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ATI CrossFire: Compatibility Issues

If we disregard the absence of any performance improvement in some games, there were no fatal compatibility issues with this platform. Once the mainboard damaged on the way to the lab was replaced, ATI CrossFire platform proved highly stable and reliable throughout the entire test session. All games would boot without any problems, except Pacific Fighters, and the image quality was identical to the reference. As for the performance improvement brought by the multi-GPU technology, ATI CrossFire cannot boast much unfortunately, especially against the background of more successful NVIDIA SLI:

ATI CrossFire

NVIDIA SLI

Battlefield 2

+

+

Chronicles of Riddick

+

+

Doom III

+

+

Far Cry

+

+

F.E.A.R. Multiplayer Demo

-

+

Half-Life 2

+

+

Painkiller: Battle Out of Hell

-

+

Pariah

-

+

Project: Snowblind

- (!)

-

Unreal Tournament 2004

-

+

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within

+

+

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

+

+

Colin McRae Rally 2005

+

+

Lock On: Modern Air Combat

-

+

Pacific Fighters

+

+

Perimeter

+

-

Warhammer 40.000: Dawn of War

+

+

Aquamark3

+

+

Final Fantasy XI

-

-

3DMark03

+

+

3DMark05

+

+

+ performance improvement

- no performance improvement / performance hit

As you can see, ATI’s technology showed 0 or negative performance increase in 7 tests out of 21, while the competitor’s technology failed to cope with just 2 games and one semi-synthetic benchmark. Nothing to be surprised at, actually: SLI technology was introduced almost a year ago, so they definitely had enough time to bring it up right and make into a reliable solution. ATI Technologies also did have enough time to finalize their multi-GPU CrossFire technology: 4 months have passed since their preliminary announcement. It looks like 4 months turned out not quite enough. However, ATI has very little time left, as the R520 based product line is about to be released soon, too. And by the time the new graphics products are out, ATI CrossFire should be already at least as functional and efficient as NVIDIA SLI.

ATI CrossFire: Pricing

After a few postponed announcements, ATI RADEON X800/X850 CrossFire do not strike the High-End graphics accelerators market as a very powerful solution. Of course, ATI corrected the pricing of its X8 accelerators in order to meet the market realities, however, it will hardly make the new technology more attractive for the customers. According to the latest recommended pricing from ATI, CrossFire Edition graphics cards should be priced between $199 and $349:

  • RADEON X850 XT CrossFire Edition - $349;
  • RADEON X800 XL CrossFire Edition - $299;
  • RADEON X800 CrossFire Edition - $199;

This way the today’s top configuration is positioned to compete not really with the dual GeForce 6800 Ultra, but with mostly with a GeForce 7800 GT, which price has been dropped lately. And if in the first case ATI’s solution does look not bad at all, then in the second case RADEON X850 XT CrossFire will have really hard times, especially keeping in mind all those problems we have just talked about today.

As for the less expensive solutions, it would make sense to buy two graphics cards instead of one only in one case: if the two of them will cost no more than an analogous solution with one GPU onboard. Since ATI is going to roll out the whole new generation of graphics solutions in the nearest future and since NVIDIA may also exert some price pressure over the market, dual-card RADEON X800 based solutions will have very hard times competing with the single-chip champions. However, RADEON X800 XL CrossFire Edition and RADEON X800 CrossFire Edition will turn out so unpopular that none of ATI’s partners will be willing to ship them at all.

 
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