Product: Radeon X1950 XTX, X1950 Crossfire, X1900 XT 256MB
Company: ATI Technologies
Authour: Mark "Ratchet" Thorne
Date: September 9th, 2006

Radeon X1950 XTX and X1950 Crossfire Edition
Radeon X1950 XTX and X1950 Crossfire Edition
Radeon X1900 XTX and X1950 XTX
Radeon X1900 XTX and X1950 XTX
Radeon X1900 XT 256MB
Radeon X1900 XT 256MB
A couple of weeks ago ATI lifted the cover on the X1950 family of graphics cards. Specifically, covers were lifted on two new SKUs; the X1950 XTX and the X1950 Crossfire Edition. The differences between them are found in the compositing engine found on the Crossfire card, required to enable ATI’s multi-GPU Crossfire technology.

Both the XTX and the Crossfire Edition are virtually identical in their outward appearance, specs, and performance characteristics, but what will be surprising to many is that the XTX and Crossfire cards are being introduced at exact same relatively affordable $449 price point, making the decision on whether or not to get a Crossfire card come down to simple availability. It’s a bit surprising to have the prices confirmed thus, taking into account the extra hardware and whatnot that’s needed for the Crossfire cards, but if you want to sell Crossfire (which includes Crossfire motherboards, of course), making the decision to upgrade to a Crossfire graphics card a no-brainer is certainly one way to do it. If you can find one, you might as well get the Crossfire card.

Powering these two new SKUs is a new graphics core from ATI known to most as the R580+. Very much like the R580 before it, the “plus” brings in a few tweaks to the memory controller which lets ATI be the first on the block with a graphics card that feature high-speed GDDR4 memory modules. That, and a new, more efficient and much quieter cooler, are what the new X1950s are all about.

While the new X1950s shouldn’t be of much concern to those of you already enjoying your R580 based X1900s, they do offer some very welcome improvements to the cooler and a glimpse into the near future of high-end graphics cards.

Hitching a ride on the X1950 announcement were three other SKUs. First is the X1900 XT 256MB, a very attractive $279 mid-range card with high-end specs designed to compete with NVIDIA’s 7900 GT. We’ve included the X1900 XT 256MB in today’s performance charts, but unfortunately couldn’t get our hands on a 7900 GT for comparison. Second is the X1650 Pro, a new card which should outpace the X1600 XT but at a much more reasonable $99 price-point. Finally, the X1300 XT, which comes in at $89 and is, in reality, a re-branded X1600 Pro. While we won’t feature the X1650 Pro and the X1300 XT in this article, we will run them through their paces in the near future.

With the new cards ATI will start phasing out the older cards and start simplifying their top-to-bottom lineup, something which should be happily greeted by many folks. Once all is said and done it should look something like this:

ATI's New Lineup?
Enthusiast X1950 XTX $449
X1900 XT 256MB $279
Performance X1900 GT $249
Mainstream X1650 Pro $99
X1300 XTX $89
Value X1300 Pro $79
X1300 256MB $59
X1300 64-bit $49

You’ll notice a gap between the $99 X1650 Pro and the $249 X1900 GT. This will probably be filled by the X1650 XT and the X1950 Pro. By all the rumours floating around these cards should be announced sometime this month or next.

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