Graphics - Published on Wednesday, 30 August 2006 20:22 Written by Marcus Hultin
ATI has done a really great job with its latest addition to the graphics card market and it is really just one detail that stops the card from being the fastest card today, its performance. Radeon X1950 XTX is without a doubt the fastest single-GPU graphics card on the market but as our tests have shown it is still NVIDIA that has the "fastest graphics card" in the form of GeForce 7950GX2. The performance is of course one of the most essential parts of a graphics card and if you would only focus on the FPS NVIDIA's monster card would be hard to beat. Unfortunately its dual-GPU architecture has appeared to be far from fault-proof and it's not just Quad-SLI systems but also systems with only one GeForce 7950GX2 card have displayed compatibility issues. Our own test system did not work satisfactory with GeForce 7950GX2 to begin with and we needed a fix for our Intel 975-based motherboard to make NVIDIA's graphics card perform as it should. Compatibility problems and worse image quality when compared to ATI's new graphics card series therefore puts NVIDIA's flagship to shame. ATI has no compatibility problems with its X1950/X1900 series as far as we know and after struggling with GeForce 7950GX2 for a long time we know how annoying this can be. At the same time we should tell you that NVIDIA's flagship is really nice when it works as it is suppose to.
What is perhaps the biggest advantage of Radeon X1950 XTX is ATI's aggressive price. $449 can hardly be considered cheap, but considering what a new high-end graphics card costs it actually quite affordable. X1950 XTX can be preordered already at $449 while NVIDIA's GeForce 7950GX2 costs about $550, a quite big difference. In out tests Radeon X1950 XTX shows that the closest single-GPU graphics card from NVIDIA, GeForce 7900GTX, is no match when it comes to the performance, even though NVIDIA's is just a few tens cheaper.
Radeon X1950 XTX is very much alike its predecessor but what ATI has improved has really paid off. The new cooler is a big step forward and the GDDR4 technology adds a significant performance advantage in most situations, which we presume will only become bigger when we test X1950 Crossfire. X1950 XTX is not a revolutionizing graphics card but gives a very mature impression. But alas, there are pieces missing from the puzzle and the most important piece is, once again, the availability. Radeon X1950 XTX is expected to appear in stores next month and if NVIDIA, e.g. lowers its prices or makes a similar move ATI will have a hard time winning the battle of the customers' money. For enthusiasts it's a shame that there are no real overclocking tools available for those who want to push ATI's flagship as far as possible, but this will hopefully be fixed as soon as the cards arrive in stores. ATI's built-in Overdrive works, but is quite limiting. The overclocking potential is still top notch, we've seen it.
Overall ATI has improved an already good graphics card and if it will be able to meet the demand while keeping its low prices Radeon X1950XTX can look forward to a very bright future. At the same time we're very excited to see what the X1950 architecture with its GDDR4 memory can do in a Crossfire configuration, we will return very soon with more information.
Finally we would like to thank ATI, ASUS and Gainward for supplying graphics cards and motherboard for this review.
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