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ASUS EAX1900XTX (RADEON X1900 XTX) 512MB PCI-E
ASUS EAX1900XT CrossFire (RADEON X1900 XT CrossFire Edition) 512MB PCI-E
and CrossFire Based on ATI Xpress 3200 (RD580)

April 19, 2006








TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Introduction
  2. Video cards' features
  3. Testbed configuration, benchmarks
  4. Test results
  5. Conclusions



Our today's article is not usual. First of all, all experienced users know well that video cards of the RADEON X1900 XT/XTX level are manufactured on third-party plants, ordered by ATI. That's why any ATI partner has nothing to do with their manufacturing. All vendors, including ASUSTeK, buy ready cards from ATI and just sell them under their brands. That's why today we shall just review the ASUS bundle.

Secondly, we published an article about the new ATI RD580 chipset aka Xpress 3200 CrossFire not long ago. Preparing CrossFire tests on the new motherboard was our lab's responsibility. Even though the results were good, we had a lot of gripes with the quality and multiple artifacts, mentioned in this article.

It turned out that the problem was in the buggy BIOS of the motherboard. Having got the new version, we re-ran the tests to find out that the problem with artifacts was fixed. That's why taking advantage of availability of a master card X1900 XT CFE in our lab, we are going to publish final CF test results on RD580.

Let's examine the cards first - the main object of our review. We have tested two cards today: an X1900 XTX -based card and an X1900 XT -based card, the latter being CrossFire Edition.

Video Cards



ASUS EAX1900XTX (RADEON X1900 XTX) 512MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1900 XTX (R580)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 650 MHz (nominal — 650 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 775 (1550) MHz (nominal — 775 (1550) MHz)

Memory bus width: 256bit

Number of Shader Vertex Processors: 8

Number of Shader Pixel Processors: 48

Number of texture processors: 16

Number of ROPs: 16

Dimensions: 205x100x32mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

Output connectors: 2 x DVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: available (RAGE Theater)

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




ASUS EAX1900XT CrossFire (RADEON X1900 XT CrossFire Edition) 512MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1900 XT (R580)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 625 MHz (nominal — 625 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 725 (1450) MHz (nominal — 725 (1450) MHz)

Memory bus width: 256bit

Number of Shader Vertex Processors: 8

Number of Shader Pixel Processors: 48

Number of texture processors: 16

Number of ROPs: 16

Dimensions: 205x100x32mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

Output connectors: CrossFire-out, DVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.






ASUS EAX1900XTX (RADEON X1900 XTX) 512MB PCI-E
The video card has 512 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung (GDDR3) memory chips. 1.1ns memory access time, which corresponds to 900 (1800) MHz.




ASUS EAX1900XT CrossFire (RADEON X1900 XT CrossFire Edition) 512MB PCI-E
The video card has 512 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung (GDDR3) memory chips. 1.2ns memory access time, which corresponds to 800 (1900) MHz.






Comparison with the reference design, front view
ASUS EAX1900XTX (RADEON X1900 XTX) 512MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1900 XTX 512MB
ASUS EAX1900XT CrossFire (RADEON X1900 XT CrossFire Edition) 512MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1900 XTX 512MB


Comparison with the reference design, back view
ASUS EAX1900XTX (RADEON X1900 XTX) 512MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1900 XTX 512MB
ASUS EAX1900XT CrossFire (RADEON X1900 XT CrossFire Edition) 512MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1900 XTX 512MB


As I have already written, ASUS only stuck its labels on the cooler. Everything else is of the reference design. Considering the question constantly asked in forums "Which card is better - X1900 XTX from Sapphire, HIS etc?" I repeat that all X1900 XT/XTX/CFE cards are manufactured by ATI itself (that is they are manufactured by its orders on third-party plants), so they ARE ALL THE SAME!

The cards have TV-Out with a unique jack. You will need a special bundled adapter to output video to a TV-set via S-Video or RCA.

Analog monitors with d-Sub (VGA) interface are connected to DVI with special DVI-to-d-Sub adapters. Maximum resolutions and frequencies:

  • 240 Hz Max Refresh Rate
  • 2048 x 1536 x 32bit x85Hz Max - analog interface
  • 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz Max - digital interface

We can also see that the X1900 XT CFE is actually a regular X1900 XT, deprived of VIVO and even TV-out for the sake of CF. Just a bare video card without usual additions. Is it a disadvantage? I think it is not. If you plan on installing CF later, that is to buy the second video card after the first, the first card to be bought must be a regular X1900 XT with VIVO. Only then you should buy a CF Edition product.

The card is equipped with two jacks: the first is DVI (Dual-Link, of course), the second is a special CrossFire-out:




A special adapter-composer is plugged into it.




One of its ends goes to the second video card (DVI), the other is used to connect a monitor.

There is no point in describing the cooling system, I guess - it's a reference design, we have already written about it many times.

Bundle

ASUS EAX1900XTX (RADEON X1900 XTX) 512MB PCI-E
Traditional ASUS bundle. User's guide, CD with drivers, ASUSDVD, CD with a manual in many languages, a set of more interesting and newer games, including King-Kong, VIVO software; DVI-to-d-Sub, VIVO/HDTV adapters, external power adapter, stylish leather CD case.


ASUS EAX1900XT CrossFire (RADEON X1900 XT CrossFire Edition) 512MB PCI-E
The same bundle as in the previous case, plus a bonus of a gaming pad.




Packages.

ASUS EAX1900XTX (RADEON X1900 XTX) 512MB PCI-E

Traditional design with a warrior on the front side of a huge box with a handle. All components are arranged into sections inside, the card is secured in a foamed polyurethane box.




ASUS EAX1900XT CrossFire (RADEON X1900 XT CrossFire Edition) 512MB PCI-E

A similar box.






Installation and Drivers

Testbed configuration:

  • Athlon 64 (939Socket) based computer
    • CPU: AMD Athlon 64 4000+ (2400MHz) (L2=1024K)
    • Motherboard: ASUS A8N32 SLI Deluxe on NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16
    • for ATI CrossFire tests we used the ASUS A8R32-MVP motherboard on ATI RADEON Xpress 3200 CrossFire
    • RAM: 2 GB DDR SDRAM 400MHz (CAS (tCL)=2.5; RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)=3; Row Precharge (tRP)=3; tRAS=6)
    • HDD: WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA

  • Operating system: Windows XP SP2 DirectX 9.0c
  • Monitors: ViewSonic P810 (21") and Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070sb (21").
  • ATI CATALYST 6.2; NVIDIA drivers 81.98.

VSync is disabled.

Test results: performance comparison

We used the following test applications:

  • Splinter Cell Chaos of Theory v.1.04 (Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, maximum test settings, shaders 3.0 (for NVIDIA cards)/shaders 2.0 (for ATI cards); HDR OFF!

  • Half-Life2 (Valve/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, demo (ixbt01. The tests were carried out with maximum quality, option -dxlevel 90, presets for video card types are removed from dxsupport.cfg.

  • FarCry 1.33 (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, demo from the Research level (-DEVMODE startup option), Very High test settings.

  • DOOM III (id Software/Activision) — OpenGL, multitexturing, test settings — High Quality (ANIS8x), demo ixbt1 (33MB!). We have a sample batch file to start the game automatically with increased speed and reduced jerking (precaching) d3auto.rar. (DO NOT BE AFRAID of the black screen after the first menu, that's how it should be! It will last 5-10 seconds and then the demo should start)

  • 3DMark05 1.20 (FutureMark) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, test settings — trilinear,

  • 3DMark06 1.02 (FutureMark) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, test settings — trilinear,

  • The Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay 1.10 (Starbreeze/Vivendi) — OpenGL, multitexturing, maximum texture quality, Shader 2.0, demo 44.

    I wish to thank Rinat Dosayev (AKA 4uckall) and Alexei Ostrovski (AKA Ducche), who have created a demo for this game. I also want to thank Alexei Berillo AKA Somebody Else for his help.

  • F.E.A.R. v.1.02 (Multiplayer) (Monolith/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, maximum test settings, Soft shadows disabled.

  • Call Of Duty 2 DEMO (Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, test settings — maximum, shaders 2.0, tested in Benchemall, demo and a startup script, readme contains necessary instructions



Summary performance diagrams

I repeat that this article is devoted to analyzing not only X1900-cards, but also to CrossFire on RD580, so we also publish X1300 CF/X1600 CF test results. Here is the reason for using old drivers. I'll remind you that the article about RD580 was published on March 1st and all the tests below were carried out in late February. At that time the latest drivers were CATALYST 6.2 and ForceWare 81.98. Having updated BIOS, I re-ran our tests using the latest drivers, of course. But there were almost no differences in terms of CrossFire operation compared to the previously obtained results. That's why we publish complete information on February tests, which are still valid today. The difference is only in DISAPPEARED ARTIFACTS, mentioned in the article about RD580.

Game tests that heavily load vertex shaders, mixed pixel shaders 1.1 and 2.0, active multitexturing.

FarCry, Research



Test results: FarCry Research




Game tests that heavily load vertex shaders, pixel shaders 2.0, active multitexturing.

F.E.A.R.



Test results: F.E.A.R




Splinter Cell Chaos Theory



Test results: SCCT




Call Of Duty 2 DEMO



Test results: COD2




Half-Life2: ixbt01 demo



Test results: Half-Life2, ixbt01






Game tests that heavily load pixel pipelines with texturing, active operations of the stencil buffer and shader units

DOOM III High mode



Test results: DOOM III






Chronicles of Riddick, demo 44



Test results: Chronicles of Riddick, demo 44






Synthetic tests that heavily load shader units

3DMark05: MARKS



Test results: 3DMark05 MARKS




3DMark06: Shader 2.0 MARKS



Test results: 3DMark06 Shader 2.0 MARKS




3DMark06: Shader 3.0 MARKS



Test results: 3DMark06 Shader 3.0 MARKS






You can find our comments in the conclusions.


Conclusions

First of all we can see that CrossFire really works with Low-End cards, which do not require being connected with a special adapter or a master card. Performance gains are evident. We still have some questions - how many games? And how they are supported by this technology on the whole? Unfortunately, 95% of games do not have benchmarks, so we can evaluate CF operation only by eye. We can only trust ATI, who claims that CrossFire works in all games by default and that driver profiles only raise efficiency of this technology (competitors contend that CF won't work if there is no ATI driver profile for this or that game). I repeat that there are no problems with quality any more, the trouble was in the motherboard.

Now about ASUS products:

  1. ASUS EAX1900XTX (RADEON X1900 XTX) 512MB PCI-E is a standard X1900 XTX reference card. The bundle is very nice. I repeat to those users who seek after brands, all X1900 XTX cards are the same! They are all made on the same plant. So if anyone starts preaching that this card from Brand A is of higher quality than the card from Brand B, it's stuff and nonsense, nothing more!

    The card itself is of excellent quality, no gripes. Some users complain about occasional overheating, that's true. If you want to buy such a card, you should provide good ventilation inside your PC case. And forget your dreams about a quiet system unit with the fastest accelerator inside. This is possible only with the 7900 GTX, but its price is currently higher, so the X1900 XTX is at advantage now. Don't forget that the X1900 card offers anisotropy of a higher quality, as well as HDR+AA mode - these are its advantages. And theoretically, the problem with noise can be solved. The cooler keeps quiet under short-time loads and in well ventilated PC cases.

  2. ASUS EAX1900XT CrossFire (RADEON X1900 XT CrossFire Edition) 512MB PCI-E is a standard product. The bundle is even more interesting, the gaming pad is quite nice.

    Remember that the master card bears the XT suffix, not XTX. That is there is no such card as CrossFire Edition XTX. So even if you install the XTX card together with this model, the tandem will operate at XT frequencies anyway (625\1450 MHz).



You can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards in our 3Digest.








ASUS EAX1900XT CrossFire (RADEON X1900 XT CrossFire Edition) 512MB PCI-E gets the Excellent Package award (April).








Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards, which concern functional properties of the GPU ATI RADEON X800 (R420)/X850 (R480)/X700 (RV410) and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 (NV40/45)/6600 (NV43)



We express our thanks to
ASUSTeK Russia
for the provided video cards.



PSU for the testbed was kindly provided by HIPER









Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

April 19, 2006



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