ATI’s Radeon X850 XT graphics cards

ATI’S HIGH-END RADEON X800 CARDS have been reasonably successful by most measures. The technology is solid and, although a little older, more or less on par with NVIDIA’s GeForce 6 series GPUs. They seem to be selling well, with big PC makers like Dell sucking up nearly all the cards ATI can supply. The cards’ performance is decent, and ATI’s market share numbers are up.

However, not all has been roses. NVIDIA’s GeForce 6800 cards have been fierce competition, with the 16-pipe GeForce 6800 GT arguably offering a better value at $399 than the Radeon X800 Pro. Also, ATI’s top-end product, the Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition, has been exceptionally rare. Oh, sure, the streets aren’t exactly awash in GeForce 6800 Ultras, but the Platinum Edition has been brutally scarce.

ATI is aiming to correct these availability problems and bring a little more performance to the X800 series with a pair of new graphics chips, code-named R430 and R480. The first products based on these chips will be the Radeon X850 XT and X850 XT Platinum Edition, and we’ve had our grubby little hands on one of these cards long enough to benchmark it. In fact, we’ve benchmarked it against nearly every card we could find. Read on for a look at how ATI is remodeling the high end of its product line, and for a performance comparison of all of the latest the graphics cards from $199 and up—including dual GeForce 6800 Ultras in SLI.

ATI’s new arsenal
Both of ATI’s new graphics chips, the R430 and R480, are derived from the R420 graphics processor found on prior Radeon X800 cards. The R420, in turn, traces its roots to the R300 design used on the original Radeon 9700. The R430 and R480 aren’t revolutionary by any means, but ATI has brought some notable changes to each of them.

The R480 will be aimed at the very top of the performance ranks. Like the R420, the R480 is manufactured by TSMC on its low-k 130nm fab process, but the R480 and its supporting cast have been tweaked and tuned to reach higher clock speeds more easily and reliably. For the R480 chip itself, the big change is in power management. ATI has endowed the R480 with a dynamic clock gating capability, a la the Pentium M, that allows the chip to deactivate parts of itself when they’re not being used. ATI says the R480 should use as little as half the power and produce half the heat of the R420 in “2D” desktop use.

The R480’s supporting cast gets similar tweaks. ATI has chosen a different chip substrate component in order to ease the quest for higher memory clock speeds. The board design has been changed to improve power delivery to the graphics chip. And, most prominently, cards based on the R480 will have a Dustbuster-esque, dual-slot cooler strapped to the side, much like NVIDIA’s top-end cards. Check it out:


The Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition

Before you snort your coffee through your nose, rest assured that the Radeon X850 XT does not sound like a Dustbuster—or a GeForce 5800 Ultra, for that matter—in normal use. I have to admit, I was part bemused and part terrified when I first fired up a system with a Radeon X850 XT PE card in it. At boot time, that blower cranked up briefly to full speed, aurally evoking an Oreck XL. Once those few seconds passed, though, the blower never did get back up to that speed again, no matter what I did with the card. In intense 3D gaming and benchmarking sessions, even with relatively warm ambient temperatures, the X850 XT PE was generally quieter than a GeForce 6800 Ultra, which isn’t bad company to keep.

Still, the other shoe has dropped. ATI has gone to a dual-slot cooler in order to keep pace with NVIDIA’s uber-high-end cards. This change, like all the others to the R480, is intended to bring higher clock speeds with less fuss, so that supply of R480-based cards might actually be able to keep up with demand.

The second prong of ATI’s new high-end assault is the R430. Like the R420 and R480, the R430 has 16 pixel pipelines and six vertex shader engines. Instead of dynamic clock gating and a big-ass fan, though, the R430 gets a bit of a die shrink courtesy of TSMC’s 110nm fab process. This process, combined with lower clock speeds, should allow R430-based cards to thrive with a relatively minimalist single-slot cooler.


R430-based Radeon X800 cards will get a much smaller cooler

As you might have guessed, the R430’s mission in life will be a little more modest, performance-wise, than the R480’s. Here’s a brief overview of how ATI will be using these new chips in actual products.

  Chip Core clock (MHz) Pixel pipelines Memory clock (MHz) Memory onboard Display outputs MSRP
Radeon X800 R430 400 12 700 128MB VGA+DVI+TVo $249
Radeon X800 XL R430 400 16 1000 256MB VGA+DVI+TVo $349
Radeon X850 Pro R480 520 12 1120 256MB VGA+DVI+TVo $399
Radeon X850 XT R480 520 16 1120 256MB DVI+DVI+ViVo $499
Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition R480 540 16 1180 256MB DVI+DVI+ViVo $549
  • The Radeon X800 is based on the R430 chip, but it will only have 12 pipelines enabled. ATI had once planned to sell a version of the Radeon X700 XT with 256MB of memory onboard for $249, but they now say that won’t happen. Instead, we’ll get a higher-performance chip and less memory at the $249 price point, just below the current pricing of the GeForce 6800 128MB cards.
  • Also based on the R430, the Radeon X800 XL could be a heckuva value for the money when it arrives, but I don’t think ATI will make the Christmas shopping season with R430-derived products. If they do, it’ll be very close. They’re telling us that we should get press samples in about two weeks. If the cards start shipping in volume by then, it just might be possible to pick one up at an online reseller in time for Christmas. Maybe. But I really doubt it.

    Both of the Radeon X800 cards will use a single-slot cooler and require no external power plug (at least on PCI Express versions).

  • The Radeon X850 Pro is a single-slot card with 12 pipelines. This one is apparently a place for ATI to direct its not-quite-right R480 chips with one of the pipeline “quads” disabled. The clock speeds on this chip are still tentative, and ATI says it won’t arrive until late December at the earliest, or possibly in 2005. This card won’t likely be a popular choice, because it has a higher list price than the Radeon X800 XL but should perform about the same.
  • The R480-based Radeon X850 XT is slated for arrival in mid-December. X850 XT boards will not be produced by ATI, only by its board manufacturing partners. This product essentially replicates the specs and performance of the ever-so-scarce Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition, with a few exceptions. Yes, it carries with it a dual-slot cooler, but it comes with dual DVI outputs for driving a pair of LCD monitors without the analog conversions muddling things up. (Not all X850 XT cards will necessarily have dual DVI ports, but at least some should.) We’ve hassled ATI in the past about the lack of a second DVI output on a $500 graphics card, and we’re pleased to see that they’ve responded.
  • ATI’s new king-of-the-hill product is the Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition. The ATI-branded version of this puppy is supposed to be available at online resellers today, right as the product launches. Retail availability of the X850 XT PE will lag behind “e-tail,” as it likely will for all of these products. For $50 more than the X850 XT, the Platinum Edition offers a teeny bit more performance and a little bit of prestige.
  • Ye olde Radeon X800 Pro will persist as an R420-based product at $299, mostly for PC makers who have qualified the product and don’t want to change horses in mid-stream. The Radeon X800 XT and X800 XT Platinum Edition will be put out to pasture. ATI says the Radeon X700 series will continue to move down in price over time.

All of the cards being announced today are PCI Express models. The word is that AGP equivalents are coming shortly, but ATI hasn’t announced anything yet and hasn’t given a firm timetable for their release. We asked about whether the new AGP cards will use a PCI Express-to-AGP bridge chip, like NVIDIA’s GeForce 6600 GT AGP, but ATI wouldn’t confirm that.

 

Our testing methods
As ever, we did our best to deliver clean benchmark numbers. Tests were run at least twice, and the results were averaged. All graphics driver image quality settings were left at their defaults, with the exception that vertical refresh sync (vsync) was always disabled and geometry instancing was enabled on ATI cards.

Note that some of our graphics cards are fakes. Specifically, the Radeon X850 XT is actually a Radeon X850 XT PE card that’s been underclocked, and the pair of GeForce 6800 GT cards in SLI is actually an underclocked pair of 6800 Ultras.

Our test systems were configured like so:

Processor Athlon 64 4000+ 2.4GHz Athlon 64 4000+ 2.4GHz Athlon 64 4000+ 2.4GHz
System bus 1GHz HyperTransport 1GHz HyperTransport 1GHz HyperTransport
Motherboard Asus A8V Deluxe Asus A8N-SLI NVIDIA reference
BIOS revision 1008 beta 1 ? 4.70
North bridge K8T800 Pro nForce4 Ultra nForce4 Ultra
South bridge VT8237
Chipset drivers Hyperion 4.55 ForceWare 6.31 beta ForceWare 6.31 beta
Memory size 1GB (2 DIMMs) 1GB (2 DIMMs) 1GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type OCZ PC3200 EL DDR SDRAM at 400MHz OCZ PC3200 EL DDR SDRAM at 400MHz OCZ PC3200 EL DDR SDRAM at 400MHz
CAS latency (CL) 2 2 2
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 2 2 2
RAS precharge (tRP) 2 2 2
Cycle time (tRAS) 5 5 5
Hard drive Maxtor MaXLine III 250GB SATA 150
Audio Integrated VT8237/ALC850 with 3.66 drivers Integrated Integrated
Graphics 1 GeForce 6800 128MB AGP 
with ForceWare 66.93 drivers
GeForce 6800 GT 256MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 66.93 drivers
GeForce 6600 GT 128MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 66.93 drivers
Graphics 2 Radeon X800 Pro 256MB AGP
with 8-08-rc2-019256e drivers
Dual GeForce 6800 GT 256MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 66.93 drivers
Radeon X700 XT 128MB PCI-E
with 8-08-rc2-019256e drivers
Graphics 3 Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition 256MB AGP
with 8-08-rc2-019256e drivers
GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 66.93 drivers
 Radeon X800 XT 256MB PCI-E
with 8-08-rc2-019256e drivers
Graphics 4   Dual GeForce 6800 Ultra 256MB PCI-E
with ForceWare 66.93 drivers
 
Graphics 5   Radeon X850 XT 256MB PCI-E
with 8-08-rc2-019256e drivers
 
Graphics 6   Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition 256MB PCI-E
with 8-08-rc2-019256e drivers
 
OS Microsoft Windows XP Professional
OS updates Service Pack 2, DirectX 9.0c

Thanks to OCZ for providing us with memory for our testing. If you’re looking to tweak out your system to the max and maybe overclock it a little, OCZ’s RAM is definitely worth considering.

Also, all of our test systems were powered by OCZ PowerStream power supply units. The PowerStream was one of our Editor’s Choice winners in our latest PSU round-up.

The test systems’ Windows desktops were set at 1152×864 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The tests and methods we employed are generally publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

 

Pixel filling power
All of the clock speed and pixel pipeline numbers that ATI is juggling to achieve its ideal product mix also determine overall performance. Here’s a look at the highlights of how the new cards compare to the most common competition.

  Core clock (MHz) Pixel pipelines  Peak fill rate (Mpixels/s) Texture units per pixel pipeline Peak fill rate (Mtexels/s) Memory clock (MHz) Memory bus width (bits) Peak memory bandwidth (GB/s)
GeForce 6200 300 4 1200 1 1200 TBD 128 TBD
Radeon X300 325 4 1300 1 1300 400 128 6.4
Radeon X600 Pro 400 4 1600 1 1600 600 128 9.6
GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 475 4 1900 1 1900 900 128 14.4
Radeon 9600 XT 500 4 2000 1 2000 600 128 9.6
Radeon X600 XT 500 4 2000 1 2000 740 128 11.8
GeForce 6600 300 8* 2400 1 2400 TBD 128 TBD
Radeon 9800 Pro 380 8 3040 1 3040 680 256 21.8
Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB 380 8 3040 1 3040 700 256 22.4
GeForce FX 5900 XT 400 4 1600 2 3200 700 256 22.4
Radeon X700 400 8 3200 1 3200 600 128 9.6
Radeon 9800 XT 412 8 3296 1 3296 730 256 23.4
Radeon X700 Pro 420 8 3360 1 3360 864 128 13.8
Radeon X700 XT 475 8 3800 1 3800 1050 128 16.8
GeForce 6800  325 12 3900 1 3900 700 256 22.4
GeForce 6600 GT AGP 500 8* 2000 1 4000 900 128 14.4
GeForce 6600 GT 500 8* 2000 1 4000 1000 128 16.0
Radeon X800 400 12 4800 1 4800 700 256 22.4
GeForce 6800 GT 350 16 5600 1 5600 1000 256 32.0
Radeon X800 Pro 475 12 5700 1 5700 900 256 28.8
Radeon X800 XL 400 16 6400 1 6400 1000 256 32.0
GeForce 6800 Ultra 425 16 6800 1 6800 1100 256 35.2
Radeon X800 XT 500 16 8000 1 8000 1000 256 32.0
Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition 520 16 8320 1 8320 1120 256 35.8
Radeon X850 XT 520 16 8320 1 8320 1120 256 35.8
Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition 540 16 8640 1 8640 1180 256 37.8

ATI maintains its lead in clock speeds and theoretical peak performance over NVIDIA at the very high end, at least in terms of single cards. The X850 XT Platinum Edition gains a little bit of speed over the previous Platinum Edition card, but NVIDIA has also picked up 25MHz on the core speed of its GeForce 6800 Ultra. Not all 6800 Ultra cards run at 425MHz—most run at 400MHz—but Asus and BFG Tech are selling 425MHz cards, and the cards we tested for this review had a 425MHz core clock speed.

Here’s how those theoretical numbers work out in a synthetic fill rate test.

Few of these cards achieve anything like their peak theoretical fill rates when applying only one texture per pixel, but they do much better with multitexturing. Note that the Radeon X850 XT is just a tad slower than the X800 Platinum Edition, despite the fact that they share the same core and memory clock speeds. The R480 chip may be a little bit slower clock for clock, or it may have more relaxed memory timings. Whatever the case, it’s only a minor difference.

 

Doom 3 – Delta Labs
We’ll kick off our gaming benchmarks with Doom 3. Our first Doom 3 test uses a gameplay demo we recorded inside the Delta Labs complex, and it represents the sorts of graphics loads you’ll find in most of the game’s single-player levels. We’ve tested with Doom 3’s High Quality mode, which turns on 8X anisotropic filtering by default.

Doom 3 has not been ATI’s home turf, but the top ATI cards perform reasonably well this time around. The GeForce 6800 Ultra maintains a slight edge overall, and the $399 GeForce 6800 GT shadows the performance of the more expensive X850 cards. Still, the difference in performance between the X850 XT PE and the GeForce 6800 Ultra is only five frames per second at 1600×1200 with 4X antialiasing.

 

Doom 3 – Heat Haze
This next demo was recorded in order to test a specific effect in Doom 3: that cool-looking “heat haze” effect that you see whenever a demon hurls a fireball at you. We figured this effect would be fairly shader intensive, so we wanted to test it separately from the rest of the game.

The shader-driven “heat haze” effect makes the gap even narrower between the X850 XT PE and the 6800 Ultra, to the point where the two perform more or less equivalently with 4X antialiasing.

 

Half-Life 2 – Route Kanal
Our first Half-Life 2 demo is a longish section of the Route Kanal sequence early in the game. It combines a number of effects, including reflective water and the flashlight, with a lot of running around in simple, dark corridors and a few outside areas.

Half-Life 2 doesn’t present any kind of serious performance challenge to the more expensive cards. Any of the cards that cost over $300 can run this demo at over 60 frames per second at 1600×1200 with edge antialiasing and texture filtering cranked up. Still, the X850 cards easily distance themselves from the GeForce 6800 Ultra, and they even manage to give the dual-Ultra SLI rig a run for its money.

 

Half-Life 2 – Airboat Battle
In this demo, Gordon is doing battle with a helicopter while running around in an airboat. There’s lots of water here, plus plenty of pyrotechnics.

Both Radeon X850 cards are rolling here, absolutely schooling the NVIDIA cards, until they hit some kind of a wall at 1600×1200 with 4X antialiasing and 8X aniso filtering. I suspect it’s some kind of a memory management problem in the driver, but that’s just a wild guess.

 

Far Cry – Pier
The Pier level in Far Cry is an outdoor area with dense vegetation, and it makes good use of geometry instancing to populate the jungle with foliage.

All of the ATI cards have the advantage in Far Cry. The X850 cards keep pace with the dual GeForce 6800 GT cards in SLI, and they leave the single 6800 Ultra well behind.

 

Far Cry – Volcano
Like our Doom 3 “heat haze” demo, the Volcano level in Far Cry includes lots of pixel shader warping and shimmering.

Things change in the Volcano demo. The GeForce 6800 Ultra is clearly faster until antialiasing and texture filtering come into play, and then the X850 cards pull even.

 

3DMark05 – Game tests
3DMark05 is intended to show us how a system would handle future games, with more demanding graphics loads than even the latest current games.

ATI’s new cards have a pronounced advantage over the GeForce 6800 Ultra in 3DMark05. Let’s see what its synthetic feature tests can tell us.

 

3DMark05 – Synthetic feature tests

The pixel shader test illustrates for us why the GeForce 6800 Ultra is sometimes able to keep pace with the Radeon X850 XT PE, despite a massive clock speed disparity. The 6800’s pixel shaders manage to perform better, clock for clock, than the R480’s—at least in this test. Both chips’ pixel shader units have a degree of internal parallelism, but NVIDIA’s often appear to do more work per clock than ATI’s.

On the other hand, ATI looks relatively strong in the vertex shader department.

 
Power consumption
With each of the graphics cards installed and running, I used a watt meter to measure the power draw of our test systems. The monitor was plugged into a separate power source. The cards were tested at idle in the Windows desktop and under load while running our Doom 3 “heat haze” demo at 1280×1024 with 4X AA.

Note that our power consumption numbers aren’t entirely comparable from card to card because we’re testing entire systems, and those are based on three different motherboards. Two of those motherboards are nForce4 boards, but the third is an AGP system. Also, notice that I’ve limited our testing to actual products that we have on hand, to the exclusion of underclocked “simulated” cards. Some folks have pointed out that different models of graphics cards may vary with respect to the amount of voltage going to the graphics chip or memory.

One direct comparison you’ll want to make here is between the Radeon X800 XT and the Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition. Although I tested the X800 XT’s performance on a different motherboard, I tested its power consumption on the same board as the X850 XT PE, so those numbers are directly comparable. Of course, the X850 XT PE runs at higher clock speeds and thus consumes relatively more power, but we should still be able to see the benefits of dynamic clock gating on the X850 XT PE.

Even with dynamic clock gating, the Radeon X850 XT PE consumes more power at idle than the Radeon X800 XT. However, considering that it runs at higher clock speeds and operates a more powerful fan, that’s not too bad. The X850 XT PE does consume less power at idle than the GeForce 6800 Ultra, even though it requires more power at full tilt.

Overclocking
I quickly used ATI’s Overdrive utility to determine a supposedly safe overclocked setting for the Radeon X850 XT PE. ATI’s tool settled on core and memory clock speeds of 590MHz and 1282MHz—up from 540MHz and 1180MHz stock. Those clock speeds actually produced some artifacting and, eventually, a lock up, but not before I got a benchmark score out of it:

I haven’t had time to play around and find optimal stable settings yet, but the X850 XT PE actually seems to have a little bit of headroom for overclocking.

 
Conclusions
The Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition’s performance has always been stellar, but the cards have been extremely hard to come by. If these new Radeon X850 cards can solve that problem, more power to them.

As most of you know, I rarely recommend that anyone actually purchase a $549 video card like the Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition, or even a $499 card like the X850 XT. That’s a very high price to pay when there are better values to be had at $399 and below. However, if you want to have the fastest single graphics card available, the Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition is it. The X850 XT PE came out on top in the majority of our tests, and it did especially well when 4X antialiasing and 8X anisotropic filtering were enabled. The most notable exception was Doom 3, where the GeForce 6800 Ultra was faster, but not by all that much. ATI’s decision to use application-specific optimizations in its video drivers, as NVIDIA has done for some time now, has allowed the Radeons to close the gap in Doom 3.

The more interesting developments in the Radeon lineup, for a cheapskate like me, are the lower-priced, R430-based options like the Radeon X800 XL. I’m especially curious to see how that card performs. Also, I have a feeling the green team will be responding with some changes of its own in the not-too-distant future. Maybe they’ll go for broke with a triple-wide cooler? 

Comments closed
    • HiggsBoson
    • 15 years ago

    It’s amazing what the top end card can do, it’s actually competitive in some benches with a 6800 Ultra SLI setup. You’d think that the dual-cards would just stomp over everything (and to be fair they mostly do) but the X850XT PE keeps up better than you’d expect.

    • sharok
    • 15 years ago

    Good article, however I must say I am extremely disappointed by the results of SLI.
    I would like someone to tell me why a dual-card configuration can be not significantly faster than a single-card one (except for Doom 3, but I’m not playing that, so I don’t care). There’s something there that does not compute. Is it a driver issue, or is the hardware implemented correctly ? Or maybe the CPU is not fast enough ?
    On the other hand, kudos to ATI for holding the performance against SLI in HL2. That is very impressive.

      • Koly
      • 15 years ago

      The very probable reason is that the high end cards are quite CPU limited and moreover the SLI setup seems to have much higher CPU utilization than a single card.

        • indeego
        • 15 years ago

        SLI also has latency on those lanes to deal with, the software not exactly written for SLI in the first place, and right, CPU for the massive computations that must be going on just to coordinate the whole thingg{.}g

          • BabelHuber
          • 15 years ago

          Dual core CPUs will probably come in handy for SLI setups.

    • Hellsbellboy
    • 15 years ago

    ugh all this crappy made Flash is slowing everything down.

      • DrDillyBar
      • 15 years ago

      I noticed this also, but only at work. My home computer is fast enough apparently. 🙂

        • hmmm
        • 15 years ago

        My 3.3 GHz Northwood is not fast enough.

    • Skyline57GTR
    • 15 years ago

    Where is other latest NV48? yet? :S
    well, X800XL look better, but not much better than even X800XT….I guess so 6800Ultra SLI beats the everythings now. Whatever…I alway stick single slot graphic card only, if two slot graphic card, it would not fit small factor case do like that. Hey, this is good review…

        • indeego
        • 15 years ago

        I find that respectable that they held out releasing it. I’m certain their are more business reasons than what is listed int hat article, still, it’s nice to see a company hold back when they could take advantage of dead-air in the marketplaceg{<.<}g

          • Convert
          • 15 years ago

          Well they haven’t lost anything yet on the high end since ATI is already considered the top dog. If ATI has a GT killer on its hands Nvidia will wish they had pushed forward.

            • indeego
            • 15 years ago

            ” ATI is already considered the top dog.”

            I beg to differ. Respectfully, of courseg{<.<}g I own ATI now, but it's likely my last ATI card for a while, as I rather dislike their drivers.

            • Convert
            • 15 years ago

            Well yeah, if you factor in drivers and other things like power usage and heat then yes it can sway your decision. I was just talking about performance though (excluding sli).

          • kvndoom
          • 15 years ago

          I do too. Releasing that would have ticked a lot of peeps off. ATI’s refresh doesn’t really stand to anger too many, since they never could produce the 800’s in any kind of volume.

    • Convert
    • 15 years ago

    Excellent as always. Did a great job with the selection of cards.

    At first I was disappointed by the results but I realized this is nothing more than a replacement card to help cut down costs and help availability. If you get a few more fps out of it then excellent. I too am anxious to see how the lower priced cards perform, if that 400$ card can knock a 6800gt off its perch then I know what card I will be buying.

    “Some folks have pointed out that different models of graphics cards may vary with respect to the amount of voltage going to the graphics chip or memory.”

    Thank you sir. You show a 6800gt sli though, weren’t the test cards ultras? Not a big deal of course but thought I would point that out.

    I have never really cared about dual slot coolers. I mean a lot of people go out and Buy dual slot coolers to replace their single ones. If this thing is quiet then excellent job ati. I like how they bring in cool air from the outside to blow over the card. It still puzzles me why nvidia didn’t do the same.

    *Oh and I also frequently have a *[

    • maxxcool
    • 15 years ago

    One more thing on dual slot coolers, its not that big a deal…. i have been removing stock coolers and planting cpu heatsinks on my VPU’s since they began using clips. Unless your running 5 pci slots (and what the hell would you need 5 for?) i think anyone pissing all over themselves for losing a pci slot for a powerfull VPU cooler is just nuts in general…

    maxx

    • maxxcool
    • 15 years ago

    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.7.5) Gecko/20041107 Firefox/1.0

    Just as a fyi since the topic is hittin on it, im runing redhat 9 with firefox 1.0, i loaded up java 1.4.2 and have no browsing issues…

    my windows box with 1.0 is also just fine with java “1.5.0”

    maxx

      • dukerjames
      • 15 years ago

      i using firefox 1.0, no viewing problem, but the ads on the right side is using 99% cpu cycles. need to search for a good adblocker plugin

    • axeman
    • 15 years ago

    The multi-textured fill rate for a 6800 Ultra SLI setup in 3dmark is over 13 giga-texels per second! F$%K! Remember when a gigapixel fill rate was a lot?

    • swaaye
    • 15 years ago

    Is anyone else STUNNED by the prices of these cards?

    8500 debuted at $299, GF4 Ti4600 @ $399, 9700 arrived at $299

    These prices are crazy. Why do you people buy video cards that cost $5-600 when you should know they will be obsolete in at most 6 months! Go voice of the public (dumbasses with big wallets)….

      • indeego
      • 15 years ago

      Don’t forget these cards blow previous generations out of the water, some by 100%, have very very limited availability. So most people are not buying these cards, nor these high end processors. Most of us just want the mid-range to come down in price and get these in a year or two.

      I personally haven’t paid more than $150 for a vid card in like 4 years. Still using a 9600xt fine, it worked great for HL2 and DIII. Both games have no replayability for me so paying any more for a 3-d card would be silly.

      Who i[

        • Captain AMD
        • 15 years ago

        I dont agree, the 9700 blew everything clear out of the water and held it’s place far longer than any of these cards will. It’s the 16pipe 256MB chips that we are paying for.

          • indeego
          • 15 years ago

          It did not double the performance for every game.
          It did not double the performance for a single game.
          It _[

            • swaaye
            • 15 years ago

            A $200 midrange isn’t really SHOCKINGLY affordable…c’mon. lol

            Midrange used to be ~$150 or less.

            Face it, card prices are generally on the rise, unless you want 2-3 yr old tech in the low end price range of $150 or less.

            • Krogoth
            • 15 years ago

            9700PRO could offer double the performance with AA/AF enabled over the GF4 Ti4600 when it debute. The 9700P didn’t really shine until Northwood Cs and Bartons came out in quanity.

      • jss21382
      • 15 years ago

      r[

        • swaaye
        • 15 years ago

        “Are you smoking crack? 9700 pro’s are a little over 2 years old and they still compete with the mainstream cards that are new this year, so somehow I doubt in at most 6 months these cards will be obsolete.”

        I have a 9700 PRO. Will have it for a year or two to come. The card has kept alot of its resale value over the years. They still run ~$120 or so on eBay, and more if you actually shop for one new.

        I see a sort of lessening depreciation in the market. Cards aren’t becoming worthless nearly as fast because game developers can’t keep up (which itself is due to too many people owning GF4MX and other older cards, cuz they don’t see a good reason to upgrade (chicken and egg situation)).

        Basically, what’s happening has never happened before in the 3D card market. These cards are keeping their value for years, and maintaining their usefulness in even brand new games coming out several years after the card’s release. Ever try to play a game on Voodoo2 3 years after its release? Slightly different than playing Half Life 2 on my 9700PRO, I promise.

          • Anomymous Gerbil
          • 15 years ago

          Huh? In your original post, the cards will be obsolete in six months. Now you’re saying “these cards are keeping their value for years”. Make up your mind!

      • SXO
      • 15 years ago

      I think prices are slowly going up, and it probably started slightly on accident. The short supply initially lead to the higher prices, but the few that they had were actually selling, so why would they lower the prices now?
      And while the mid-range tends to be the highest sellers, there are some of us that buy the high-end, not because we’re rich ([less than $20,000 a year here]/), but because we actually want to get every bit of detail out of the latest generation games. Now it’s become impossible to get that without taking out a small loan, or selling some organs. I don’t like the idea of having to wait until next year to finally play Doom III, FarCry, or HL2 at 1600×1200 with full detail because I just can’t afford it right now. I used to be able to afford it.

      • MagerValp
      • 15 years ago

      It might have something to do with the USD dropping over 30%. A card that costed $299 two years ago is now about $399 or even $449.

        • indeego
        • 15 years ago

        That’s inflation, and while it has risen high in the last few months, a 30% rise in U.S. inflation would pretty much kill the world economy for a tad.

        The U.S. dollar rising and falling against other currencies is due to our increasing trade and self-deficits (money we owe ourselves because this republican administration is INCREASING the size of the government and spending LOTS on silly Iraq!) The dollar rising and falling doesn’t have too much to do with products sold here, at least in the short term. Inflation IS picking up however and prices ARE risingg{.}g

          • SXO
          • 15 years ago

          Let’s not get into the political garbage. The fact of the matter is prices for almost all other hardware is still dropping, but not for video cards, so your inflation theory is out the door. The high-end in video cards used to be around $300-$400, now it’s what, $600? Don’t you see something wrong here?

    • PRIME1
    • 15 years ago

    $550 vapor card….Wow! 🙂

    I am waiting for PCIe to become the standard and for the spec to improve.
    For my money I would rather run an SLI setup. ATI is grasping at straws, like Intel they will have to realise that Mhz is not the answer.

      • hmmm
      • 15 years ago

      I don’t see how they’re grasping at straws. Their current problems virtually all center around availability. These new products are supposed to help solve that issue.

      You’ll probably end up spending at least $500 on an SLI rig ($200 6600GT x2 + $100 more on the motherboard) if you go for the low-end card. You could spend $900 (6800gt) to $1100 (6800ultra).

      It seems likely ATI’s high end card will out perform your dual 6600gt’s. It will be competitive with the dual 6800gt’s. And it will cost half as much as the dual 6800ultra’s. Now maybe it is just me, but I have a hard time spending $400 on a video card, much $1100.

    • spuppy
    • 15 years ago

    After reading this review, bar graphs > line charts

      • indeego
      • 15 years ago

      *[

    • stmok
    • 15 years ago

    You don’t need to install third-party ad-blocking software.
    Firefox can drop Tech Report’s high CPU usage consuming ads.

    Go here => §[< http://www.mozilla.org/support/firefox/adblock.html<]§ Worked for me! No more ads. Now everything is nice and smooth again!

    • indeego
    • 15 years ago

    “The ATI-branded version of this puppy is supposed to be available at online resellers today, right as the product launches.”

    I looked and found nothingg{.}g

      • PerfectCr
      • 15 years ago

      Same here. Maybe at ATI.com? Didn’t look there.

        • jss21382
        • 15 years ago

        ATI has the x850xt PE for “pre order”

          • leor
          • 15 years ago

          that sounds familar, i wonder if people will get X850s before the poor suckers who are still waiting on their pre order X800 PEs.

            • Convert
            • 15 years ago

            Wow…. That just dawned on me, talk about sad.

            • SXO
            • 15 years ago

            What they should do is send them an X850 instead and forget the damn X800XT Phantom Edition.

            • jss21382
            • 15 years ago

            I wouldn’t put it past them if they find the 850 easier and cheaper to make

      • melvz90
      • 15 years ago

      well guess what pal… its another one of ATI’s Phantom Edition Cards…. 🙂 they haven’t addressed the issue about production of high end cards…. and here we are again with a new one…..

        • Convert
        • 15 years ago

        Part of the reason for them bringing out a new card is that it’s supposed to help production in some fashion. That’s the point. Why spend so much money bringing a brand new product out when they could have just kept the old one around? Obviously in the long run the lowered production costs and boosted sales from the products actually existing in retail form will pay off.

        I wouldn’t call it vaporware.. yet.

    • stmok
    • 15 years ago

    Its an interesting article (even though it doesn’t make me want to invest in any technology atm, especially minor speed bumps and SLI), but I have to agree with the others (#6, #9, #11) about the ads causing major CPU usage issues. When you get 100% usage on a 600Mhz setup used for web surfin and emails, something is not right.

    I’m sorry Tech Report, but I’m blocking your ads.

      • Damage
      • 15 years ago

      I see the problem with CPU use on the NewEgg ad. We are asking them to look into it. Sorry about that.

      Please don’t run ad blockers. You will kill the site.

        • spuppy
        • 15 years ago

        I think it’s an issue with FireFox. Animated GIFs and Flash Animations of all types cause super high CPU load for me.

        I’m willing to give it up for tabbed browsing though, but I hope they fix it soon!

        Although it COULD be related to video drivers. I had a similar issue on my AIW 8500. Animated GIFs would kill it, especially those with a lot of frames. Back then, then AIW didn’t get many driver updates, but when ATI finally did release an update, that issue was fixed.

        • Ricardo Dawkins
        • 15 years ago

        man…sorry for that..but I’ll never block the ads on your site unless you start using the *ugly* popups…

        I just dont understand ppl like #8 or #31 blocking site ads…and sites that gives info for FREE !!!. I want to ask them: what they do with ads in newspapers or magazines..they rip off the ads from those….what will happen when those amazing newspapers we see on movies like “Minority Report” ?…will these ppl stop reading and watching news media..magazine and the like…

          • kvndoom
          • 15 years ago

          I have flashblock set on my Firefox browsers, but that’s all I block. I simply despise Flash in most all its incarnations. Stuff moving on the screen when I am trying to read is just too distracting. My eyes are quick to jump to movement. I realize that the intention of flash ads /[

      • Hockster
      • 15 years ago

      Yep, and although maybe not quite as bad, 100% CPU usage on a 2.53GHz system is still absolutely awful!

      This high CPU usage happens to me quite a lot these days, not just on this stie and with NewEgg ads – on many others too. Happens a lot on Gamespot, Gamespy or IGN, one of them (or probably all of them!) anyway, I can’t remember which. Makes me wonder why I bothered installing that damn Flash Plugin…

      Is this problem just with Firefox by the way? I can’t actually remember having any problems at all with IE and Flash, although the last time I used that was a long time ago now.

      EDIT: I just quickly went hunting for another high-CPU flash ad and found this page on Gamespy to have high CPU usage (70-90%). I think it’s the Star Wars ad on the right-hand side:

      §[< http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/half-life-2/569798p1.html<]§ EDIT AGAIN: The Star Wars flash ad doesn't seem to always load on that page but it is there sometimes (as well as on many other pages on different websites too, I think). When you hover the mouse over the add a light sabre moves...very annoying...

        • Ricardo Dawkins
        • 15 years ago

        it’s Gamespot the worst offender…that site really sux..big time with those Ads taking a lot of my CPU usage….damn.

        This happens in IE..too..so don’t bother changing browsers

    • Ruiner
    • 15 years ago

    Scott,
    Was it easier or harder passing the x850 from your rectum than is was the twin 6600s?
    lollers

    (read the comments under the recent SLI writeup if you missed the gag, folks)

    • MorgZ
    • 15 years ago

    tbh i think this is pretty appalling from ATi. These cards are basically ramped clock speeds. What about all those poor sods who spent rediculous amounts on their *in stock* X800 XT’s only to now find that 1-2 months later ATi are going to shortly b releasing even more cards.

    If i had purchased a ATi X800 card over a GF6800 cardif id be extremely pissed off.

    If anything these new cards prove that the GF6800 won the battle upon release.

      • kvndoom
      • 15 years ago

      This is the way it”s gonna be for a long time, I fear. The AMD vs. Intel war has slowed down for a good while, so now it’s all eyes on NVIDIA and ATI.

      On a side note, how long will it be before video cards have to have their own case and power supply, with an external link to the main computer? I sense nukular meltdown!

      • hmmm
      • 15 years ago

      Meh, this is the 6-month product refresh a couple months early because they couldn’t get the previous cards to hit retail availability.

      Whenever you buy a video card, you’ll be obsoleted right away. This shouldn’t suprise anyone. Besides, on the bright side of the availability problem, not many people have the x800 XT PE that is being phased out. o.0

        • jss21382
        • 15 years ago

        guess it depends on your definition of obsolete…Even if you bought a X800pro odds are for the next year you’ll probably have a faster card than most of your friends

    • Alex
    • 15 years ago

    Great review Scott, nice work. 😉

    • maxxcool
    • 15 years ago

    Until I can actully go to best buy/frys and find 850’s in stock i’m not even going to read the review. Nothing against the editiors mind you.

    maxx

    • Captain AMD
    • 15 years ago

    Not bad, this came sooner than I expected. But nothing groundbreaking. Does anyone think we’ll ever see another graphics performance jump like the first GeForce cards or the 9700Pro?

      • flip-mode
      • 15 years ago

      Isn’t that what we saw and then some just six months ago?

      • jss21382
      • 15 years ago

      Just did some digging around for old benchmarks….in 2000 the original Geforce 256 wasn’t even twice as fast as the TNT 2 Ultra, in 2002 the 9700Pro was about double the speed of the GF3 Ti500, And the top end cards of this fall are roughly double the speed of the 9800 pro, or more depending on the game, so I’d say we’re about on track as far as the major improvments have been going, doubleing every 2 years or so

    • flip-mode
    • 15 years ago

    Does anyone else hate the look of that cooler as much as I do?

    • Chrispy_
    • 15 years ago

    So, does the first ever “Built by ATi” twin-slot cooler suck air in from the case and blow it out the back, or do those many, many watts of heat get dumped right underneath your CPU?

    It’s a serious point. Hot air belongs outside the case. I’d feel sorry for Prescott owners trying to keep their CPU’s cool directly above another near-100W heatsource….

    • Ricardo Dawkins
    • 15 years ago

    flash…neweggg and OCZ ownz firefox…!!! ahahaha

    • Hance
    • 15 years ago

    Thresher if your using IE at work you can go into the security tab and turn the active x warning off cant remember exactly how to do it though .

    • Illissius
    • 15 years ago

    Thoughts, in no particular order:
    – Awesome review.
    – Goddamn… they really did do something there for Doom 3. Props to ATi – considering how a few months ago the X800XTPE was in a dead heat with the plain 6800, and now it’s inching up on the Ultra, that’s pretty amazing.
    – Other than that, performance seems relatively unchanged at the high end. SLI beats everything, X800/50XTs beat everything else, 6800GT beats X800 Pro.
    – I was especially keeping an eye on the 6600GT/X700XT. I remember the X700XT winning like one bench at 1600×1200 4x8x, where it got 17fps to the 6600GT’s 16. Other than that, the 6600GT swept. Odd, considering they were mostly even back in the X700XT review.
    – The 6800 was conspicously absent from some of the 1600×1200 4x8x graphs, but based on the results available, it’s not really worth buying a 6800 over a 6600GT, assuming the latter does actually get down to its MSRP of $200 sometime. (If it’s $240 vs $270, then that’s about how much extra the 6800 is worth). They were in a dead heat most of the time, with the 6800 occasionally gaining a slight margin.
    – ATi’s feet should be aching pretty badly by now considering the amount of times they’ve had to insert them in their mouths* in the past few months. App-specific optimizations, dual slot coolers… what next, fairies, mermaids, and OpenGL? (* – for some reason I wanted to pluralize that in the same way as mouse – mice o_O)
    – 3DMark05 actually seems like a fairly accurate measure of performance this time around. Interesting.
    – wtf @ the X850 Pro having less fillrate than the X800XL, and being listed for $50 more.
    – The R430s are looking pretty damn nice from out in the distance here. 6800GT and 6800 beaters, respectively, for $50 less than each. X800 Pro at $300, as well.
    – I’m eagerly awaiting nVidia’s response (NV41/48). Hopefully they won’t take the high road and will lower their prices to match ATi’s now very competetive ones. I’d say that it’s what I’d actually consider buying, the whole Linux thing, you know, but that’d actually be false, as I won’t likely go above a 6600GT anyways, which is already pretty clearly the winner at its pricepoint.
    – Phew. That was a bit more thoughts than I originally thought I had when I started typing this.

      • nerdrage
      • 15 years ago

      The 6800 beats the 6600GT by a significant margin when AA and/or AF are turned on. Otherwise it’s a statistical dead heat.

    • highlandr
    • 15 years ago

    Quick note, the linkage to the HL2 demos is broken, though I found it pretty quickly in your SLI review…

    (Looks for a fun night of seeing how far behind the leaders a 9600XT is…)

    • MagerValp
    • 15 years ago

    Hey, plain X800 at $249. Not bad.

    • blitzy
    • 15 years ago

    FSCK! god damn flash ads crashing my firefox and disrupting my fricken reading of this review

    GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRr

      • drfish
      • 15 years ago

      Yeah, with like 100% CPU usage, my poor folding client…

        • blitzy
        • 15 years ago

        yep, its that fricken tall vertical strip newegg add thats doing it im sure…..

        i fricken got rid of flash just to read this review because it was pissing me off that much……………

          • crose
          • 15 years ago

          Blocked. Adblock does a great job. 🙂
          I hope TR doesn’t loose to much revenue because of it but I would never shop at Newegg anyway since I don’t live in the US.

            • Samlind
            • 15 years ago

            I shop at Newegg all the time, and I blocked it. Adblock is the only thing that works on Flash crap. However, Nuke Anything is available (not at Mozilla’s site anymore, you have to Google it) and works for anything else, and it’s not permanent.

            I do make a point of clicking though ads on TR pages when I have time. That’s because I enjoy the content and want to help. But when I can’t read the damn article for the wildly moving margins, out comes the ax.

            • indeego
            • 15 years ago

            Paypal donate on the front page. plz useg{<.<}g

        • Damage
        • 15 years ago

        I see the problem with CPU use on the NewEgg ad. We are asking them to look into it. Sorry about that.

        Please don’t run ad blockers. You will kill the site.

          • Samlind
          • 15 years ago

          Damage, I really understand. But please believe me when I say I can’t your type of article while continually being distracted by moving ads demanding attention. If you were the “Stupid Videos” site then it wouldn’t be an issue. But I really read your stuff for understanding and think about what your write. I don’t need the distraction.

      • Thresher
      • 15 years ago

      I keep getting ActiveX errors here at work. It’s the OCZ ads that screw me up. I’m at work and we have ActiveX controls turned off, so every time I come to this page, I get an ActiveX warning, which I cannot turn off, I just have to click OK and move on.

      Very annoying.

        • Illissius
        • 15 years ago

        /me enjoys the schadenfreude… :evilgrin:
        (Opera)

          • hmmm
          • 15 years ago

          /me enjoyed the word “schadenfreude”.

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 15 years ago

        I get something asking me to download ocz*… from techreport.com…kinda weird…this is w/ firefox

      • flip-mode
      • 15 years ago

      Thank goodness, I thought it was a problem only I was having. I uninstalled flash yesterday. TR seems to have some particularly intense flash going on (of the sites I visit)

      • PerfectCr
      • 15 years ago

      Ad block extension and all your problems are solved!

      • hmmm
      • 15 years ago

      Seriously, I think Firefox has an issue with Flash because ads consistently destroy my CPU or make the browser unresponsive to the point that the mousewheel doesn’t scroll the page.

        • Shining Arcanine
        • 15 years ago

        Only with a few tabs open do I have performance issues on my other computer.

        Anyway, I have the latest copy of this filter set for AdBlock so I don’t have to worry about the ads:

        §[< http://www.geocities.com/pierceive/adblock/<]§

          • indeego
          • 15 years ago

          My adblock list is about 6 times this long. Blocks silly gif’s like on slashdot’s headers and screen real estate. donate to TR. Always respect! YOg{

      • boing
      • 15 years ago

      No problems here, I use Win XP SP2 and Opera v7.54. When surfing TR Opera uses around 5-7% CPU-time on my Duron 1.3 GHz.

    • Hance
    • 15 years ago

    this is wonderful . the x800xt pe is rare as a virgin at an adult film start convention and they are comming out with another new card . why not make a few of the current card first ? and this is comming from an ati fanboi

      • jdevers
      • 15 years ago

      That’s the whole point, this should be easier for them to manufacture AND is slightly faster.

        • hmmm
        • 15 years ago

        IAWTP

    • Ricardo Dawkins
    • 15 years ago

    oh…man…can I say WTF….can I ???

    they are in a real fight with NV. I wasn’t expecting this thing before ’05. Are they really in a 6 month product cycle….? Cool card…great review…but where is my X700 here in my country ???

    • intel_killer
    • 15 years ago

    800 XL looks to be the king of the hill, as far as price/performance ratio.
    Reminds me much of my 9800Pro 128 meg edition, good performance but greater value when I bought it.

    If I look to keep an ATI card in my box the XL gets my vote, well done TR.

    • flip-mode
    • 15 years ago

    It’s gonna take a while for me to get used to the profile of that cooler. At the moment, its the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen attached to a graphics card.

    -[

    • daniel4
    • 15 years ago

    Great review, even though I haven’t read it yet and am just posting because I like to be first. GJ as usual TR.

    Edit: Now that I have read the review, seems like the X850s are going to overclock a lot better. B3D says the Overdrive rating could go as high as 648Mhz on the core.

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