This is the very first benchs for the new ATI line of video cards. Not even developed for retail sales as yet and no drivers specifically for this card. Don't place these benchs in your mind as gospel, because they are just first of many to come. The Radeon X1800 XT will ship with a $599 price tag, which is $100 to $150 more than what GeForce 7800GTX graphics cards are currently sold at, not exactly cheap. Other models in the Radeon X1800 series include the X1800 XL clocked at 550MHz core clock and 625MHz memory clock respectively at $499, the X1800 Pro at 500MHz with 256MB of memory running at 500MHz with a $449 price tag and to close the ranks ATI will offer a X1800 LE at 450MHz/450MHz for $349 with just 12-pipelines and 256MB of memory. With the help of a board partner we’ve been able to run the same set of benchmarks we’ve previously run on NVIDIA’s GeForce 7800GT and GTX, although we could only submit our benchmark scripts and testing configuration to them. The numbers you see reflected in the next few pages are therefore provided AS IS, as we have no way to verify them as we don’t physically have a board, they are accurate as far as we can see and in line what we’ve been expecting. So without further ado, let’s take a look at what the R520 architecture is capable of. Our conclusion is a mixed bag really. The benchmarks were run on release candidate drivers for the Radeon X1800 Pro and XT, hence performance is not likely to change much before launch. On the other hand ATI has been able to wring extra performance from their drivers in the past, so we’d expect them to be able to pull that off here as well. Overall it looks like the Radeon X1800 XT is good match for the GeForce 7800GTX, although in most games the GTX clearly takes the lead. The Radeon X1800 Pro is slightly slower than the GeForce 7800 GT, although not by much. Considering the fact that we’ve used a top-of-the-line AMD Athlon FX57 processor, with 1GB of OCZ DDR400 memory on the popular Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard your mileage may vary, we honestly don’t know how these cards will do in a lower spec-ed system. With more pipelines, 24 vs. 16, the GeForce 7800 GT and GTX should have the advantage here. Overall ATI has managed to finally bring the R520 architecture to market, although over 6-months late. If they had launched it earlier they’d have taken the market by storm, much like the GeForce 7800GTX did at launch. However it will now be a tough sell, the MSRP is around $599 for the Radeon X1800 XT, which is up to $150 more expensive than the GeForce 7800GTX which is faster overall. Same applies to the Radeon X1800 Pro, which will retail at $449, you can buy a GeForce 7800GTX for that amount of money, which honestly hands the Radeon X1800 Pro its own behind. For now it is clear that ATI has managed to launch a new line of graphics cards that keeps pace with NVIDIA’s, kudos to them for staying competitive. In order for ATI to really compete with NVIDIA they’ll need to match their price tags and be able to ship in volume at launch. Unfortunately history has taught us that previous top-of-the-line ATI graphics cards were available as PE, press edition, only, with virtually no retail availability until months after the launch. We hope that ATI has learned a trick or two from NVIDIA that had immediate availability when they launched the GeForce 7800GT and GTX. Next stop for ATI is CrossFire, it’ll be interesting to see what two of these new Radeons are capable of when run side by side. Let’s hope for them they’ll be able to secure a decisive victory over NVIDIA, else I’ll be simply repeating myself when we cover CrossFire in detail. Sander Sassen.