The gap was pretty wide running 3DMark05 â€“ 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 wasnâ€™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 thereâ€™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, itâ€™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 youâ€™ve got a card like this, your only limitation for playing Half-Life 2 will be your monitor â€“ even running at 1,600 x 1,200 with 4x AF and 4x FSAA youâ€™re still getting 66fps!
So, is the Radeon X850 XT PE the fastest graphics card weâ€™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 â€œslap it in a slot and goâ€ graphics solutions go, the Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition is the fastest graphics solution that (a lot of) money can buy. Letâ€™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 â€“ it raises the bar on 3D graphics performance once more, without the need to resort to dual cards or custom motherboards. OK, so there arenâ€™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.