So whats all this about then - why the old games in the list? Well today im going to be comparing alot of ATI hardware, from older boards such as the 9700 and 9600XT to the new cutting edge PCIE X800XT and mid range X600XT mainly due to the fact ive been getting alot of emails from Driverheaven members asking if now is a good time to sell on their older hardware and invest in a new "X" series board, ive put together this article with real world game performance from a variety of resolutions and AA and AF settings ... but this isnt an article to just test the highest powered game engines because lets face it not everyone plays Farcry or Painkiller 24/7, some people have asked me if its worth getting a new X800XT to play their favourite games such as "Return to Castle Wolfenstein" and titles such as "Halo, Combat Evolved", some of us already know the answer to that to a certain extent but its good to put the facts on paper - just what games are going to be CPU limited? what hardware do we really need for example to run the Unreal2 engine effectively at 1600x1200? "Do I need a X800XT for my games or can I save money and pick up a PRO or even a X600XT?" All this and more will be hopefully answered today. Alot of these ATI boards we have introduced and reviewed individually before to a much greater extent so im not going to detail all the ins and outs again. You can check out our hardware index here for further information if a particular board tickles your fancy.

Ive spent the last two weeks and many sleepless nights between other articles running insane amounts of benchmarks to attempt to get a wide cross section of hardware performance on both AGP and PCI express platforms, and it also gives me a chance to introduce the X300 board because quite frankly it isnt exciting enough to devote to a whole review, and thats being kind to it.

from left: 9800XT, X800XTPE, X800XT PCIe
clockwise from top right: 9700, X600XT, X300, X800XT PCIe
clockwise from top left: 9800XT, 9700, X300, X800XT PE (bottom), X800XT PCIe
9700 (left) and X600XT
9700 rear shot
9700 and X600XT just outside shot
Oh nice n shiny: the 9800XTs distinctive copper heatsink
X800XT PCIe (top), and yeah you know the rest ;¬)
oh can I have one? X800XT PCIe
X300 - not the prettiest card, but in ATIs distinctive red
X300, rear shot, tiny eh?

The cards im playing with today are:
X800XT PE AGP 520/560
X800XT PE PCIe 520/560
X800XT PCIe 500/500
X800 PRO AGP 475/450
X600XT PCIe 500/365
X300 PCIe 325/195
9800XT AGP 412/365
9700 AGP 275/270
9600 XT 500/300

Test Setup:

For the purposes of the testing the systems were built from scratch, then a clean Windows XP Professional operating system installed, all updates were applied. All test results were ran four times during the course of this review to ensure no abnormalities could creep into the end figures.

AGP System:
Pentium 4 478 Extreme Edition 3.4ghz - courtesy of INTEL
Abit IC7 MAX3 motherboard
1 gig of Corsair DDR pc3200 Pro ram (SPD) - courtesy of CORSAIR
Western Digital Raptors 2x36 gig in raid 0
Globalwin Sapphire 520w 19db PSU
ATI X800XT PE - courtesy of ATI Technologies
special thanks as always to Chris Hook and Andrzej Bania
NEC 1300a DVD

PCIe System:
Pentium 4 775 Extreme Edition 3.4ghz - courtesy of INTEL
Intel D925XCV Motherboard - courtesy of INTEL
1 gig of Micron DDRII 533mhz ram - courtesy of INTEL and MICRON
ATI X800XT Pcie (R423) - courtesy of ATI Technologies
special thanks as always to Chris Hook and Andrzej Bania
OCZ Powerstream 470w PSU - courtesty of OCZtechnology
Samsung 7200 160 gig hard drive
Philips cd writer


CATALYST VERSION: 6451 (all games ran with high texture and mipmap quality)


Some pictures of the new Driverheaven PCIe rig

Id like to put out a special thank you to OCZ for supplying me the 470w model of their new and incredible Powerstream range of PSU's at such short notice. I have reviewed its smaller brother the 420w over here if you want to check out OCZs new power supplies.


Next: Halo