Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: There are a number of comparisons that are important to consider in this summary. First, lets talk about the 256MB Radeon X1900 XT. The 256MB Radeon X1900 XT performed very well, besting a GeForce 7900 GT virtually across the board and it finished right alongside a GeForce 7900 GTX in many of our tests. If this card is actually released at the price ATI is claiming it will be, we suspect it will be quite popular. The Radeon X1950 XTX was also an excellent performer. In a single-card configuration, the Radeon X1950 XTX was faster than a GeForce 7900 GTX in almost every test. The GeForce 7950 GX2 was faster than the Radeon X1950 XTX more often than not, however. The same scenario plays out in the multi-GPU/multi-card configurations as well. A Radeon X1950 XTX CrossFire configuration was faster than a GeForce 7900 GTX SLI setup in the vast majority of the tests, but Quad-SLI came out on top most of the time. The tests were much closer than expected though, considering the battle at the top was between two ATI GPUs and four NVIDIA GPUs.
ATI's new line-up of Radeons seem to put the company in a good position as we approach the all important fourth quarter of the year. Although we were unable to test the Radeon X1650 Pro and X1300 XT in time for launch, their specifications and projected price points should allow them to compare favorably to NVIDIA's current entry-level offerings. We're told cards are on the way to lab "as we speak", however, so we'll be able to tell how the Radeon X1650 Pro and X1300 XT stack up for certain very shortly.
** Update September 5, 2006: Radeon X1300 XT and Radeon X1650 Pro images and benchmarks are now available on pages 4-11 of this article.
** Update September 26, 2006: As of today, ATi has yet to deliver either the Radeon X1300 XT or Radeon X1650 Pro in major quantities, and unfortunately, the cards that are available are priced higher than what was quoted by ATI below. We have not been able to find Radeon X1300XT cards for sale, and the X1650 Pro cards that are out there are priced around $130 as of today.
Projected Pricing According To ATI
The 256MB Radeon X1900 XT put up some very good numbers considering its projected $279 MSRP as well. At that price, the 256MB Radeon X1900 XT will fall somewhere in between a GeForce 7900 GT and 7900 GTX. Its performance was clearly better than the 7900 GT though, which makes it easy to justify the increased expense. The Radeon X1950 XTX is in a similar position. With a proposed MSRP of $449, the Radeon X1950 XTX's price should lands somewhere in between the GeForce 7900 GTX and GeForce 7950 GX2. Looking at our benchmark results and accounting for its 2GHz GDDR4 memory and redesigned cooler, that's a fair position to be in. The Radeon X1950 XTX out-muscled a 7900 GTX most of the time, and traded victories with the GX2. The Radeon X1950 XTX is a strong performer, and is arguably the fastest single-GPU card we've ever tested.
The $64,000 question is whether or not these new Radeons actually arrive with street prices that approach their MSRPs. Although ATI is announcing the cards today, they won't be available in any kind of quantity until September 14 at the earliest, so we won't be able to check "street" prices until then. If they arrive on-time and can be purchased at, or below, MSRP, ATI's line-up looks great heading into the holiday buying season. If they don't show at retail on time, or if the cards are considerably more expensive than MSRP, however, NVIDIA's offering becomes all the more attractive. As usual, we'll know more in the coming weeks.