- Incredibly powerful, Beats the competition
- Quite costly
If you don't play high end games, then the PowerColor X1900XTX isn't for you. For serious gamers it could be a worthwhile purchase, though an expensive one.
Price$ 990.00 (AUD)
The sceptical customer might expect the X1900 XTX, which follows closely on the heels of the X1800 series, to be little more than a more refined retread of a familiar path. This would be the wrong impression.
Incontestably the fastest graphics card we've seen in recent times and almost unfeasibly expensive, the X1900 XTX has a huge amount of untapped potential that could turn it into a barnstormer. Whether this potential will be realised and whether it's worth the cost is more debatable.
At first glance, the XTX offers little that's radical compared with the X1800 XT. Its memory bandwidth of 49.6GBps (gigabytes per second) is only slightly better than the X1800 XT's 48GBps. The XTX is built to the efficient 0.09-micron manufacturing process, but so was the XT - and 512MB of memory is no improvement.
But the key to the X1900 XTX's potential success is pixel pipelines - bags of them. These consist of programmable units that allow games coders to alter the way each pixel is shaded. The programmer can now create all manner of effects and textures.
First introduced in DirectX 8.0, programmable pixel pipelines have been used more and more by game coders looking to create something different from the norm. They're quickly replacing traditional dedicated texturing units in importance, since today's pixel shader can do most of the jobs previously handled by texture units - while consuming far less memory bandwidth.
That's been the theme followed by most of the big graphics card releases of modern times, although it's never before been made as apparent as here. The X1800 XT had 16 pixel pipelines, while nVidia's GeForce 7800 GTX boasted 24. But ATI has blasted both of those into submission with the X1900 XTX's 48 pixel pipelines.
In tests, the XTX was faster than both the X1800 XT and the 7800 GTX across many of today's games. On titles including Quake IV, Splinter Cell and Far Cry it was, on average, 2fps (frames per second) to 3fps faster at resolutions of 1,280x1,024 and 1,600x1,200 with no detail settings turned on. With anisotropic filtering and anti-aliasing turned up to the full, the lead reached 8fps to 13fps. But even with everything turned on, there were some games - Fear in particular - where the lead was not so great. Even the most modern of today's games aren't built to take advantage of the Radeon's stunning architecture.
The complexity of today's games should give you an idea of how sophisticated cutting-edge graphics cards have become. But this achievement has come at a price: today's high-grade cards consume an enormous amount of power. It makes little sense to pour your cash into a graphics card for your PC, only to find your pride and joy bursting into flames because the PSU (power supply unit) can't take the pace. A 450W PSU ought to be enough for the X1900 XTX or an equivalent, but why not go the whole hog and upgrade to the latest in PSU technology?
As an immediate purchase, the Sapphire X1900 XTX wouldn't make sense. It's far too expensive, and ATI is relying on games programmers sharing its view and cranking up the pixel pipelines to the full. It's a card whose time may come, but until then, you'll be better off with the X1800 XT, which is likely to hit a far more competitive price point with this release.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Review: TCL C1 series 4K TV
- 2 Sony 75-inch UHD TV (X9400C) review: Sony and Android are a winning duo
- 3 LG 55EG960T OLED UHD TV
- 4 Panasonic Viera UHD TV review: good hardware, fragmented software
- 5 Microsoft Lumia 640 review: Honouring Nokia's legacy
Best Deals on Good Gear Guide
Latest News Articles
- Total War: Warhammer DirectX 12 performance preview: Radeon reigns supreme
- Radeon Polaris GPU and Bristol Ridge APU should be featured by AMD at Computex
- Google's Tensor Processing Unit said to advance Moore's Law seven years into the future
- Confirmed by Nvidia: Official GeForce GTX 1070 tech specifications leak
- Rumours are true: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 officially supports only 2-way SLI setups
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- FTInfrastructure Specialist VMwareNSW
- FTSenior Business AnalystVIC
- CCTechnical PM - Magento E-Commerce SolutionNSW
- CCSenior BA - Enterprise DataNSW
- CCScrum MasterACT
- CCSystems Engineer - Wintel, VMWare and CitrixNSW
- CCBusiness Analyst, LifeNSW
- CCechnical Specialist ApplicationsACT
- CCSenior iOS DeveloperNSW
- CCInfrastructure Deployment ManagerVIC
- CCBI/Information/Data/Solution ArchitectNSW
- FTSenior Network Engineer - Australian Systems Integrator - Immediate interviewNSW
- FTNV1, NV2 Network Engineers | Permanent role with diverse Defence projectsACT
- FTSenior Developer (Full stack)SA
- CCTechnical WriterACT
- CCSolutions Architect - SAP HANAQLD
- FT.NET DevelopersQLD
- FTNetwork SpecialistVIC
- CCApplication Server AdminACT
- CCOracle Fusion SOA/BPEL DeveloperVIC
- CCTest Analyst / Test LeadNSW
- FTProduction ConsultantVIC
- CCNV1 Consultant | Groundbreaking Defence decision support applicationACT
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (.NET C#/MS ASP .NET) 160526/AP/263Asia
- FTSenior Network Engineer - Technical LeadACT