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In addition to the testing I also played for a while on the card in Quake 4 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted to get a more subjective sense of how it performed. 1,280 x 1,024 was indeed the resolution sweet spot. Image quality was excellent and appeared to me slightly sharper and brighter than the NVIDIA cards that were formerly in the system.
If you were wondering if the All-in-Wonder X1900 could be used in CrossFire configuration in order to improve performance then you’ll be disappointed to learn that it’s not possible as both the AIW and the CrossFire master card both want to be the primary video card, and the squabbling means that they just won’t talk to each other.
The other path to take is overclocking. We found that we could boost the core quite considerably from 500MHz up to 575MHz but the memory would barely budge before the system crashed. This was disappointing as bigger overclocking gains are obtained from faster memory. As such, we only saw increases of a few frames per second despite the huge hike in core clock speed. That said, Half Life 2 at 1,600 x 1,200 did go from 61.0 to 67.3fps.
The All-in-Wonder then is, as ever an impressive beast, but I must admit that I increasingly struggle to see the point of it. For a media centre system a dual TV tuner would be far more preferable and DVB cards are now widely available. Many also offer analogue inputs, which used to be a major selling point of the All-in-Wonder. ATI does include both Adobe Premier Elements 2.0 and Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0, which is a great software bundle, but that doesn’t change the fact the these days video content will be imported via DV.
MMC is also rather unfriendly and I’d rather use Windows Media Center. Also, though there is an attraction to having TV and powerful gaming in one it could be hamstrung by the sheer length of the card. And if you want a dedicated media system, wouldn’t a fan-less and therefore totally silent card be preferable.
This all means that the All-in-Wonder is something of an oddity. Perhaps its biggest selling point is the fact that it’s good value and likely to be the cheapest way of entering the world of X1900 graphics. But I’d still rather have a regular X1900 XT and a couple of DVB cards.
This card is everything you’d expect to see from an All-in-Wonder but in the age of DV camcorders and Microsoft’s Windows Media Center it’s hard to see it as anything else but a niche product.
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