ATI's best AGP card vs ATI's best PCI-E card? Reply
  • Avalon - Thursday, December 2, 2004 - link

    Also, forgot to note the X850XL is a PCI-e only part, so that will also be a determining factor in which card you'll buy. Regardless, if it can overclock like I have a good feeling it can, it will be arguably the best bang for the buck card in ATI's arsenal. Reply
  • Avalon - Thursday, December 2, 2004 - link

    Brainwashed? What are you talking about? You just admitted the card was the best price/performance ratio of all the current ATI cards, and then go on to say it's not a great card? I guess that means the 6800GT is not a great card either. I'm tired of people complaining about the ATI cards being "old tech". It's a video card. It performs. What else do you want? It's not a great card because it doesn't support SM3.0? Give me a break. A lot of people could care less about that feature. It's certainly not widespread enough for the average gamer to care. If you want SM3.0, get an Nvidia card. Otherwise, the X800XL is very close to the 6800GT in most benchmarks, and is $50 less, PLUS it's a 110nm chip. Slap a good HSF on the thing and you should have some GREAT headroom, assuming the 110nm process isn't a disaster for ATI, which I doubt it'd be, since they've toyed with it before. Reply
  • Staples - Wednesday, December 1, 2004 - link

    Yay for another dumb naming convention. ATi did this intentionally and I hope it turns people off to the brand. They did this with the R300 too but it is even worse this time, they all have 850xx in the name. As for me, I will be sticking with my 6800GT, these new cards are not much faster and the cost for the small performance gain is ridiculous. Reply

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