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jmke 18th May 2006 17:21

Sapphire Radeon X1900 GT
Last week ATI “officially” unveiled their Radeon X1900 GT GPU to the public. We put the word officially in quotes because the X1900 GT actually hit some retailers shelves before ATI’s official announcement last Monday; some eyewitness reports spotted it on Best Buy’s shelves a week earlier, with Built By ATI Radeon X1900 GT 256MB cards selling for around $350. With ATI successfully hard launching the Radeon X1900 XT/XTX, their Xpress 3200 chipset, and now the Radeon X1900 GT all this year, it appears ATI’s taken the criticism towards availability to heart. These new products couldn’t have come at a more critical time for ATI, as NVIDIA certainly isn’t letting up either.

As its name implies, the Radeon X1900 GT is meant to take on NVIDIA’s current GeForce 7900 GT GPU, which has become an extremely popular seller in the short time it has been out on the market. The GeForce 7900 GT has proven popular with enthusiasts due to its excellent price/performance ratio; unlike the GeForce 7800 GT, which had some of its pixel and vertex shaders reduced, the GeForce 7900 GT runs with the full feature set found in NVIDIA’s flagship GeForce 7900 GTX, only it runs at slower clock speeds. Some enthusiasts have found the GeForce 7900 GT to be an excellent overclocker as well, pushing speeds well in excess of 600MHz, and of course it also doesn’t hurt that the GeForce 7900 GT fits in a single-slot package and generates very little heat.

Up to this point, ATI’s strategy to compete with the GeForce 7900 GT has relied on their board partners usage of the Radeon X1800 XT family to compete with the GeForce 7900 GT. Radeon X1800 XT 256MB cards can be found in the $240-$290 range, while X1800 XT 512MB boards sell for between $290-$350. These X1800 cards have served ATI’s board partners well for the most part, delivering performance that’s very competitive with the GeForce 7900 GT, but ATI themselves have abandoned the X1800’s R520 graphics core in favor of the newer R580 core found in the Radeon X1900 family: ATI for instance doesn’t sell their own Built By ATI Radeon X1800 GTO or X1800 XT 256MB board. With the introduction of the Radeon X1900 GT, ATI finally has their own direct competitor to the GeForce 7900 GT, while ATI’s board partners gain access to yet another product to sell at the popular $300 price point.

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