Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: The new Radeon X1950 Pro performed well throughout our entire battery of benchmarks. CPU utilization was competitive to NVIDIA's offering during HD video playback, and in the game tests the Radeon X1950 Pro performed right about where it should according to its proposed MSRP, that is to say it was a bit faster then the GeForce 7900 GS and a bit slower than the 7950 GT, overall.
ATI's latest mid-range offering is a success on a couple of different levels. Building the GPU using TSMC's 80nm process resulted in a smaller die, and relatively low power consumption and operating temperatures. The quiet, single-slot cooler is another plus and native CrossFire support is sure to win over a few consumers who were put off by the external dongle necessary with previous offerings. ATI is also positioning the Radeon X1950 Pro at an affordable price-point.
Prices Courtesy of ATI
According to ATI, the Radeon X1950 Pro will be replacing the X1900 GT in their product stack and will ultimately settled down at about $199 (the proposed MSRP). Initially, ATI expects their partners will price their X1950 Pro cards in the $220 to $240 range, but once availability is widespread prices are expected to drop and hover around MSRP. Speaking of availability, ATI says the Radeon X1950 Pro will be on-sale immediately. We'll update this portion of the conclusion with actual pricing and availability notes once we find X1950 Pros for sale at some of our favorite resellers.
One thing to keep if you're in the market for a new video card right now is that Windows Vista, which ships with DirectX 10, is looming on the horizon. Although there have been no formal announcements, rumors are running rampant, and you know both NVIDIA and ATI are working on DX10-class hardware with a host of new features and enhancements. We don't expect initial DX10-class cards to be available for anywhere near $200 (think more along the lines of $600), but next-gen cards are coming soon. When you'll be able to get one as fast or as affordable as today's mid-range offerings like the new Radeon X1950 Pro, however, is still anyone's guess.