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Radeon X1800XT 512MB reviewed

Review Scores too tight, neither kicks other's butt
Wed Oct 05 2005, 14:51
ATI FINALLY launched its highly anticipated R520 core and it's finally ready to share the details with the world. The company had many problems and delayed this product massively but now when the cards are out things are going to get better for them.

R520 will have two variations and just as we said in our articles R520XT, Radeon X1800XT will be clocked at 625MHz core and 1500MHz memory and Radeon X1800XL clocked at 500MHz, 1000MHz. The card has sixteen pipelines or sixteen Shader cores - that's how ATI likes to call its pipes nowadays. The chip of sixteen pipelines has 321 million transistors.

ATI taped out its card back in November 2004 and it took it many re-spins to fix all that needed to be fixed. It had some transistor problem that took seven months to be fixed. The chap that fixed it got a nice big bonus, we understand.

Back in late August we learned that ATI will reveal the whole generation of cards in early October and that's exactly how it happened. ATI also revealed RV530, Radeon X1600 XT or PRO and its entry level RV515, Radeon X1300XT pro or Hypermemory.

Of all the cards it announced today, the Radeon X1800XL and X1300 will be available while it will ship X1800XT one month later in retail. Nvidia will insist that this is a paper launch and we can say that it's kind of right as not all of the products are available, still we saw them up and running so they exist and are just delayed.

alt='r520xt'

We had just enough time to plug Radeon X1800XT clocked at 625/1500 MHz to our test bed and compare it with Geforce 7800GTX clocked at 430MHz core and 1200MHz memory. We used ATI pre release drivers and Nvidia's 78.01 as Nvidia didn't want to send us its 81.84. Nvidia is not happy with the INQ as it implies that everyone that is not following its PR story tips has been brainwashed by ATI. NV30 all over again.

R520, Radeon X1800XT has a massive dual slot cooler and the air coming from it turns out to be the hottest that we ever experienced. Nevertheless, the card can be heavily overclocked and it turned to be very stable during all of our testing.

ATI used an Ipod-like very fancy looking white cooler and as we said it gets its job done. The card has internal 512 Mbit memory ring and features 512 MB of memory.

Test bed
We used Athlon 4800+ as the fastest CPU that we had in our hands and a DFI Lanparty Nforce 4 SLI motherboard powered with 1GB of Corsair CMX 3200XL Twinix memory. We also used Western Digital 160GB S-ATA hard drive.

We were running our usual test suite that we plan to update with couple of new games, but we just didn't have time to do it for this specific review. We were running Doom 3, Half Life 2, Far Cry, Counter Strike source, Unreal Tournament and the 3Dmarks and here is what we got.

DOOM 3
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200  
ATI RADEON 1800 XT 625/1500Hz
116.2
100.6
80.4
 
Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX 430/1200 MHz
114.9
106.9
91.7
 
   
Far Cry 1.3
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
 
ATI RADEON 1800 XT 625/1500Hz
74.94
77.33
76.29
 
Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX 430/1200 MHz
76.55
76.93
75.82
 
   
Half Life 2
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
 
ATI RADEON 1800 XT 625/1500Hz
50.84
53.59
52.56
 
Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX 430/1200 MHz
51.49
52.03
51.29
 
         
Counter-Strike Source
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
 
ATI RADEON 1800 XT 625/1500Hz
160.05
158.88
144.10
 
Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX 430/1200 MHz
161.90
156.32
146.77
 
         
Unreal Tournament 2004
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
 
ATI RADEON 1800 XT 625/1500Hz
182.78
174.22
182.20
 
Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX 430/1200 MHz
184.25
175.05
183.40
 
     
DOOM 3 FSAA 4X + Aniso 8X
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
ATI RADEON 1800 XT 625/1500Hz
82.6
58.3
41.7
Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX 430/1200 MHz
94.7
69.6
51.8
 
Half Life 2 FSAA 4X + Aniso 8X
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
ATI RADEON 1800 XT 625/1500Hz
52.82
53.40
52.12
Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX 430/1200 MHz
51.12
51.93
51.15
 
Counter-Str. S . FSAA 4X + Aniso 8X
1024x768
1280x1024
1600x1200
 
ATI RADEON 1800 XT 625/1500Hz
160.83
143.10
120.75
 
Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX 430/1200 MHz
162.23
141.16
124.38
 
         
Composite Figures 3Dmark03
3Dmark03
Game 2
Game 3
Nature
ATI RADEON 1800 XT 625/1500Hz
16648
138.9
102.8
106.1
Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX 430/1200 MHz
16066
130.7
108.4
92.3
         
Composite Figures 3Dmark03 Single Texturing Multi Textur. Vertex Shader Pixel sharer 2.0
  ATI RADEON 1800 XT 625/1500Hz
4279.8
9496.6
57.5
186.5
Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX 430/1200 MHz
4157.4
9986.8
45.2
342.2
         
Composite Figures 3Dmark05
3Dmark05
Game 1
Game 2
Game 3
ATI RADEON 1800 XT 625/1500Hz
8967
37.4
27.3
45.2
Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX 430/1200 MHz
7618
32.3
23.4
37.4
         
Composite Figures 3Dmark05 Single Texturing Multi Textur. Pixel Shader VS /VS complex
ATI RADEON 1800 XT 625/1500Hz
5063.8
10086.5
238.0
88.3/58.3
Nvidia GeForce 7800 GTX 430/1200 MHz
4887.3
10054.3
295.8
61.8/45.1

In Doom 3, Nvidia dominates as it of course designed its chip as MR. Carmack requested it. ATI wins by two frames at 1024x768 while it's losing as much as 10 FPS at 1600x1200.

The tables have turned in Far Cry 1.3 as Nvidia is two FPS faster in 10x7 while ATI is winning the higher resolution by less than one frame, oh dear. ATI is faster in Half Life 2 for a frame or even two but again in 10x7 Nvidia wins by a small margin, by less than a frame.

Counter strike Source test has mixed emotions but Nvidia managed to win 10x7 and 16x12 by a two frames while Radeon X1800XT is faster by two and a half frames at 12x10.

Unreal Tournament is completely on Nvidia's side, but it's again one or two FPS advantage only. When it comes to Doom 3 with 4X FSAA and 8X Aniso, Nvidia wins by a significant ten to twelve frames and this is by far the highest difference that we saw in the entire test. Half Life 2 with 4X FSAA and 8X Aniso is on ATI's side but again it's one of two frames of the difference.

Counter Strike source with 4X FSAA and 8X Aniso shows the same scenario seen before as ATI is faster, just, in 12x10 but again the difference is two to four FPS.

It's interesting to notice that the game had almost the same scores with FSAA and Aniso on and off and it would be a crime not to use those effects when you play.

When it comes to 3Dmark 03 Radeon X1800XT turns out to be faster but not by that much - it's faster in game 2, and again significantly faster in game 4 again in nature test while Nvidia wins the game 3 test by a few frames. ATI can perform just a little bit more single texturing but Nvidia can do a few more multi texturing stuff. Again ATI dominates Vertex shader while Nvidia is almost a twice faster in Pixel Shader test. We wonder why Nvidia wins Shader and loses the Vextex tests and vice versa.

Radeon X1800XT scores almost 9000 in our test bed and it's the fastest 3Dmark05 single score that we've ever seen. It beats Nvidia by a significant 1400 marks but this is just a test not a game. Still people like it, and especially Dell likes this tool. In every single game ATI ends up faster and it's significantly faster in very complex Nature test. When it comes to theoretical numbers you can clearly see that Nvidia and ATI are almost matching there and that explains such tight scores. Nvidia turns out to be significantly faster in Pixel Shader while ATI wins both Vertex Shader tests by a huge margin.

Conclusion
I promised both Nvidia and ATI that if ATI wins I will title the article "R520 Fudo kicks Nvidia's butt" or if Nvidia ends up faster I would write "Nvidia kicks R520 Fudo's butt". I could not use either, as in most of the tests the scores were tight. They were too tight that I just could not give the credit to any of the cards. X1800XT is a fast and a nice card and when it comes to gaming will provide you all that you need. But so will almost the identically performing Geforce 7800GTX. The only difference is that you can buy 7800 GTX now and you could get this kind of performance back in July, while it will take four more weeks to get a new Radeon X1800XT in your machine.

Radeon has 512MB of memory, but Nvidia is coming out with such a card and you can clearly see that 512MB doesn't make any kind of significant difference in all of the tests. As Nvidia likes to say, SLI is still faster than any X1800XT card but ATI's Crossfire is just around the corner.

You can overclock Nvidia but I suspect that X1800XT can go much higher to 700 MHz easily and we will let you know what happens when that takes place. Be aware that whatever you buy is a top notch card and will let you drive your games at sick resolutions and with every, I really mean every effect on.

R520, Radeon X1800XT is finally out but it's too close to Geforce 7800GTX to crown any of the cards as the performance king. X1800XT turns out to be faster in many cases, but do you really care that much about being one to two FPS faster? If you do, the Radeon X1800XT is the card for you but than again you will lose in Doom 3. Whichever you buy, you will be happy. µ

 

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