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ATI Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition

The gap was pretty wide running 3DMark05 – at 1,024 x 768 with no FSAA or AF the X850 produced a score of 6024 compared with 5172 on the X800. The gap wasn’t quite so wide at 1,600 x 1,200 where the X850 scored 3452, while the X800 managed 2939.

Of course a card like this is all about playing games, and firing up Doom3 showed that the X850 offers a welcome jump in frame rate. Taking a resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 with 4x FSAA and 8x AF as the sweet spot, the X850 produced a very respectable 54.5fps compared with 45.7fps on the X800. In fact, across the board there’s a noticeable performance increase with the X850 XT, with the exception of Far Cry, but the X800 XT card was tested using an older patch version.

But everyone knows that Half-Life 2 is the big game of the moment, and the game that everyone wants to play. If ever there was a game that deserved a hardware upgrade, it’s Half-Life 2, but thankfully Valve has produced an engine that looks great even on a modest PC configuration. The beauty of this design is that when you do let Half-Life 2 loose on some serious hardware, the results are stunning. If you’ve got a card like this, your only limitation for playing Half-Life 2 will be your monitor – even running at 1,600 x 1,200 with 4x AF and 4x FSAA you’re still getting 66fps!

So, is the Radeon X850 XT PE the fastest graphics card we’ve seen? Well, in the most case yes. In some of the tests the Gainward PowerPack! CoolFX Ultra/2600 TV-DVI-DVI edges ahead, but this is a highly tuned and overclocked card, complete with its own water cooling system. But as far as standard, air cooled “slap it in a slot and go” graphics solutions go, the Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition is the fastest graphics solution that (a lot of) money can buy. Let’s just hope that ATI can get enough units into the channel this time around.


The Radeon X850 XT PE does exactly what ATI wants it to – it raises the bar on 3D graphics performance once more, without the need to resort to dual cards or custom motherboards. OK, so there aren’t any new features on offer and the design takes a small step backwards with the dual slot form factor, but if you want the fastest graphics card around, without overclocking, this is it.

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