Performance Summary: Without question, the ASUS EAX1900XTX is a strong performer. Surely, the ability to play today's games at a resolution of 1600x1200 with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled is something all gamers should experience. Aside from NVIDIA's new GeForce 7950 GX2 with its dual GPU's, this is arguably the fastest single-GPU based graphics card currently available.
Out of the box, the ASUS EAX1900XTX is somewhat like the Swiss Army knife of retail graphics cards. Buried within the briefcase-sized box is a wealth of software, cables, and accessories. On one hand, gamers have one of the fastest single-GPU graphics cards money can buy with the ability to toy with high resolutions and enhanced image quality settings at will. On the other hand, we see a very competent piece of multimedia hardware with the ability to handle both Video-In and Video-Out. Add complete support for ATI's own AVIVO technology to further enhance video image quality and you have an exceptional candidate for a high-end gaming / HTPC system. Looking at the bundle, we find a wide array of applications and games to keep users occupied for a significant amount of time after first opening the box. Overall, you cannot help but feel as though you're getting your money's worth when dealing with an out of box experience such as this.
Although we were impressed with the flagship ATI card from ASUS, there certainly are areas for improvement. First and foremost, we were slightly disappointed to see ASUS go with the vast majority of graphics card vendors and keep the reference heatsink assembly. Although the cooler does a solid job in keeping temperatures under control, the overall noise and pitch produced by the blower may bother some users. This is a shame as we previously mentioned that the card's performance and multimedia functionality would make this an incredible graphics card for a HTPC. However, with the amount of noise billowing out the back of the system the PC would not remain in the living room long before being sent back into the office or gaming room. Our second gripe is the decision to ship the card using the stock reference frequencies. In a day when nearly every NVIDIA-based card is offered with factory-oveclocked speeds it would have been nice to see the Asus EAX1900XTX get the same treatment. Regardless, this is an issue which is resolved with a simple click within the driver panel as users can overclock the card on their own with ease.
Had NVIDIA not released the GeForce 7950 GX2, we would have been more impressed by the ASUS EAX1900XTX. Compared to the GeForce 7900 GTX, this ATI-based card walks away with a good amount of benchmark victories. However, looking at the EAX1900XTX's current $488 street price, we see that the cost is dangerously close to the dual-GPU GeForce 7950 GX2 which can be found as low as $558. One glimpse at the benchmarks between these cards and we quickly begin to get the feeling that NVIDIA spoiled an otherwise stellar party for ATI. With that said, it should be noted that you can pair the Asus EAX1900XTX with a Radeon X1900 XT Master Card in Crossfire mode for a serious speed boost. In addition, having the ability to use any motherboard of choice based on either an ATI Crossfire or Intel i975x chipset is a luxury currently enjoyed only by those gaming with ATI graphics cards.
With all this in mind, we see the ASUS EAX1900XTX as an excellent option for those looking for a powerful single graphics card and whose preference falls to ATI. Overall, we were impressed with the card's combination of performance, functionality, and accessories and give the ASUS EAX1900XTX an 8.5 on the Hot Hardware Heat Meter.