Sapphire Radeon X1900 GT

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It can be tough for a company to decide how and where to market a video card in today's demanding retail environment. Price something too high and only a brave few might purchase the card; price it too low and it could be dismissed as a low-end or budget card by some consumers, regardless of its value proposition. These issues can typically determine where said card can be purchased. It's no coincidence that large resellers like Best Buy or Circuit City typically only carry merchandise under a certain price point, as this is where the bulk of sales are generated.

The flip side to this situation is maintaining the leadership in a two-way contest at the high-end. Every couple of months NVIDIA and ATI typically duke it out to create the fastest card possible. This results in the highest-end cards coming out first, which are then followed by the more mainstream variants. This is where we find the Sapphire Radeon X1900 GT, a card based on the powerful R580 core, but clocked down to bring the price to a more acceptable level. The X1900 GT also has 12 shader units and 4 ROPs disabled for a total of 36 and 12, respectively. And as we've just mentioned, its GPU core and memory frequencies are reduced to 575/600MHz (an XTX is rated at 650/775MHz and an XT at 625/725MHz).

    
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Sapphire Radeon X1900 GT
Features & Specifications
Features - ATI Radeon X1900
. 380+ million transistors on a 90nm fabrication process
. Ultra-threaded architecture with fast dynamic branching
. Forty-Eight pixel shader processors
. Eight vertex shader processors
. 256-bit 8-channel GDDR3/GDDR4 memory interface
. Native PCI Express x16 bus interface
. Dynamic Voltage Control

Ring Bus Memory Controller
. 512-bit internal ring bus for memory reads
. Programmable intelligent arbitration logic
. Fully associative texture, color, and Z/stencil cache designs
. Hierarchical Z-buffer with Early Z test
. Lossless Z Compression (up to 48:1)
. Fast Z-Buffer Clear
. Z/stencil cache optimized for real-time shadow rendering
. Optimized for performance at high display resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions


Avivo Video and Display Engine
. High performance programmable video processor
_o Accelerated MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264 decoding (including DVD/HD-DVD/Blu-ray playback), encoding & transcoding
_o DXVA support
_o De-blocking and noise reduction filtering
_o Motion compensation, IDCT, DCT and color space conversion
_o Vector adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing
_o 3:2 pulldown (frame rate conversion)
. Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time
. HDR tone mapping acceleration
_o Maps any input format to 10 bit per channel output
. Flexible display support
_o Dual integrated dual-link DVI transmitters
_o DVI 1.0 / HDMI compliant and HDCP ready
_o Dual integrated 10 bit per channel 400 MHz DACs
_o 16 bit per channel floating point HDR and 10 bit per channel DVI output
_o Programmable piecewise linear gamma correction, color correction, and color space conversion (10 bits per color)
_o Complete, independent color controls and video overlays for each display
_o High quality pre- and post-scaling engines, with underscan support for all outputs
_o Content-adaptive de-flicker filtering for interlaced displays
_o XilleonTM TV encoder for high quality analog output
_o YPrPb component output for direct drive of HDTV displays
_o Spatial/temporal dithering enables 10-bit color quality on 8-bit and 6-bit displays
_o Fast, glitch-free mode switching
_o VGA mode support on all outputs
. Compatible with ATI TV/Video encoder products, including Theater 550
Ultra-Threaded Shader Engine
. Support for Microsoft DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 programmable vertex and pixel shaders in hardware
. Full speed 128-bit floating point processing for all shader operations
. Up to 512 simultaneous pixel threads
. Dedicated branch execution units for high performance dynamic branching and flow control
. Dedicated texture address units for improved efficiency
. 3Dc+ texture compression
_o High quality 4:1 compression for normal maps and two-channel data formats
_o High quality 2:1 compression for luminance maps and single-channel data formats
. Multiple Render Target (MRT) support
. Render to vertex buffer support
. Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL 2.0


Advanced Image Quality Features
. 64-bit floating point HDR rendering supported throughout the pipeline
_o Includes support for blending and multi-sample anti-aliasing
. 32-bit integer HDR (10:10:10:2) format supported throughout the pipeline
_o Includes support for blending and multi-sample anti-aliasing
. 2x/4x/6x Anti-Aliasing modes
_o Multi-sample algorithm with gamma correction, programmable sparse sample patterns, and centroid sampling
_o New Adaptive Anti-Aliasing feature with Performance and Quality modes
_o Temporal Anti-Aliasing mode
_o Lossless Color Compression (up to 6:1) at all resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions
. 2x/4x/8x/16x Anisotropic Filtering modes
_o Up to 128-tap texture filtering
_o Adaptive algorithm with Performance and Quality options
. High resolution texture support (up to 4k x 4k)


CrossFire
. Multi-GPU technology
. Four modes of operation:
_o Alternate Frame Rendering (maximum performance)
_o Supertiling (optimal load-balancing)
_o Scissor (compatibility)
_o Super AA 8x/10x/12x/14x (maximum image quality)
_o Program compliant




                       Sapphire Radeon X1900 GT:

                         ATi Radeon X1900 GT
                               Core Speed: 575MHz
                           Memory Speed: 600MHz
                                   256MB GDDR3   

Although the X1900 GT may be targeted at the mid-range market segment, the accompanying bundle was anything but average.  Whereas other manufacturers tend to shy away from adding a complete assortment of goodies as a cost-saving measure, Sapphire hasn't skimped on anything here, whether it's the included software, bundled games, or cables and other attachments.

    

Starting with the media, two titles come by the way of Cyberlink, PowerDVD 6 whichi is one of the better decoding software packages out there, and PowerDirector 4. The next CD provides buyers with a choice: pick any two of four available games from a list including: Tony Hawk's Underground 2, Richard Burns Rally, Prince of Persia - Warrior Within, or Brothers In Arms (Road to Hill 30).  This assortment covers just about all of the major genres, so there should be something for everyone.

There was also a collection of cables and adapters included with the Sapphire Radeon X1900 GT, exactly matching what we've seen included with the upscale XTX. This included a standard 6-ft S-Video cable, a composite video cable, and two DVI-to-VGA adapters along with a splitter for connecting the card to an HD-TV's components inputs, and another adapter equipped with S-Video and composite video inputs and outputs. Lastly, there was a molex-to-6-pin PCI Express power cable adapter thrown in as well, useful for older power supply units lacking such a connection.

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