Sapphire Radeon X1900 XTX

Sapphire Radeon X1900 XTX

Sapphire_X1900XTX.jpgOur previous-generation test beds were based on nVidia’s nForce4 chipset, because we needed to test SLI configurations. It could be argued that this situation gave nVidia an edge—it was always an away game for ATI—but it didn’t stop the Canadians from pulling out a few wins. But now that ATI has its own dual-card solution in CrossFire, we’ll test all ATI-powered videocards in Asus’ A8R32-MVP Deluxe motherboard, which is powered by ATI’s own CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset.

So how does Sapphire’s Radeon X1900 XTX stack up? The answer depends on which of a videocard’s several missions you value the most. We’ve praised ATI’s Avivo technology before, and we’ll do it again: Video looks fantastic on Sapphire’s X1900 XTX—much better than it does on XFX’s GeForce 7900 GTX. Avivo renders games more attractive, too: Colors are brighter, richer, more saturated.

But we cannot live on color alone, and that’s Sapphire’s biggest problem: Its X1900 XTX gets clobbered by XFX’s entry in almost every gaming benchmark, with one exception: in CrossFire mode, Sapphire’s card delivered a Quake 4 Ultra Quality score 15 percent faster than XFX’s. An impressive margin to be sure, but it’s only one benchmark. Because ATI won’t allow third parties to overclock its cards, the ultimate performance of the Sapphire card is going to be exactly the same as the stock ATI card.

Month Reviewed: June 2006

+ '80s MUSIC: Rich, vibrant video and graphics. Fab Quake 4 performance in CrossFire mode.

- '80s HAIR: Gets beat up in nearly every other benchmark. Noisy cooling fan.

VERDICT: 8

URL: www.sapphiretech.com

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