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ATI Radeon X1950 XTX 512MB DDR4

By Vincent Chang - 23 Aug 2006



Just when we had thought that the battle for high-end graphics supremacy has reached an unofficial ceasefire with NVIDIA seemingly winning over the enthusiasts with both performance (the 'SLI-on-a-card' GeForce 7950 GX2) and mostly better value, ATI has revived its challenge with a late rally. While work continues from both sides on their respective next generation processors, the competition has intensified with ATI's plans to release new products aimed squarely at NVIDIA's best performers.

At the high-end segment, expect the Radeon X1950 XTX to be reinforced with the Radeon X1950 Pro as they take on the GeForce 7900 GTX and the GeForce 7900 GT. The mid-range Radeon X1650 PRO goes for the jugular of the GeForce 7600 GT. Already, there's talk in the grapevine that NVIDIA has plans to preempt ATI's roadmap with a possible cut-down version of the GeForce 7900 GT, to be called predictably, the GeForce 7900 GS. Price cuts for the GeForce 7600 GT are also said to be forthcoming and more to be expected when they transition to the 80nm process. The next few months promise to be exciting for enthusiasts, as new products will need to be ranked and judged with their peers. Not to mention the potential price cuts. Already, the 256MB version of the X1900 XT comes at a stripped down price of US$279.

The new kid is fast, but the best of all is its US$449 introductory price tag.

Like we predicted, a mere increase in memory clock speeds, DDR4 or not, doesn't really help the Radeon X1950 XTX too much in performance. As the overclocked HIS Radeon X1900 XTX showed, the best Radeon X1900 XTX could still pose a threat to this new product. At the moment, it seems like present owners of a Radeon X1900 XTX or the XT version can forget about making a minor upgrade to the X1950 XTX, as there is no significant performance advantage from doing so. We only saw a minor, incremental improvement for the benchmarks that we ran. Only if you are keen on playing all your games in full glory, with HDR and anti-aliasing, can we imagine the faster memory clocks paying off. ATI's own benchmarks (which naturally showed the Radeon X1950 XTX as king of the hill) reflected this advantage, with all the games running at resolutions of up to 2560 x 1600.

Given the excellent cooler, one could probably overclock the core to the level of the HIS Radeon X1900 XTX IceQ3 and then perhaps we will find a more convincing score, but we'll reserve our overclocking conclusion for a later date with real retail products. There is also the consideration to take that the improved memory performance and bandwidth will probably be much more of a boost when the Radeon X1950 XTX is used in a CrossFire configuration and with ATI pushing their triple card setup for GPU physics, it is too early to write off the benefits of GDDR4.

The good news is that just like AMD, ATI seems to be more competitive with better price propositions. Initial rumors put the X1950 XTX at a US$399 price, which was a little over-deflated. As the launch of the card approaches, ATI has confirmed that the actual price tag would be around US$449, which thankfully still puts the X9150 XTX in direct competition against the GeForce 7900 GTX. With NVIDIA's dual GPU GeForce 7950 GX2 not really threatened by the newcomer performance-wise, the Radeon X1950 XTX is probably banking on taking down its single core rival with a superior price/performance ratio at reduced thermal output. In the end, consumers should be the ones rubbing their hands in glee but they will still have to wait till September 14th before these cards are available in retail.

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