The Gamer Ultra X1900 XT's online configurator offers more choice than almost any other we've seen, starting with dozens of chassis models and colors. Our review unit came housed in an aluminum CoolerMaster Praetorian 730 case dubbed the ATI CrossFire Edition, which is done up in a glossy red-and-black finish and features airbrushed images of ATI's 3D heroine, Ruby, on both side panels. Behind the front door is a double-layer DVD recordable drive, a DVD-ROM drive, a 12-in-1 media card reader, and a blue-lit 120mm intake fan. And with two rear-mounted exhaust fans, a CPU fan, two power supply fans, and two fans cooling the graphics cards, the system tends to run a little loud, although it is far from deafening.
There is room for two more external 5.25-inch drives and one 3.5-inch drive, and three of the four hard drive bays are occupied. A pop-up panel on the top of the system reveals two USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port, and two audio jacks. Four additional USB 2.0 ports are mounted on the rear of the system, along with two gigabit Ethernet connections, an external SATA port, and audio jacks for the integrated 8-channel audio controller, including two SPDIF outputs. The system's two graphics cards occupy both of the PCI Express x16 expansion slots and also block the PCI Express x1 slot and one of three traditional PCI slots. A wireless Ethernet card (802.11g) uses one PCI slot, leaving only one free slot for future expansion. Cyberpower does a fine job of routing and organizing interior cables, eschewing the usual flat, gray IDE ribbon cables for the thick, rounded variety.
The Gamer Ultra X1900 XT is powered by AMD's dual-core Athlon 64 FX-60 processor running on an Asus A8R32-MVP Deluxe motherboard that uses ATI's RD580 chipset. Our test system came with 1GB of Corsair DDR (PC3200) memory and two 512MB ATI RADEON X1900 graphics cards--an X1900 XTX and an X1900 CrossFire Edition. As with most high-end systems, the Gamer Ultra X1900 XT features two 74GB Western Digital Raptors running at 10,000rpm configured to RAID 0. An additional 250GB drive (7,200rpm) provides ample storage for all of your media files. Powering all of the components is a 680-watt Thermaltake Purepower PSU, which provided enough juice during our tests for stable operation.
ATI's CrossFire graphics solution is the company's answer to Nvidia's SLI multi-GPU technology, and the X1900 series is ATI's latest offering. In order to take advantage of dual-card graphics, one of the X1900 cards must be a CrossFire Edition model, which contains a special digital output used to connect the two cards via an external dongle (SLI cards are connected internally using a bridge connector). The dongle system works well enough, but we think it just adds more cable clutter to the rear of the system.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|Half-Life 2 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF||Half-Life 2 1,024x768 4XAA 8XAF||Doom 3 1,600x1,200 4XAA 8XAF||Doom 3 1,024x768, 4XAA 8XAF|
In our 3D-gaming tests, performance results were mixed but predictable. The Gamer Ultra X1900 XT blew away the SLI-based competition on CNET Labs' Half-Life 2 tests, besting the Falcon Northwest Mach V (and its previous-generation GeForce 7800 GTX cards) by 15 percent, at 1,600x1,200, with its 125.9 frames per second (fps). The Gamer Ultra X1900 XT couldn't catch the Mach V, however, on our Doom 3 tests. Its score of 106.1fps on the low-resolution portion of the test was nearly 100 frames per second slower than the Falcon's score of 205.1fps. It's no secret that Half-Life 2, a DirectX game, is optimized for ATI's GPU; likewise, Nvidia had a hand in designing and optimizing Doom 3, an OpenGL game, for use with its graphics cards. The Gamer Ultra X1900 XT can also handle office and multimedia applications with ease, as evidenced by its impressive SysMark 2004 score of 284.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
|BAPCo SysMark 2004 rating||SysMark 2004 Internet-content-creation rating||SysMark 2004 office-productivity rating|
Games look sharp on the included 19-inch ViewSonic va1912wb wide-screen LCD, which features a 16:10 aspect ratio and a fast 8ms pixel-response rating. The monitor has a native resolution of 1,440x900 and features dual inputs (analog and digital) and built-in speakers. We didn't bother hooking up the speakers because our test system also included a Creative Labs Inspire P7800 speaker system, boasting 90 watts of power across eight speakers, including a booming 6.5-inch subwoofer that rattles your bones. The P7800 is ideal for small to midsize rooms but lacks the power to cover larger areas.