Summary & Conclusion
Benchmark Summary: Due to the fact that the new Radeon X850 XT PE and Radeon X800 XT PE are architecturally similar, we won't focus on how the X850 XT fared versus the X800 XT. As we mentioned earlier, the X850 XT Platinum Edition is basically just a higher-clocked X800 XT, hence it swept the X800 XT in every benchmark we ran. What's more interesting is how the X850 XT performed versus NVIDIA's GeForce 6800 Ultra. When compared to the GeForce 6800 Ultra, the Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition won 29 of 44 tests, it lost 10, and fought to a draw in 5. And the X850 XT Platinum Edition performed best when antialiasing and anisotropic filtering were enabled, which is how owners of a high-end card like this should be gaming. Winning or tying in 77% of the tests we ran puts ATi in a strong position, at least as far as performance goes with a single graphics card installed...
The ATi Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition is a powerful graphics card that is more than capable of playing all of today's popular games at high resolutions with great frame rates. Based on the benchmarks we ran here today, we could make the argument that the X850 XT Platinum Edition is the fastest consumer-level video card ever built. There are some questions and concerns that need to be addressed, though.
ATi's X800 XT Platinum Edition was made available only in very limited quantities, and if you could find one at all, you likely paid well over MSRP for at retailers. The fact that the X850 XT Platinum Edition is clocked 20MHz higher than the X800 XT PE justifies concern for this product's availability. However, because we found our X850 XT to have so much overclocking headroom, and the changes made with R480 were done to increase yields, we think ATi will be able to produce far more R480 cores capable of running at 540MHz. Getting the R423 up to 520MHz was a different story altogether. ATi claims that X850 will be available in early January. We hope the company can pull it off. If it doesn't, a pair of GeForce 6800 GTs could very easily sway potential X850 buyers who are looking to make the platform jump to PCI Express enabled graphics.
Also note that all five of the new Radeons announced today will only be made available for PCI Express. That likely means that the vast majority of you reading this article will need a new motherboard and maybe a new power supply if you wish to upgrade to one of these cards. The shift to PCI Express was inevitable, and multiple chipsets for both the AMD and Intel platform are available now, or will be in the near future, but not having AGP versions of the X850 and X800 XL available will surely leave some enthusiasts wanting more.
For many of you, the really exciting part of today's announcement is the Radeon X800 XL. A 16-pipeline video card for less than $350 that uses a single-slot cooler and doesn't require supplemental power sounds quite appealing, not to mention the potential that overclocking the new 0.11-micron R430 could yield. Although with no low-k, we don't expect miraculous overclocks. We are eager to get our hands on the X800 XL and X800 to see just what they can do. When they do finally arrive, we'll be sure to let you know!