Final Words

It's nice to know that the problems ATI have had in the past with getting a product out on launch date are a thing of the past. We saw many of these AIW X1900s on sale on the day of release with a hefty price tag of around $500. The price has gone down slightly since then, and you can currently get one of these cards for about $455, which is still fairly expensive. Given the capabilities of this card however, the price makes sense. The All-In-Wonder X1900 is the AIW for those who want the best possible performance in games, while still being able to record and watch video on their computer. We've mentioned before that these cards are somewhat specialized and a large part of their attractiveness is their gaming and multimedia features in one easy-to-use package. Many users might opt for the lower price or better features of having a separate graphics card and home theater card instead.

We've seen now how well ATI does with DVD processing, and the benchmarks show that ATI does a better job at this overall than NVIDIA. Here are the final HQV benchmark scores.

ATI: 111 NVIDIA: 68

These numbers represent the total numbers for each test added together for each card. As we can see ATI scores better overall than NVIDIA, which is interesting considering NVIDIA's PureVideo decoding was consistently better than ATI's software in the past. What is important to keep in mind however, is that certain tests could be considered more or less important to individual users depending on what types of video they will be dealing with. For example, while ATI gets a better overall score, NVIDIA still does a better job at picture detail (sharpness) than ATI, so that might be a factor to consider when looking for a decoder. Also, some of the tests may not apply at all to your situation, like the mixed film with horizontal and vertical text. If you don't watch news channels with scrolling text you may never have a need for this option.

Where NVIDIA loses the most points is in the Film Cadence tests, as well as the Noise Reduction test. We can conclude then that these benchmarks show that ATI has a wider set of capabilities in their DVD decoding than NVIDIA does. Add to that the fact that ATI's DVD decoder is free to ATI customers while NVIDIA's PureVideo decoder costs an extra $30 and ATI definitely has a winning solution on their hands.

With ATI leading now in the "king-of-the-hill" game of graphics solutions, we now look to NVIDIA for a response, while wondering what's in store for graphics in the semi-long term. If performance continues to increase at the rate that it has been, we aren't sure how game software will be able to keep up. We are always happy when we see advancements in technology, but the huge sizes of some of these high end cards make us think better efficiency might be good direction for graphics hardware to move toward. But of course, advancements in hardware performance will always leave the door open for game software to advance, which is good news for everyone.
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory Performance


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  • CleanBoot - Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - link

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

    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.
  • ianken - Monday, February 13, 2006 - link

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


    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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