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Conclusion

The RADEON X1600 XT 256MB proved to be nothing else but a pretty fine mainstream graphics card that sports some capabilities for the future and packs pretty serious performance for today. But the new mainstream graphics solution from ATI is definitely not the ideal one.

In current games, except some OpenGL titles, the RADEON X1600 XT generally manages to offer similar or higher performance compared to the GeForce 6800 product. This means that the product is supposed to outperform the GeForce 6600 GT, probably the best performance-mainstream offering of the recent years. On the one hand it seems that the RADEON X1600 XT does redefine the market of powerful, but not expensive graphics cards, but on the other hand it has some serious competitor – the GeForce 6800 GT – from the high-end, which is officially priced only $50 above, but can be obtained for about $249, the MSRP of the RADEON X1600 XT 256MB.

As our test results show, the GeForce 6800 GT and the RADEON X800 XL are much faster than the RADEON X1600 XT 256MB, yet, their prices have been dropping for the past several months now and they are likely to cost approximately the same amount of money compared to the RADEON X1600 XT parts. This means that graphics cards makers will have to decrease pricing of the RADEON X1600 XT in order to make it more appealing to customers.

At this time there are numerous advantages the RADEON X1600 XT has over the predecessors and some of the rivals: high Shader Model 2.0 performance, a very efficient Shader Model 3.0 implementation, support for HDR, Avivo video engine and hardware H.264 decoding support, higher-quality anisotropic filtering as well as relatively low power consumption. The obvious disadvantage of the part is a small number of TMUs, which does limit performance in a number of games.

While everything said above seems to be correct just now, the RADEON X1600-series is only expected to be shipped for revenue starting November 30, 2005, which means that some things may be corrected, for instance, ATI may improve its drivers, while NVIDIA may once again decrease official pricing on the GeForce 6800-series. All-in-all, the final word is yet to be said.

Highs:

  • Relatively high performance in nearly all games;
  • Alpha-textures antialiasing;
  • Avivo video engine and hardware H.264 and other HD formats, such as HD WMV decoding;
  • Shader Model 3.0 support;
  • HDR support;
  • Quality anisotropic filtering support;
  • Low power consumption.

Lows:

  • Noisy cooling system;
  • Outperformed by competitors in OpenGL and some other titles;
  • Drivers may require polishing off;
  • Possibly overpriced;
  • Not completely clear time-to-market.
 
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