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The Radeon X1900 family
ATI is spinning the R580 out into a family of four Radeon X1900-series products, and this family is decidedly upper-middle class.

GPU clock (MHz) Memory clock (MHz) Price
All-In-Wonder X1900 500 960 $499
Radeon X1900 XT 625 1450 $549
Radeon X1900 CrossFire 625 1450 $599
Radeon X1900 XTX 650 1550 $649

ATI's new king of the hill is the Radeon X1900 XTX, which is about all of the X's we can handle in a name. (Secretly, though, I wish XFX would begin making Radeons, so we could be treated to the XFX Radeon X1900 XTX.) The X1900 XTX should be only a slight bit faster than the Radeon X1900 XT, but you'll pay a hundred bucks extra for the bragging rights on what may be the fastest single video card known to man. Obviously, both the XT and the XTX should perform very well.

If the performance of just one of these cards isn't enough for you, you can slap down another $599 for the Radeon X1900 CrossFire Edition. This card is clocked like an X1900 XT, not an XTX, so it will limit performance somewhat for XTX owners in the most efficient CrossFire load-balancing mode, alternate frame rendering. Still, with 96 pixel shaders at your beck and call, I suspect you'll somehow suffer through.

ATI says all three of these Radeon X1900 cards—the Radeon X1900 XT, XTX, and CrossFire—should be available at online retailers starting today. They have said such things in the past, of course, and missed the date by a week or more. But they've been very emphatic about their determination to achieve widespread product availability on the launch date, and I'm hopeful. Some online retailers even started listing the cards for sale ahead of time.

ATI will also begin selling the multimedia-oriented All-in-Wonder X1900 on its own website today, with availability at other online stores "in the coming weeks." They're aiming to deliver a European version of the AIW X1900 by the middle of February, as well.

The Radeon X1900 CrossFire (left) and Radeon X1900 XTX (right)

The Radeon X1900 cards themselves look comfortingly familiar, with the same basic layout and dual-slot cooler as the Radeon X1800 XT. In operation, they make about as much noise as a Radeon X1800 XT—or not too terribly much. Those blowers do kick it up a notch or two when running a 3D app or game, but noise levels are similar to other high-end graphics cards.

The Radeon X1900 CrossFire's compositing engine is unchanged from the X1800

ATI hasn't made any notable changes to the compositing engine on the Radeon X1900 CrossFire Edition, either. This card has the same set of chips and compositing capabilities as the Radeon X1800 CrossFire master card. This newer CrossFire engine relieves some of the worst shortcomings of the original Radeon X850 CrossFire scheme, but it doesn't eliminate the need for a special CrossFire Edition card or an external dongle connector.

In case you were wondering, the Radeon X1900 series is more or less a replacement for the Radeon X1800 line. Of course, Radeon X1800 cards should still be available for a time until resellers sell out of their current stock, and there may be some bargains to be had. However, once those are gone, that's pretty much it. The X1800 series will be no more, and ATI's product offerings will officially consist of the Radeon X1300, X1600, and X1900 lines. That leaves a gaping hole between the bottom of the X1900 series—the AIW X1900 at $499, if you count AIW cards—and the Radeon X1600 XT at $169. I'm sure ATI will address this vast swath of the market with new products at some point, but apparently the Radeon X1800 won't live on in a lower price bracket.