When we reviewed our reference X1950 XT-X we didn’t have a CrossFire master card so were unable to test its CrossFire performance. This time, however, we received both a master and a slave card so we combined our testing to compare the X1950 XT-X in CrossFire against the current leader, the nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX.
We used our standard selection of benchmarks in our reference Intel 975XBX “Bad Axe” motherboard, with an Intel X6800 Core 2 Duo. Coupled with 2GB of Corsair CMX1024-6400C4 running at 800MHz with latency settings of 4-4-4-12.
The ATI Radeon X1950 XT-X and GeForce 7950 GX2 benchmarks were taken straight from our X1950 XT-X review, where we used WHQL 6.8 Catalyst and WHQL 91.31 drivers for the X1950XT-X and GeForce 7950 GX2, respectively. Results for the 8800 GTX and 8800 GTS were taken from our 8800 GTS review, using the 96.94 drivers and 97.02 drivers. The Counter-Strike portion of the testing has changed recently, so only the two 8800 cards are comparable to today's tests in this benchmark.
We ran Call of Duty 2, Counter Strike: Source, Quake 4, Battlefield 2, Prey and 3DMark06. Bar 3DMark06, these all run using our in-house pre-recorded timedemos in the most intense sections of each game we could find. Each setting is run three times and the average is taken, for reproducible and accurate results. We ran each game test at 1,280 x 1,024, 1,600 x 1,200, 1,920 x 1,200 and 2,048 x 1,536 each at 0x FSAA with trilinear filtering, 2x FSAA with 4x AF and 4x FSAA with 8x AF.
The TOXICs outperformed the 8800 GTX by an average of 55 per cent in Call of Duty 2 and 18 per cent in Prey, which is much faster than I was expecting. Other results were more mixed but the TOXICs still held their own, even in Quake 4, which ATI cards have traditionally struggled with. What is particularly noticeable is how well CrossFire scaled, with the dual cards, in some cases showing close to 100 per cent improvement over a reference X1950 XT-X.
The X1950 XT-X is clearly a good performer and a pair of them leaves the 8800 GTX for dead. However, with Windows Vista just around the corner it is hard to recommend buying any card that doesn't support DirectX 10. Ultimately though, it’s the 8800 GTS that makes life difficult for these TOXICs – with DX10 support, a price tag £70 lighter than the TOXIC, and a fairly quiet cooler to boot.