ATI is back, big time. Diamond
Multimedia has made a splash with one of the hottest (literally)
videocard cores in the market. Its new Diamond Viper Radeon HD 2900XT 1GB
videocard is one incredibly fast solution, but when you're dealing with the
Radeon HD 2900XT, speed is a given. With a retail price of $520 CDN ($499 USD, £243 GBP) per
videocard, the Diamond Viper Radeon HD 2900XT 1GB is actually priced pretty
aggressively for a flagship graphics solution.
The Crossfire configuration as tested in the preceding
pages of this review would cost about $1040 CDN ($999 USD, £486 GBP) for the
To run the Diamond Viper Radeon HD 2900XT alone, or in a
Crossfire pair you'd better have a top of the line PC system. The absolute most
important component in such a PC is the power supply, because the Viper Radeon
HD 2900XT draws a lot of juice.
A moderately equipped system with one videocard can
expect to draw in the range of 350W at load. Add in a second videocard to run in
CrossFire and you've just increased the power requirements close to 600W! Looks
like there may actually be a real need for those 1kW power supplies after
all.... For an enthusiast PC with a couple of Western Digital Raptor HDDs,
flashy LED fans, cold cathode lights and whatever else, well, you've got
yourself a system that consumes an insane amount of power.
I think its time gamers started to openly challenge
videocard makers to tackle the spiraling power demands their high end products
demand. What do you think?
The Diamond Viper Radeon HD
2900XT 1GB videocard is based on the ATI/AMD reference design, no surprises
there. You'll notice that the Radeon HD 2900XT comes packing two power
connectors, a regular six pin PCI Express connector and an new eight pin
version. Both have to be connected in order for the videocard to function at
full speed. A selection of Crossfire compatible power supplies is listed on AMD's website; we're partial to the PC Power &
Cooling, Seasonic, and Antec brands if you need a place to start.
In terms of performance, a lone Diamond Viper Radeon HD
2900XT 1GB videocard is very quick. In most games the HD 2900XT is as fast as a
single nVIDIA GeForce 8800GTX. The Radeon HD 2900XT shines particularly in the
game titles Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, and FEAR. The DirectX 10 game Call of Juarez also sees very high framerates.
ATI/AMD seems to have a bit of a teething problem with
drivers, to enable CrossFire with the Radeon HD 2900XT you may need to download
a hotfix. You might also have to patch your system to enable CrossFire properly
for the DirectX 10 title Lost Planet. ATi was
pretty good with its Catalyst drivers, hopefully AMD will get these issues fixed
quickly if they haven't already been.
On the Crossfire front, two Diamond Viper Radeon HD
2900XT 1GB videocards are pretty darn fast. In the benchmarks PCSTATS conducted,
these two screaming red meanies posted framerates at the top of the pack.
Overclocking, particularly under Crossfire, gave real performance gains...
although the power draw this incurs may make you want to think twice lest your
room become a sauna. ;-)
If you have a platform that supports Crossfire, like the
Intel P35 or 975x Express, running one or two of the Viper Radeon HD 2900XT 1GB
videocards in your system offers a real alternative to nVidia's Geforce 8800GTX
graphics cards. No matter how you look at it, the future of DirectX 10 gaming
has gotten much brighter with the introduction of Diamond
Multimedia's Viper Radeon HD 2900XT 1GB videocards.
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