Articles: Graphics

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Cut-throat competition between ATI Technologies and Nvidia encouraged them not only to introduce new high-end graphics solutions every half a year, but sometimes to even completely update their entire product line-up. Of course, this state of things is very favorable for the end-users, because it ensures pretty rapid price drop for the new products as well as quick performance improvement in all market segments.

Since it is hardly profitable to develop two-three new GPUs every half a year, the leading GPU developers try to modify their GPUs so that they could last them a little bit longer. It means that each GPU will find its way into a wide variety of graphics products. So, the flagship solutions, like ATI R520 and Nvidia G71 can be found not only in$549+ graphics cards, but also in $199 solutions. However, the latter solutions can also be based on specifically developed low-cost GPUs.

When ATI and Nvidia updated their product line-up in the fall of 2006, they pursued different strategies: the former introduced new RV570 and RV560 chips, while the latter designed new products using the already existing G71 graphics processor.

Today we are going to tell you about two new graphics cards: ATI Radeon X1950 Pro (RV570) and Nvidia GeForce 7900 GS (G71) priced at $199. In our detailed review we will try to figure out which card boasts better performance and is more promising from the future prospective, the good old buddy G71 or the specifically developed newcomer from ATI.

ATI Radeon X1950 Pro

Where Did It Come From?

As a matter of fact, after the announcement of the Radeon X1000 series nearly every mainstream graphics card from ATI Technologies has been built on GPUs and PCBs that were originally meant for high-performance top-end products. For example, take the Radeon X1800 GTO or the Radeon X1900 GT that are based on the R520 and R580 chips, respectively.

Using this approach, the company avoided spending money and resources on developing new components, yet there is a downside to it, too. Based on chips and PCBs from top-end products, ATI’s mainstream graphics cards had high power consumption and heat dissipation as well as a high cost of manufacture. The company’s reserve of the out-dated R520 chip was eventually depleted while using the full-featured R580 to produce mainstream graphics cards made no economical sense. Perhaps they were using defective graphics cores to make the Radeon X1900 GT, yet this didn’t solve the problem of high power consumption and heat dissipation anyway. The need to create new mainstream GPUs became apparent. The existing RV530 chip (Radeon X1600) didn’t suit that purpose due to its rather low performance.

Surely ATI Technologies was aware of all that and new GPUs were under development, but creating a new GPU from scratch is a time- and resource-consuming task, so the above-described policy just helped the company hold its ground until the new GPUs expected to replace the R520/R580 chips in midrange products were ready. As for price segments of $259 and higher, the company still feels quite confident there. The Radeon X1950 XTX and the Radeon X1900 XT 256MB are quite competitive and will remain such until the arrival of the next generation of high-performance GPUs. As of today, ATI’s and Nvidia’s products are distributed among the different price niches like follows:

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