REVIEW: ATI Radeon X1900 GT
For G5 Power Macs with PCIe slots
Originally posted November 11th, 2006 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Many owners of dual-core and quad-core G5 Power Macs have been frustrated with the lack of high end aftermarket graphics cards. I was hoping that Apple would offer the GeForce 7800 GT as a kit the same way they are doing the Radeon X1900 XT for the Mac Pro buyers. But that never materialized.
Thankfully, ATI has come to the rescue with their Radeon X1900 GT for G5. This card is for G5s with PCI Express (PCIe) slots. It comes with 256MB of GDDR3 video memory and two DVI ports, both of which support displays up to 2560x1600 (like the 30" Apple Cinema). We compared it to the other "consumer" graphics cards compatible with the dual-core G5 Power Mac as well as to two of the cards available for the Mac Pro. (We measured the core clock speed at 507MHz and core memory speed at 1206MHz.)
Mac Pro 3.0 = Apple Mac Pro 3GHz with the test cards in the 16 lane PCIe slot
Quad G5 2.5 = Apple Quad-Core G5/2.5GHz with test cards in the 16 lane PCIe slot
X1900X = Radeon X1900 XT PCIe GPU for Mac Pro only with 512MB GDDR3
G7300 = GeForce 7300 GT PCIe GPU for Mac Pro only with 256MB GDDR3
G7800 = GeForce 7800 GT PCIe GPU for G5 Power Mac only with 256MB GDDR3
X1900 = Radeon X1900 GT PCIe GPU for G5 Power Mac only with 256MB GDDR3
G6600 = GeForce 6600 PCIe GPU for G5 Power Mac only with 256MB GDDR
Quake 4 (1.3) Settings: High Quality, Widescreen, No Vsync, No Anti-Aliasing, all other advanced settings enabled including multi-processor mode.
Doom 3 (1.3a) Settings: High Quality, No Vsync, No Anti-Aliasing, all other advanced settings enabled.
Halo (UB) Settings: All parameters enabled and at highest quality except Lens Flare which we had at a low setting. No FSAA. Sound disabled.
UT2004 (build 3369.2) Settings: Using SantaDuck Toolpak, we ran the Inferno Flyby and Botmatch with Graphics Enabled, Sound Disabled, and Maximum Quality Settings.
The Radeon X1900 GT for G5 provides welcome relief from the dearth of graphics card upgrades for the dual-core PCIe based G5 Power Macs. Its performance is roughly on par with the GeForce 7800 GT that Apple offered as a CTO option on the dual-core G5 (and that we wish they had offered as an aftermarket kit).
If you are one of many buyers who were stuck with the GeForce 6600, you will love this card. However, don't expect it to perform on the level with the Radeon X1900 XT offered with the Mac Pro.
WHAT ABOUT THE QUADRO?
We didn't include the $1650 Quadro FX 4500 which Apple is promoting for "high-end scientific visualization." It would be overkill for most applications including games. Apple's own charts showed the X1900 XT has better specs in two out of three categories.
WHERE TO BUY THE ATI RADEON X1900 GT FOR G5
You can order it direct from ATI/AMD's online store for $349. You can trade in your old graphics card for a $50. Click here to get the "trade up" form.