AMD has taken the wraps off its first family of ATI-branded GPUs, but advance reviews have been underwhelming.
The IDG's US-based PC World test lab was sent a preproduction sample of the new Radeon HD 2900 XT, part of the new and long-awaited HD 2000 range, but mostly found it lagging behind existing offerings from nVidia in real-world testing.
While the vendor has thumped its chest about the series, highlighting its Unified Shader Architecture, 512MB memory bus and support for Microsoft's DirectX 10, IDG's tests have revealed the 2900 XT to be comparable to the existing and less expensive GeForce 8800 GTS from its arch-rival in most of the games it tested.
Results in Battlefield 2, Quake 4, and Far Cry showed the 2900 XT and the 8800 GTS running neck and neck, though the 2900 XT did manage to pull ahead in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory with 51 frames per second (FPS) versus 45 FPS from the 8800 GTS.
With Half-Life 2 bumped up to 1600x1200 resolution with anti-aliasing active, however, one significant result appeared: The Radeon turned in just 91 FPS compared with 116 for the GeForce 8800 GTS and 124 for a GeForce 8800 GTX.
AMD A/NZ technical manager, Michael Apthorpe, said that test results would start to fall in the vendor's favour with updated benchmark testing and games that took advantage of DirectX 10 in the months ahead.
"We've got DirectX 10 games with some reviewers for testing and they've been very impressed with the 2900," he said. "We've also found our own benchmarking against competitors cards to be competitive. The benchmarks being used out there are old and don't take into account the advances of DirectX 10 or the shader architecture in the range."
While resellers only have the chance to by the 2900 XT from the usual suppliers of graphics card, 2400 and 2600 models would be forthcoming in June, Apthorpe said. The notebook range also adds a 2300 model.
Test results certainly haven't hurt the card. Notebook makers in particular are lining up to get the HD 2000 series of cards into their machines. Acer, Asus, HP and Toshiba are among the vendors already preparing machines.
Local box builders contacted by ARN had not had enough time to evaluate the card to comment on IDG's test findings.