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ATI Graphics Buyer's Guide Spring 2006, Part 1

Conclusions

eVGA GeForce7800 GS AGP

This board makes an excellent upgrade for AGP systems, and its performance is more than adequate for current 3D games. However, we would recommend pairing the card with a CPU running at least 2.4 GHz. Owners of brawnier AMD systems are likely to get another 10 to 20 percent more performance out of this AGP card. Our review sample was one of eVGA's Superclocked models that run at higher default clock speeds.

Sapphire Radeon X1600 Pro AGP

This card is an inexpensive AGP upgrade for the ATI community. The board offers support for Pixel Shader 3.0 and HDR, and provides just enough performance for the current crop of complex 3D games. Owners of faster AMD systems will probably get an additional 10 to 20 percent more performance out of this AGP card. The full complement of cables that comes with the card also deserves praise.

Gainward Golden Sample BLISS 6800 GS PCX

Gainward's Golden Sample runs at higher default clock speeds out of the box. With its higher frequencies and its 512 MB of video memory, the 6800 GS replaces the 6800 Ultra or GT in NVIDIA's product line. It also comes with support for Pixel Shader 3 and HDR rendering. Performance-wise, the card comes in behind a Radeon X1800, which is nevertheless sufficient for current games.

Gecube Radeon X1900 XTX

This graphics chip is the fastest part on the market today, hands down. It is the ideal choice for games like Spellforce 2, F.E.A.R. or Oblivion, which make heavy use of shader effects. HDR rendering and anti-aliasing can be enabled together. The card's bundle is good, although the video-editing suite Power Director 2.5 is already several versions outdated - Gecube's competitors ship their cards with version 3 or 4. This card also offers enormous overclocking potential, and can be run at the highest possible settings.

HIS Radeon X1600 XT iTurbo IceQ

iTurbo does not have a huge impact on the card's clock speeds. Its overclocking feature is activated using the bundled iTurbo utility; pressing the iTurbo button results in a 1.5 percent performance increase. By comparison, the large and practically silent IceQ cooler brings a much more tangible benefit to the product. This cooling solution allows the HIS card to be both fast and quiet, making it the best X1600 XT card in the entire test line-up. It offers just enough performance for the current crop of complex 3D games.

HIS Radeon X1800 XT iTurbo

The iTurbo has a much greater impact on the X1800 XT, with GPU and memory running a good 100 MHz above the stock clock speeds. In the overall performance ranking, the X1800 XT places right behind the speedy X1900 XTX, but it packs less Pixel Shader power than its sibling. The software bundle is extensive, including a software DVD player, a video editing suite and a burning application.

Powercolor Radeon X1900 XTX

This graphics chip is the ideal choice for games like Spellforce 2, F.E.A.R. or Oblivion, which make heavy use of shader effects. HDR rendering and anti-aliasing can be enabled together, the card offers enormous overclocking potential, and it can be run at the highest possible settings.

Sapphire Radeon X1300

The smallest member of the Radeon family with support for Pixel Shader 3 and HDR rendering is not fast enough for modern games with complex 3D scenes. However, the passive cooling solution makes it a sound choice for a DVR or office PC. The full complement of cables that comes with the card is also noteworthy.