With ATIís Radeon X1900 launch earlier this week, ATIís taking a dramatic step towards recapturing some of the mindshare that theyíve lost at the high-end of the market since NVIDIAís GeForce 7800 GTX GPU debuted last summer. ATI didnít exactly win over the hearts and minds of enthusiasts on launch day with their Radeon X1800 XT, as the GPU was announced about a month before it was generally available at retail. It also didnít help any that the initial drivers for the card didnít show its true potential. As a result, quite a few gamers were beginning to dismiss ATI entirely.
Only in more recent months have the merits of the Radeon X1800 XT been noticed by the high-end crowd. Thanks to rapidly improving availability, street prices on cards are falling quickly. In addition, NVIDIAís latest stab at the Radeon X1800 XT actually backfired, as the GeForce 7800 GTX 512MB debuted at a launch price of $700+ on launch day
(over $50 over MSRP), then steadily rose to $750 or more. And thatís if you could find someone carrying a card for sale, as cards have been incredibly scarce, with e-tailers such as Newegg still showing the card on backorder to this day.
Now ATIís debuting a slew of new GPUs that ATI hopes will make the days even longer for NVIDIAís engineers. Chief among these new cards is the Radeon X1900 CrossFire. You see, up to this point, NVIDIAís SLI platform has been the unquestioned solution of choice for the high-end gamer looking for the most performance money can buy. With SLI, NVIDIA wins three times over, as an SLI system consists of the motherboard and two graphics cards. As NVIDIAís bean counters have learned, this is an awfully effective way to increase your revenues. ATIís been wanting to get in on this action for about a year now, but due to delays with their first CrossFire part, the Radeon X850 CrossFire, they got off to a terrible start, with the final product shipping months behind schedule and with some pretty glaring limitations, such as a max screen resolution of 1600x1200 at a headache-inducing 60Hz for CRT users.
ATIís second CrossFire offering, the Radeon X1800 CrossFire, solves this oversight and thanks to an improved compositing engine, delivers pretty impressive performance at AA levels of 8x and up, but it has barely been on the market for 30 days. NVIDIAís had their 7800 GTX SLI solution out on the market since June.
With this in mind, the significance of ATI providing Radeon X1900 CrossFire canít go unnoticed. Thatís why weíve decided to devote a second article entirely to the performance of ATIís Radeon X1900 CrossFire solution. We felt it was more appropriate to test the new ATI cards out on an nForce4 motherboard in single-card configurations, as many of our readers with Radeon X800 XLs and X850s are probably running their cards right now on nForce4 hardware. Besides, by putting all the cards on the same platform, it eliminates one more variable that could get in the way of showing us the performance potential of the various cards.
Weíre not going to go over the basics of CrossFire, such as the rendering modes and ATIís new Super AA feature. If you want to know more about how CrossFire works, you should check out our first article on the Radeon X1800 XT CrossFire card
. With the exception of the GPU, ATI hasnít changed a thing with the Radeon X1900 CrossFire. Youíve got the exact same compositing engine and dongle that was first introduced on the Radeon X1800 CrossFire, as well as the same Super AA modes. We also just took a look at AA quality last week
. So what weíre here to do in this article is sum up the performance of ATIís latest CrossFire solution. How does it measure up to the competition? Letís seeÖ