In 2006, ADM released ATI Radeon X1900 GT Graphics Card which is a mid-range graphics card. It delivers good performance in games and 3D applications. It contains a speed of 575 MHz and 256 MB of GDDR3 memory.
There is no denying it, ATI has done a fantastic job with their high-end X1900 cards, and the XTX variant arguably holds the performance crown in a single-card configuration, besting the 7900 GTX for raw power and image quality. Not all is perfect for ATI however, and the problem highlights itself when you take a look at their entire product range from top to bottom.
Moving to Nvidia’s lineup for a moment, I can easily name a new card for each market sector in a flat second – the 7900 GTX for the high end, the 7900 GT for mid to high, and the 7600 GT for the mid-range.
ATI Radeon X1900 GT Graphics Card covers a good percentage of people’s needs, especially those who would most likely visit a website like this one. But I could go one further and name a low-end part, too, the 7600GS.
My point? Try doing that with ATI’s lineup right now without suffering a seizure… difficult, isn’t it? ATI has the high-end covered magnificently with the aforementioned cards, but where to go? Well, they have the X1800 XT I suppose, a now discontinued last-generation card comparable to the 7900 GT in performance. It’s still a wonderful card for the money, but it’s hardly a mainstream part.
They also have the X1800 GTO, which performance-wise is comparable to the 7600 GT. But once again, it is based on an older, bigger, more expensive SKU which consumes more power, thus creating a hotter running card.
Currently, ATI’s mid-range options appear weak compared to those of Nvidia. Nvidia has brought a full line of products to market in a single swoop. And at key price points while using a significantly less complicated architecture than ATI.
To help tackle this quite major problem, ATI has recently released the ATI Radeon X1900 GT Graphics Card, a cut-down R580-based GPU which on paper, looks to be a real contender to Nvidia’s 7900 GT. Once again, this is not exactly a cheap part to produce but that’s for ATI to worry about. For us, it’s all about the performance!
Connect3D was kind enough to send over their retail ATI Radeon X1900 GT Graphics Cards, and that’s what we will be looking at today.
The ATI Radeon X1900 GT Graphics Card is built using an R580 core with one of the quads disabled. This allows ATI to start using up those unused R580 cores that didn’t make the grade for X1900XT/X boards. What you end up with is a 36-pixel shader, 12 texture units, and 12 ROP parts, that when compared to the 7900 GT appear a little underwhelming.
The ATI Radeon X1900 GT attempts to make up for this with a much higher core clock of 575 MHz – 125 MHz faster than a 7900 GT. Taking everything into consideration, the 7900 GT looks to have the edge on paper. But because of the remarkably different approaches to pipeline configuration here, it’s actually rather tough to guess the outcome.
ATI’s X1800 XT makes an appearance here as it is still available in retail at an attractive price. It certainly boasts enough wealth to give its replacements a run for their money. We have the 256MB version here on test today, which if you look around can be had for £170 – quite a bit cheaper than the other two here.
The X1800 XT will eventually be phased out, and to be honest if you do still want one, grab it ASAP. A stock 7900 GT will set you back around £200, while the Connect3D X1900 GT is currently listed for £188 at OCUK. So it currently is a little cheaper than the 7900GTs out there.
Connect3D Radeon X1900 GT Board
The mighty R580 core
The X1900 GT is based on R580, which means the same issues associated with this core filter down to the mid-range – die size and power consumption. R580 is a 384m transistor chip with a die size of 352mm².
Compare this to the 7900 GT, a 287m transistor part with a die size of 196mm². It’s a monster by comparison and a much more expensive chip to produce. Because one quad is disabled, it will be less of a power hog than a full-blown 48-pixel shader part. Hence why it can lose the dual-slot cooler for a much quieter single-slot solution.
The new cooler for this card is a break from tradition for ATI. That’s right folks. This card is very quiet. It’s a strange old world we live in really, ATI launched a competitive part to the 7900GT and it’s based on a much larger, hotter running core (R580). Yet they manage to create a card that runs very quietly.
On the other hand, Nvidia’s 7900 GT cards which employ the tiny and heavily optimized G71 core sound like a vacuum cleaner.
The reason? Nvidia’s 7900GT reference design disables the normal fan controller on other Nvidia cards like the 7900 GTX or 7800 GT. The fan now runs at 100% fan speed all the time, and trust me, it’s damn annoying. This is unforgivable for such a modern GPU, but I’ll vent out more in our upcoming 7900GT/GTX review.
So, out of nowhere, ATI has managed to create a quiet card (for once). While Nvidia has not, and we’ve gained a single-slot cooling solution. ATI’s card will no doubt consume more power at load. So if power consumption is something that concerns you (SFF owners), the 7900 GT is the better option.
FEAR is a very demanding first-person shooter which uses a high ratio of ALU operations. It is an important benchmark to gain a glimpse of how a particular card may hold up with future game titles, of which all are increasing the use of ALU operations.
Getting good performance in FEAR is quite possible these days, so we max out the in-game quality settings, and bar soft shadows which cause quite a performance hit for little gains in image quality.
The red arrows show those settings which will be determined during testing, while all the others stay as shown.
Some games run at quite a consistent frame rate, but F.E.A.R. is not one of them. You could net 140fps avg in a corridor but then open a door into a large room and watch it go as low as 30fps. To keep things enjoyable you do need to be around the 45~50fps mark as anything less dramatically decreases the quality of play.
Once you go under 40 fps avg you really will find the whole experience quite annoying, and certainly not optimal. For this reason, we find the highest image quality settings while maintaining a 45+ average frame rate.
Also worth noting is that FEAR is quite heavily scripted, with ghost-like zombies walking past a doorway as you enter a room, or a flashback triggered by opening a door, etc. When many of these moments occur, you will notice a slight pause as the scripted sequence is loaded in.
This is why you will see the minimum fps as 0, these scripted sequences cause pauses every now and then. It’s worth noting that Nvidia cards handle these moments much more smoothly than ATI cards.
While with Oblivion the ATI cards dominated, it’s now Nvidia’s turn with FEAR. Even a 7800 GT outperforms the X1900 GT, though HQAF is present on ATI’s cards. It’s well known that FEAR favors Nvidia hardware, but it’s clear that the 12 texture units/ROPs are holding back the X1900 GT. The 7900 GT absolutely destroys the X1900 GT, allowing the same IQ setting but at 1600×1200 instead of 1280×960.
The X1800 XT 256MB performs much better than the X1900 GT but cannot touch the 7900 GT. FEAR it seems is as much Nvidia’s as Oblivion is ATI’s.
The 7900GT holds a whopping 30.5% advantage over the X1900 GT. In fact, even a 7800 GT performs better. The X1800 XT 256MB performs very well here and shows the X1900 GT how it should be done.
Again, we see the 7800 GT outperform the X1900 GT, and a massive 31% performance advantage is held by the 7900 GT. The FEAR engine just doesn’t seem to agree with the X1900 GT, and it must be attributed to its 36/12/12 (pixel/texture/ROP) design.
And finally, at 2048×1536, the story is exactly the same. The 7900 GT is well ahead of the competition. This time we see a 44.2% advantage held by the 7900 GT. It really is no contest, in its price bracket the 7900 GT absolutely owns in FEAR.
The ATI Radeon X1900 GT Graphics Cards offer solid performance and are popular among gamers and 3D graphics professionals. It is the best option for the one who is looking for a balance between performance and cost.
The X1900 GT is now considered outdated as new and more powerful graphics cards have been released, which may lead X1900 GT to struggle to run demanding games and applications. For a piece of advice, consider a recent model if you want to use better graphics cards for modern gaming.