The Best Graphics Card for $399?
It is clear that the Radeon HD 2900 XT with its current drivers cannot compete against Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX or Ultra, which, by the way, cost substantially more, the latter costs ($829 and up) more than two Radeon HD 2900 XT graphics cards, in fact. But maybe ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT is the best graphics card for $399?
Well, it is either as fast, or faster than GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB in most cases, but it has performance issues with such games as S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl , Neverwinter Nights 2 , Gothic 3 and probably some other. At some point those problems are going to be solved, but when – we do not know. So, performance-wise, ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT is a good solution.
In addition, AMD’s partners will include four free games with each Radeon HD 2900 XT graphics board: Half-Life 2: Episode 2 , Day of Defeat: Source , Team Fortress 2 and Portal . This increases overall value of the product to a gamer.
However, with sufficient performance and free games come power consumption of 161W as well as very noisy cooling system (at least, in case of our board) in addition to imperfect drivers, which, for example, do not allow to enable FSAA with edge-detect filter, something, which is projected to provide high image quality amid minimal performance drop. As a consequence of such driver limitation of the Radeon HD 2000, Nvidia’s GeForce 8800 can claim better image quality, as its CSAA works without an issue.
All-in-all, it is up to end-user to decide whether ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT is the best graphics card for $399 or not. It has a lot of advantages and the main one is truly extreme shader processing capabilities, but it also has a number of drawbacks.
- Acceptable level of performance in high resolutions with 4x FSAA and 16x AF
- Wide choice of antialiasing modes
- Supports FSAA and floating-point HDR simultaneously
- Excellent quality of anisotropic filtering
- Future-proof with support for DirectX 10 and Shader Model 4.0
- Supports hardware tesselator unit for future games
- Supports fully hardware decoding of H.264 and other HD video formats
- Unified architecture with 320 stream processors
- 512-bit memory bus
- Efficient cooling system
- Imperfect drivers
- Perhaps, insufficient number of texture processors and render back end processors
- High power consumption
- Noisy cooling system
- New FSAA methods may blur image