ATI CrossFire Technology Showcase

Article Index

Our Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: ATI's Radeon X850 XT CrossFire implementation compares very favorably to NVIDIA's previous generation of GeForce 6 cards. Throughout our battery of benchmarks, the Radeon X850 XT CrossFire configuration was able to outperform a pair of GeForce 6800 Ultras in most Direct3D tests, but in the OpenGL tests using Doom 3 and Riddick, the 6800 Ultras took the lead. NVIDIA's GeForce 7800 GTX cards were untouchable in most tests, however. Perhaps a pair of ATI's next-gen cards will be able to compete more closely with a GeForce 7800 GTX SLI rig?  Time will tell.

It has been a long time coming, but after multiple delays and frustrating paper launches, ATI's CrossFire is finally here, and the results are promising. It is obvious that CrossFire was a reactionary measure on ATI's part to combat the acceptance of NVIDIA's SLI, but that doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things if the solution delivers on its promises. And for the most part it does. The X850 XT CrossFire configuration we tested scaled very well in all of the games we tested, and bested its main competition, the GeForce 6800 Ultra, in most tests. The similarly priced 7800 GT however, would likely have put up much better numbers, but we were unfortunately not able to test them in an SLI configuration. To combat the 7800 GTX though, ATI's got to do something more, and the current product positioning suggests they're going to try and do just that...

Product Positioning

Product Price (USD) Product Price
Coming Soon TBA GeForce 7800 GTX SLI 2 x $485
Radeon X850 XT CrossFire 2 x $399 GeForce 6800 Ultra / 7800 GT SLI 2 x $350
Radeon X800 XL CrossFire 2 x $299 GeForce 6800 GT SLI 2 x $280
Radeon X800 CrossFire 2 x $199 GeForce 6800 2 x $150

** 10/6/1005 - The table above has been updated to reflect ATI's actual pricing on X850 CrossFire.  X850 CrossFire Edition cards are listed on ATI's site for $399, 14% higher than the $349 originally quoted. **

We suspect the "Coming Soon" portion of the table above will be of great interest to most of you after seeing what we've shown you today. Clearly at the moment, NVIDIA's SLI platform is more appealing to consumers at any given price point.  While our overall impression of the underlying CrossFire Technology is mostly positive, save for the klunky dongle and lack of user controls, the way its implemented on the X800 series isn't perfect. The 1600x1200x60Hz resolution / refresh rate limitation is a detriment to the platform, as is current chipset and motherboard support. All of these issues will likely change in the not so distant future, however, as ATI releases more information on their next-gen parts. One major redeeming factor is image quality though.  ATI's super-AA modes are very good, and produce some of the best images we've seen on the PC.

We were told you can expect to find CrossFire Edition graphics cards and motherboards almost immediately, and official drivers should be released on October 5. Let's hope for competition's sake that ATI delivers on their promises.

_Good Performance Scaling
_Excellent AA Quality
_Finally Available?
_Couldn't test mis-matched cards
_Not as refined as SLI
_Max resolution / refresh limitations

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