ATI HD 2900 XT Graphics Card Review

Posted: Jun 18 2007, 12:00am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 10 2010, 9:10am CDT , in Computer Hardware


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ATI HD 2900 XT Graphics Card Review


Features & Specifications
The card we are looking at today is the ATI HD 2900 XT. This graphics card has 700 million transistors and is built on 80nm fab. Memory is 512MB of GDDR3 with a 512-bit, 8-channel interface. ATI uses 320 stream processing units and 128-bit floating point precision for all operations. The ATI HD 2900 XT is also fully DirectX 10 compliant and uses shader model 4.0. One notable feature with the ATI HD 2900 XT is that a DVI to HDMI adapter is included and the card has on-board sound card built-in allowing you to send both video and 5.1 audio via HDMI. The ATI HD 2900 XT is also HDCP compliant. This is merely a quick look at specs, for the full list check out the specs page of this review.

Test Machine
The computer I am using to test the ATI HD 2900 XT has the following system components:

  • CPU- Intel QX6700
  • Mainboard- XFX 680i
  • RAM- PNY XLR8 2GB PC2-9384
  • OS- Windows XP Pro SP2
  • Display- Dell 30” UltraSharp 3007WFP-HC

Benchmarks & Testing
To test the ATI HD 2900 XT I used the same test suite that I use for my NVIDIA card tests consisting of 3DMark06, FEAR, Quake 4, and Battlefield 2142.

The first test up for the ATI HD 2900 XT is with 3DMark06. I ran 3DMark06 at default settings in the application and default settings in the Catalyst control center. The 3DMark06 results are as follows:

  • Total 3DMarks- 11544
  • SM2.0- 4443
  • HDR/SM3.0- 5001
  • CPU- 4105
  • Return to Proxycon- 35.091
  • Firefly Forest- 38.938
  • Canyon Flight- 44.887
  • Deep Freeze- 55.130
  • CPU1- 1.359
  • CPU2- 1.984

To compare the PNY 8800 Ultra I reviewed last week scored 13100 3DMarks, the PNY 8800 GTS 320MB scored 9344 3DMarks, and the PNY 8800 GTX Overclocked scored 12639 3DMarks.

The next test up for the ATI HD 2900 XT is FEAR which I ran at 2560 x 1600, all settings on max, soft shadows on, 16x AF, and 4x AA. The FEAR in game test loop recorded the following information:

  • Min- 11
  • Avg- 35
  • Max- 70

The percentages show that 18% of the item frame rates were below 25fps, 55% of the time frame rates were 25 – 40 fps, and 27% of the time frame rates were above 40 fps.

Battlefield 2142
Next up was Battlefield 2142, which I ran at 2048 x 1536 with 4x AA and all settings on high. I used Fraps to record frame rates while playing a single player map called “Fall of Berlin.” Fraps recorded the following frame rate data:

  • Min- 28 fps
  • Avg- 45.820 fps
  • Max- 56 fps

Quake 4
The final test up for the ATI HD 2900 XT was with Quake 4, which I ran at 1920 x 1200, ultra settings, 16x AA and multi core on. I again used Fraps to record frame rate data from the beginning of a new single player map. Fraps recorded the following frame rate data:

  • min- 0
  • Avg- 42.089
  • Max- 63

I ran this test several times and came up with virtually the same results each time. Often when a new area loaded quake 4 would freeze for a few seconds while using the ATI HD 2900 XT. Once the area loaded, frame rates and game play were fine.

Final Thoughts
You can see from the tests here that the ATI HD 2900 XT has more performance than the stock clocked PNY NVIDIA 8800 GTS 320MB graphics card and gives up lots of performance to the overclocked 8800 GTX and 8800 Ultra graphics cards from NVIDIA. The addition of an on-board sound card may sway some buyers looking for a high-end card for a media center using HDMI. Overall, the ATI HD 2900 XT is a nice card that offers competition to the NVIDIA boards that are flooding the market.




  • Bundled with free games people would actually buy
  • HDMI carries sound and video


  • As the top-of-the-line card from ATI the HD 2900 XT can’t run with the fastest cards from NVIDIA

If you want the fastest card available, you will want to shop NVIDIA. However, if you want a good performing graphics card that utilizes HDMI for video and sound plus comes bundled with games you would actually want to play the ATI HD 2900 XT is the card for you. Good performance makes the ATI HD 2900 XT appealing to gamers shopping in the $400 price range.


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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/3" rel="author">Shane McGlaun</a>
Tech and Car expert Shane McGlaun (Google) reports about what's new in these two sectors. His extensive experience in testing cars, computer hardware and consumer electronics enable him to effectively qualify new products and trends. If you want us review your product, please contact Shane.
Shane can be contacted directly at




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