Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: The new Radeon X1650 XT performed on-par or slightly better than a GeForce 7600 GT throughout our entire battery of tests. A pair of Radeon X1650 XT cards running in CrossFire mode, however, traded victories with a pair of GeForce 7600 GT cards running in SLI mode and occasionally lost by a wide margin, like in the F.E.A.R. benchmark. The X1650 XT was also clearly more powerful than the X1650 Pro, but the more expensive Radeon X1950 Pro and GeForce 7900 GS and GT cards were quite a bit faster than the new X1650 XT.
ATI's new Radeon X1650 XT is a solid cost competitive offering, given a few caveats. If the card hits store shelves at its proposed price point of $149, it fills a nice gap in ATI's mid-range product offerings and competes favorably with NVIDIA's similarly priced products. The card performs well, doesn't require supplemental power, it takes up only a single slot, and it supports Native CrossFire. All good things.
Unfortunately, representatives from ATI (or should we say AMD now?) have informed us that board partners are not likely to hit MSRP, at least not initially; a recurring theme it seems with ATI these days. NVIDIA clearly has a better handle right now on executing for volume production ramps and getting costs in line quickly. For example, you can now finally find a Radeon X1950 Pro from Sapphire for the product's target MSRP of $199 but it took a few weeks to get there. Also, unfortunately Radeon X1650 XT cards won't be available for a couple of more weeks (November 13). At $150, we'd have no problem recommending the Radeon X1650 XT to those of you in the market for a card in that price range. If they creep up to the $170 to $180 range though, we'd say save your pennies and pick up a GeForce 7900 GS or Radeon X1950 Pro. Of course, as always, it's up to ATI to make the former option a reality. Let's hope they do.