Our conclusion is a mixed bag really. The benchmarks were run on release candidate drivers for the Radeon X1800 Pro and XT, hence performance is not likely to change much before launch, but final clockspeeds have yet to be determined we've learned, hence it could go either way. On the other hand ATI has been able to wring extra performance from their drivers in the past, so we’d expect them to be able to pull that off here as well. Overall it looks like the Radeon X1800 XT is good match for the GeForce 7800GTX, although in most games the GTX clearly takes the lead. The Radeon X1800 Pro is slightly slower than the GeForce 7800 GT, although not by much. Considering the fact that we’ve used a top-of-the-line AMD Athlon FX57 processor, with 1GB of OCZ DDR400 memory on the popular Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard your mileage may vary, we honestly don’t know how these cards will do in a lower spec-ed system. With more pipelines, 24 vs. 16, the GeForce 7800 GT and GTX should have the advantage here.
Overall ATI has managed to finally bring the R520 architecture to market, although over 6-months late. If they had launched it earlier they’d have taken the market by storm, much like the GeForce 7800GTX did at launch. However it will now be a tough sell, the MSRP is around $599 for the Radeon X1800 XT, which is up to $150 more expensive than the GeForce 7800GTX which is faster overall. Same applies to the Radeon X1800 Pro, which will retail at $449, you can buy a GeForce 7800GTX for that amount of money, which honestly hands the Radeon X1800 Pro its own behind. For now it is clear that ATI has managed to launch a new line of graphics cards that keeps pace with NVIDIA’s, kudos to them for staying competitive.
In order for ATI to really compete with NVIDIA they’ll need to match their price tags and be able to ship in volume at launch. Unfortunately history has taught us that previous top-of-the-line ATI graphics cards were available as PE, press edition, only, with virtually no retail availability until months after the launch. We hope that ATI has learned a trick or two from NVIDIA that had immediate availability when they launched the GeForce 7800GT and GTX. Next stop for ATI is CrossFire, it’ll be interesting to see what two of these new Radeons are capable of when run side by side. Let’s hope for them they’ll be able to secure a decisive victory over NVIDIA, else I’ll be simply repeating myself when we cover CrossFire in detail.
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