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ATI's Radeon X1900GT On Test 101

An anonymous reader writes "ATI's Radeon X1800XT reached end of life last month and the company announced its replacement on May 5th: Radeon X1900GT. Bit-Tech has put a pair of retail Radeon X1900GT cards from Connect3D and Sapphire to the test in a range of real-world benchmarks to find out how it matches up to NVIIDA's 7900 GT."
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ATI's Radeon X1900GT On Test

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:17AM (#15300726)
    What the video card industry needs is more competitors. Not low end stuff like what TI and Intel offer, but beefy video cards with lots of horsepower. The complaint is that there aren't any good, open drivers for Linux for these things, and a lot of that is simply because there are only two companies out there and they don't have to cater to anyone but the Windows gamers.

    I'm sure the benchmarks are very impressive, after all, they were pretty impressive last time the tests were run. But now that we've got the "quantity" in these cards, it's high time we got some of that Open Source "quality" along with it.
    • nVidia (Score:5, Insightful)

      by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:33AM (#15300843) Journal
      nVidia's linux drivers are very solid. They aren't open - get over it - but a given nVidia card in a Linux box has the capability to do everything that a nVidia card in a windows box can do. The linux drivers and windows drivers share the same codebase, sans kernel hooks, etc. using their unified driver architecture [].

      Unfortunately the same cannot be same for ATI. ATI drivers are flaky and as a developer features are missing under Linux that exist in Windows.

      • Re:nVidia vs ATI (Score:3, Interesting)

        by xiando ( 770382 )
        My desktop now has 2xNvidia cards who work perfectly. I bought a ATI card back in the days and found that it was impossible to use the TV-out. That's "half the card" and a very important feature missing and I didn't even need to be a developer to figure out it meant that I had to forget about TV-out or buy another card. I'm never buying ATI again, part of the reason is that there are STILL no drivers, now 3 years later, supporting TV-out on the ATI card I bought.
      • To be quite frank, the ATi drivers are awful under Windows too. The ATi control center manages to take 25s to load on my 2GHz Core Duo laptop with 2GB of RAM and a 7200rpm hard disk. That's equivalent to an awfully grunty desktop. For all that, it doesn't even do very much, has a terrible UI, doesn't work correctly when Windows is set to use the correct screen DPI not pretend it's a 72dpi display (pathetic for a video card mfgr), and is a bit flakey to boot.

        The ATi drivers are absolutely crap no matter what
        • I think ATI control center is written using .Net framework. It is basically the same as if they had written it using Java...

          • You got it. Like Java, C# .Net can be fast and efficient. Like Java, if you add Swing (the C# equivalent is Windows Forms) into the mix it becomes a bloated pig in a hurry. Like Java, it takes plenty of skill and thought to write an app that doesn't take a week to load, so you actually can't hire monkeys for programmers.

        • I had to remove the catalyst control center because it was bluescreening my windows XP system. I was using the latest release of the driver and CCC, and every application works just great with the card - since I removed CCC.

          ATI is a lot better than they used to be, but they still can't write drivers. I won't be trying them again any time in the next five years or so. (The card had the best performance in my price range...)

      • Re:nVidia (Score:3, Interesting)

        I think he's saying he doesn't want to "get over it". We're consumers, we don't own enough stock to care what nVidia decides is in its own best interest.

        The world DOES need more competitors and open drivers. The latter will remove one really big tether to win32.
      • I thought the same until I bought a 6600 VIVO (video in, video out)card. All the normal 3d/2d stuff works great, as expected from NVidia. However I haven't found any support for the encoder/capture functionality on this card. It still beats the pants off ATI for reliability in the output arena, but I haven't had much luck on input (perhaps somebody here can show me a working input driver and prove me wrong).
    • First your not going to get open source driver availability just by having more competitors. Your going to get that when the market is sufficiently appealing enough to warrant the attention of the makers of the video cards.

      Nothing is wrong in accepting drivers from the companies even if they do not provide the source. If you don't like the terms then by all means go write them yourself or use ones written by others. What irks me the most is how so many now suddenly feel entitled to having code provided t
    • The complaint is that there aren't any good, open drivers for Linux for these things, and a lot of that is simply because there are only two companies out there and they don't have to cater to anyone but the Windows gamers.

      At the same time the argument can be made that there isn't a big enough of a marketshare for PC gamers running Linux. Hell, you see it in the set-top box versus PC gamer arguments; PC gaming is having a hard time right now... What better to do than to introduce such a small demographic
      • by thebdj ( 768618 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:51AM (#15300968) Journal
        List of games I have played in Linux:

        *Diablo II
        *Warcraft III
        *Half-Life (pre-steam) w/ all games
        *Return to Castle Wolfenstein

        List of games I know will run in Linux:

        *World of Warcraft
        *Half-Life 2 and mods

        Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. (Yes, I know the list is a bit short.) But I own all the games on that list and their ability to run in Linux is great because I really plan on shedding Windows for good with this next PC upgrade. There are others games that I think run in Linux. Tribes 2 had a Linux version and I think NWN was going to eventually get Linux support.

        Yes, the market for Linux gaming is a lot smaller, but it does still exist. Some companies have released commercial versions of games to run in Linux and id gave away the Linux client for RtCW (though you need the game for its data files). The rest can be made to run in wine. Still, the point is valid. There is no reason for companies to release open source drivers if they don't want to do it. The fact they release drivers at all is actually somewhat impressive.
        • Let's not forget Savage [] and Unreal Tournament 2004 [] with their direct LINUX products, and the whole slew of things the kind folks at Loki [] port and work on.
        • Still, the point is valid.

          What point would that be?

          Look, nothing against the Linux crowd here but the fact is most of Linux's inroads have been in the server market. When we see a marketshare of a few percent the over all outlook on that number is that the majority is servers. Sure, there is still a couple of percentage points left for the Linux hobbiest. Most Linux hobbiests continue to run Windows PCs (yourself included). The gaming market is overwhelmingly PC. we're talking in the 99%+ arena.

          So you p
        • All those games are Windows-only, unless you count that Wine (great technical merits, not so great philosophical ones) kludge.

          Linux games:
          Medal of Honor Allied Assault (I haven't played more recent versions)
          Doom (all versions, including Doom 3 and it's expansion Resurrection of Evil)
          Quake (all versions, including the newest and greatest Quake 4)
          Neverwinter Nights (it runs on Linux since about 3 months after the Windows release) (although NWN2 may not run on Linux)
          Unreal Tournament
          America's Army till version
        • But I own all the games on that list and their ability to run in Linux is great because I really plan on shedding Windows for good with this next PC upgrade.

          Just a little addon to your post I think is interesting, I saw an article today about a linux client for Serious Sam 2 being in development and I thought "That sounds cool, I'd play that!" then realised that Serious Sam 2 is the game that came free with my video card. So basically not only would I not buy a game where I have to boot into Windows to
        • Tribes 2 had a Linux version
          Speaking of that, is there anybody that has a copy? I've got an account but since I don't have a disc to install it I can't play at all. And every place I've found that claims to have it for download is lying.
        • Not sure if you were being specific to ATI (and not sure how this discussion came about otherwise), but I'll add

          Doom 3 (natively even)
          Battlefield 2
          Half Life 2

          and with some tweaking, GTA: Vice City, and various others.
    • The complaint is that there aren't any good, open drivers for Linux for these things, and a lot of that is simply because there are only two companies out there and they don't have to cater to anyone but the Windows gamers.

      The actual problem of course is that linux is something like 1% of the videocard market, not that there's not enough competition. No company is going to chase after a market that tiny.

      Now, why they don't open their APIs so volunteers can write drivers, that's another question entirel

    • I thought the problem with gaming on Linux (and hence the lack of a need for fancy vid cards) was that most games are written to leverage DirectX and M$ doesn't publish DirectX for linux (for obvious reasons).

      A brilliant business move by Microsoft... keep your audience chained to your OS via DirectX.

      Am I wrong?

  • by glrotate ( 300695 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:18AM (#15300734) Homepage
    Final Thoughts...

    In some areas, the R580-based Radeon X1900GT is faster than the card it is replacing. However, in other, less shader-intense titles like Day of Defeat: Source, the R520-based Radeon X1800XT is the faster of the two. This can be attributed to the architectural differences between R520 and R580.

    The natural competitor for the Radeon X1900GT is NVIDIA's GeForce 7900 GT, and across a range of games, it is very much a case of win some, lose some for both companies.

    In texture-heavy games, the Radeon X1900GT can sometimes be slower than the GeForce 7800 GT, nevermind the faster GeForce 7900 GT. In newer, shader-intensive games like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Call of Duty 2, the Radeon X1900GT delivers a very good gaming experience in comparison to the GeForce 7900 GT. This is particularly the case in Oblivion, where the Radeon X1900GT is able to deliver a better gaming experience than XFX's superclocked 7900 GT XXX Edition. In addition, it will be possible to play Oblivion with both HDR and Anti Aliasing enabled if the upcoming Catalyst 6.5 driver includes the 'Chuck' patch. This is something that is currently not an option for NVIDIA owners.

    Based on the current price forecasts from people in the know, the deal looks to be a pretty good one. If the Radeon X1900GT is priced at £199, it is undoubtedly a good deal. However, there are GeForce 7900 GT's already selling for that price. The decision will ultimately depend on what games you're currently playing, whether you're planning to overclock or not, and also based on the price points that ATI's partners will manage to hit.

    The GeForce 7900 GT is a very good overclocker, while the Radeon X1900GT looks to be a bit of a mixed bag at the moment. If you're looking to overclock, we feel that the GeForce 7900 GT is the better deal if you find one at a good price. However, if you're planning to run your video card at stock speeds the final decision will depend on the games you're looking to play.
    • or the fact that the ATI drivers suck a left nut in linux
    • what about those of us who don't want to have to figure out what games use what to do what etc? I'm a UNIX admin. I play with big Suns. I have an old laptop that handles warcraft3 well enough - I'd like to try some of the "new" games like WoW or such...maybe even Vanguard. Would be nice if the industry could just agree on some standard (what was wrong with opengl?) and work at being the best for the *standard*, versus diverging in ways that just confuse the consumers. "texture-heavy?" "shader-intensive
  • by mattydont ( 849321 ) <> on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:32AM (#15300835)
    that the letters GT in the card name make it run faster. maybe if they add a x after it they could even topple Nvidia's cards once and for all..... or not.
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:34AM (#15300848) about 5...4...3...2...1 seconds...NOW!

    And it blows away every other one out there, so do I just wait for the next one or buy???
    I never know what to do. I think I'll stick with my Voodoo 3.
    • Gamers *really* don't like to have their hardware buying addiction critcized. As with any drug, video card upgrades are highly addictive, and bad for your health. Just yesterday Slashdot was talking about DVT from sitting in one place for 8 hours at a time, which we'd have to agree, a new ATI card can lead to that sad occurance.
    • Yeah, I've felt the same way for a while.

      The last video card I bought was an ATI Radeon 9200 SE, 128 MB, came with Half-life 2 for free, and a $40 mail-in rebate.
      $99 in-store.

      It was an unbelievable deal at the time (right before half-life 2 was supposed to come out), and I have no plans to get anything better for a while, although my dream machine would have two of those SLI cards.
  • I'm curious, how often do even hard-core PC gamers upgrade their video cards? To me, who only upgrades every 2-3 years, the new cards just become a blur of model numbers and benchmark scores.
    • by amliebsch ( 724858 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:43AM (#15300923) Journal
      I'm pretty hard-core; I buy many PC games and play them often. I'm still milking a 9800 Pro. For almost everything, it works Good Enough.
      • I just built a new system with a Sapphire Radeon X800 GTO2 LE. It cost $200 canadian for it so it's a mid range card. But it's really a high end card in disguise.

        I get 70fps at 1024x768 High Quality 2xAA in Doom3 timedemo 1, using stock gpu/memory speeds of 400/980mhz
        I get 96fps at 1024x768 High Quality 2xAA in Doom3 timedemo 1, overclocked gpu/memory speeds at 540/1180mhz (over 20% gpu increase)
        The card never gets above 62C with the stock fan set to 100%. Eventually I'll get an aftermarket cooler so I can
      • I also use a 9800Pro on my gaming rig... My system is AGP, DDR2 and Socket 939, so my upgrade path has been slightly stunted by DDR2, PCI-E and AM2. I see the Pro being a solid competitor until the end of the year... or maybe until the summer, depends whether I like UT2k7 enough.

        After this, I will simply get the highest end AGP card available at the time (Right now I'm looking at a 7800GT... Hopefully some of the newer cards released this year will be released in AGP format for a while to come) and then t

    • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:50AM (#15300962) Journal
      Usually by the time I go to upgrade my video card, they've changed the bus to something faster (ISA, EISA, VESA, PCI, AGP (2x, 4x, 8x), PCI-X), and its just cheaper to get a new motherboard and processor, since processor slots change even faster than card slots. Which normally means that my card mix (ISA/PCI) won't fit, or they've change the HD controller (...,PATA, SATA) and I need a new hard drive.

      Which means that each time I consider upgrading my video, it usually is just cheaper to mothball the machine and buy a new one. I think I replaced a video card once, back in the mid 90s. No, wait...I upgraded once back in 2003 so that I could go from a single monitor to a dual monitor setup. And even then, I had to step back about 3 generations from cutting edge so that the card would still work on my motherboard.
      • I think it depends on what type of gamer you are. If you are a pro-gamer wannabe then you will spend a lot more than the average joe who just wants to play for occasionally for fun. Competitive gaming requires competitive hardware to play on. These high-end graphics cards are for those people who play competitively on a regular basis. The average gamer can experience some pretty awesome graphics by using a mid-range GPU.
    • My pattern had been to upgrade every 2 years, alternating between the video card and motherboard/CPU every year. Upgrading -something- every year seemed to work well with me. This year was going to be my motherboard upgrade but I have to switch to PCI-Express, so I am going to try and hold off longer because I will need to get a new video card as well.
      • Take a look at Asrock's 939Dual Sata motherboard.
        I decided to take this route with my new computer. It's got both AGP and PCI-Express, plus an expansion slot for AMD's AM2 chip. Its implemenation of AGP is true AGP, unlike ECS's AGP that is running off the PCI bus.

        I didn't want to buy a new video card to replace my Nvidia 6800, plus I wanted room to grow. I've been happy with it, plus it overclocks nicely provided you use some beta bios to bypass the 274 HTT limit.
    • Maybe once a year.

      It's called ebay!

      Costs me about $100/year to have the smoothest game play (framerates and visual effects).

      CPU every 2 to 3 years.

      1990 Amiga :)
      1993 Trident
      1996 Matrox
      1997 3fdx Voodoo Rush
      1998 Nvidia Riva TNT
      2000 Geforce 2
      2002 TI4200
      2004 9800 Pro stock
      2005 6800 GT @ 400/1100
      2006 7900 GT @ 650/1760

  • Hrm (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    But can these cards pass a VESA test?
    • Probably not without crashing the machine. You don't need to look at windows kernel to find flaws in the OS. There are too many in the GFX driver (and the hardware).
  • Who fired marketing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xichekolas ( 908635 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @10:56AM (#15301016)

    Next month... "ATI's Radeon X1900XT has reached end of it's life and the company announced its replacement on June 5th: Radeon 9700486772GTX47RZA21 Rev. A!"

    Seriously, can we stop using big numbers to compensate for our tiny penises?

    Both Nvidia (GeForce) and ATI (Radeon) are guilty of having hundreds of products with the same name that can only be differentiated by their absurdly esoteric combination of numbers, X's, T's, and words like Pro and Extreme (or Xtreme if they are feeling particularly retarded that day). I hate marketing as much as the next nerd, but get everyone drunk some night after work and come up with a new product name.

    Then I won't have to spend a week researching video cards before I buy one. I could spend that week doing better things, like waiting for UPS to deliver my video card.

  • by Dex5791 ( 973984 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @11:13AM (#15301135)
    With video cards, unless you have a lot of disposable income, you are better off buying the mid-range cards that pack enough features to get the job done. The X1600Pro is a much better deal than the X1900XT. It will run Oblivion just fine in 1024x768 with most of the bells and whistles enabled. It's priced at around $125 for the AGP version.
    • Bravo! Your post is EXACTLY what this thread needed.

      If I need a video card, I would be happy to settle for a less-expensive good-performing alternative.
      • Bravo! Your post is EXACTLY what this thread needed.
        Yes, it is, except for the fact that everbody knows this, especially everybody here at slashdot. The only people who but these new cards are hardcore gamers, or someone who has just won the lottery. The only people I can see this comment helping is a couple of teenagers in the US who are thinking about buying a new computer - well done. (And even they are reading at >2!)
    • Or you could also go with the top card from a year or so ago. I recently purchased an X850XT for around $150. Since my monitor only supports 1280x1024, I can run everything just fine at native res with features maxed out.

      Staying a generation or two behind can save you a ton of money and you won't take too much of a performance hit. In fact, my X850 will outperform the current X1600 pro. Just my two cents anyway.
      • x1600 has some advantages. Your X850XT doesn't have AVIVO, dual-link DVI (note, that's not dual DVI), shader model 3 or hardware H.264 decoding support. It is faster though. x1600 will also run cooler and draw less power since it's a 90 nm die.
    • That'll work fine if you have an XGA-native display or a CRT. I don't play games, but if I had an LCD, and played games, I wouldn't want to play it at any other resolution than it's native panel resolution. Pixel multiplication and other scaling techniques doesn't look pretty on a large panel.
    • I guarantee you will find a lot of options turned off most people miss em in the video options. Oblivion can make even some of the most highest end systems slow to a crawl. Especially outdoors even at lower resolutions.
  • Maybe you mean NVIDIA? ;P

    I've been an ATI-man for a long time, but right now I'd choose an NVIDIA card.
  • by Beefslaya ( 832030 ) on Wednesday May 10, 2006 @12:25PM (#15301745)
    Video card benchmarks are like the cock measuring contests of the Geek world.

    I suppose if my entire life revolved around the PC, and games were my main form of entertainment (besides shooting the neighbors dog with a pellet gun for crapping on my lawn), then I guess 300-700 dollars for a video card would be great.

    I got a Nvidia 6800OC from Woot for 59 bucks...plays all todays games great. Sure...not at 100000x6800000 resolution, or on the side of a skyscraper, but good enough to whip some 12 year old punks ass on your local WAN server. So what if I miss a couple of particles. My lazy eyes can't even dicipher them.

    But if it's your bag, then go for it. Just be ready for the next card from Nvidia in the next 10 minutes.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva