Nvidia cards have typically performed best on Doom 3, and that hasn't changed here, where the X850 achieved 68.7fps at 1,024x768 compared to 81.4fps for the 6800 Ultra. With scores this high, both cards deliver imminently playable frame rates, so only those of you prone to compare frame rates will notice the performance difference. We favor ATI due to its slightly faster performance in DirectX 9.0-based games, such as Far Cry and Half-Life 2, which are currently more prevalent than OpenGL-based games, such as Doom 3.
Gamers out to tweak every bit of performance possible from their cards will have a field day using ATI's Catalyst Control Center to configure the driver software. Not only can you get immediate feedback on how changing your settings will affect performance and image quality, you can also use the drivers' Overdrive feature to gain a few extra frames per second by overclocking the X850 XT Platinum Edition. As always with overclocking, we advise an incremental approach in the interest of preserving your hardware.
The ATI Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition comes with a pair of DVI ports, which allow for dual-screen LCD gaming. There's also an S-Video port for output to a TV or a DVD player. As you'd expect, DVD playback on the card looks stellar. General image quality on both LCD and VGA monitors (using a DVI-to-VGA adapter) impressed us with crisp, clear rendering.
Although ATI has said that its recommended price for the X850 XT Platinum Edition is $550, it's worth noting how exceedingly rare it is to find the card available for that price. ATI doesn't sell it directly, and retailers have hard time keeping it in stock. ATI blames the lack of supply on increased demand. Whatever the reason, the laws of the market have had a nasty effect on the card's price, so while you can find it for less, don't be surprised if you see it going for $600 and $700. We encourage you to shop around.