Without any doubts, from the architectural point of view, ATI RADEON X1000 is the most advanced graphics architecture for the PC to date. The RADEON X1800 – ATI’s newest top-of-the-range offering – not only sports Shader Model 3.0, High Dynamic Range and image quality enhancement capabilities – such as quality area anisotropic filtering and adaptive antialiasing – but also provides future proof by featuring H.264 video decoding hardware acceleration, really speedy pixel shader 3.0 branch execution as well as efficient and reprogrammable Ring Bus memory controller.
When working on the RADEON X1000 product line in general and the top-of-the-range X1800 XT solution in particular, ATI paid special attention to the practical value of each of the above mentioned features. According to the company representatives, the graphics card makers try to take advantage of all the features offered by the new architecture, making sure that nothing will be wasted. Today we saw that the Shader Model 3.0 support was really done for good: just look how the RADEON X1600 XT manages to leave behind a far more expensive and enhanced GeForce 7800 GTX during dynamic branching and pixel shaders 3.0 processing. In addition, ATI’s new RADEON X1000 family copes perfectly well with multi-pass rendering, and full-screen anti-aliasing, according to our preliminary observations.
Taking into account very efficient architecture, namely Ultra-Threading Dispatch Processor, reprogrammable memory controller, high clock frequencies and a great number of execution units (ALUs), we expect RADEON X1800, RADEON X1600 and RADEON X1300 to show worthy and competitive results during our gaming test session.
However, things are not so completely cloudless. The fastest product in the new family, the RADEON X1800 XT consumes a lot of power and sometimes still fails to outperform the competitor in complex pixel shaders 2.0, because GeForce 7800 GTX boasts more pixel processors onboard.
RADEON X1800 XT, as well as RADEON X1800 XL are built on relatively long PCBs and use massive cooling systems, which can hardly be regarded as an advantage. Although, we cannot call their competitors compact either. Moreover, since the system cases have grown bigger during the last couple of years, only a dual-slot design of the cooling system used for the top-of-the-line solution may be considered too bulky and inconvenient. RADEON X1600 XT and RADEON X1300 PRO are designed on more compact and practical PCBs, although their reference cooling systems could use some improvement in terms of the level of generated noise.
We will not draw any conclusions about the perspectives of these new graphics solutions in the today’s market today, because it would be possible only when they go through our detailed gaming test session. So, what I am driving at is: stay tuned for more articles on the new ATI RADEON X1000 product line!