MSI looks to add executive chic to a winning laptop formula
Gigabyte Radeon X1900XTX (GV-RX19X512VB)
- Heavily weighted towards SM 3.0 capabilities, powerful specifications.
- Fan noise, price
While benchmarks will show little differences between this card and the top NVIDIA card, the 7900GTX, the X1900XTX's architecture gives it a little more longevity and should perform well until it's time to switch to a true DirectX 10 capable card. The only downfall is that this is still an expensive card and if you think you'll be doing an upgrade in the mid, rather than the long-term, you may wish to opt for one of the new cards from either manufacturer that sits at a better price point.
Price$ 750.00 (AUD)
The ongoing battle between NVIDIA and ATI may have temporarily leaned in NVIDIA's favour with the release of their DirectX 10 compatible, Windows Vista ready 8800 cards, but ATI aren't out of the game.
This PCI-e card costs less that the DirectX 10 capable 8800 cards, and until game developers start utilising the features that DirectX 10 will offer the Radeon X1900 XTX will be more than enough for anyone's gaming needs.
Although benchmarks will show this card to be almost identical in performance to the GeForce 7900 GTX, its main rival, there are certain features that really put it firmly in the lead. ATI has put a lot of thought into the actual design of the card, tweaking the hardware to match the needs of today's games.
That's not to say this card doesn't also have a lot of raw power. With a core speed of 650MHz and a memory clock of 775MHz (1550MHz) the X1900XTX can render with the best. However, it's the utilisation of shader processors that make it really stand out. With a total of 48 shader processors, twice that of competing NVIDIA cards and three times what the Radeon X1800 series, this card is undoubtedly geared to bring all the benefits of SM 3.0 to life. DirectX 8 brought in programmable shaders and DirectX 9 ramped up the capabilities of games to look realistic and take on real-world environmental effects. Although the NVIDIA 8800 cards are so far the only cards to be DirectX 10 capable, the X1900XTX is likely to remain the best built card to handle DirectX 9 in all its glory. Another key benefit of ATI's GPU architecture is the ability to run High Dynamic Range lighting while anti-aliasing (AA) is turned on, which no NVIDA cards could echo until the 8800 series was released. This is something that will become more important as HDR becomes more commonplace.
We ran the card through 3DMark 2006, FEAR and Quake 4 at the standard resolutions to see how well it will run for the average user. In 3DMark 2006 it scored 4466; a good result and about the same as its rival the GeForce 7900GTX, which scored 4487. In FEAR, with a resolution of 1280x960 and using full detail, including 8xAA and 16x anisotropic filtering (AF) it scored 57fps (frames per second). In Quake 4 we tested it on a resolution of 1280x1024 with high detail using no AA first and then 4xAA. With no AA it scored 69.6fps, which barely changed when 4xAA was turned on, with a result of 67.4fps.
The card itself is one of the longest available and is thick enough that you'll find it imposes on more than one PCI-e slot. One of the biggest criticisms of this card has to do with the fan and how loud it is. Even when idle this card hums with a noticeable fervour, but at peak usage it verges on imitating a jet engine. This may not bother gamers with speakers blaring or noise dampening headphones, but may get irritating to anyone else who has to use the computer.
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