Power Consumption and Conclusions

Diamond Multimedia Viper HD 2900 XT 1GB GDDR4 Review - Graphics Cards 139

Diamond Multimedia Viper HD 2900 XT 1GB GDDR4 Review - Graphics Cards 140

Our power consumption numbers are interesting for two reasons: first the single card power consumption numbers show the Diamond Viper HD 2900 XT 1GB model uses only slightly more power for its 1GB GDDR4 memory.  But on the CrossFire tests, it would appear that the Diamond cards are much more power friendly; in reality I am almost sure that the reference cards we used have a firmware bug that keeps the second card from “spinning down” all the way in CrossFire mode.  That explains the 80+ watts differences at idle and probably the 30 watts under load. 


The new Diamond Multimedia Viper HD 2900 XT 1GB graphics cards definitely have the initial appeal to hardcore gamers by simply having the first 1GB consumer card on the market.  In general, more memory is always better, but how much better today, and how much better tomorrow?


For a large majority of our testing, the performance of the Diamond Viper HD 2900 XT 1GB was a bit of a letdown for two reasons.  First, this is still the same HD 2900 XT GPU that we saw from AMD back in May with the R600 launch and nothing has changed from our conclusions then.  The card still does pretty well in our current generation of DX9 gaming titles, though at the price point it doesn’t have a very big (if any) advantage over the competing NVIDIA GPUs.  Before I gave the HD 2900 XT and the 8800 GTS 640MB cards a virtual tie in performance, and the Diamond Viper versions lead us to the same conclusions.

Diamond Multimedia Viper HD 2900 XT 1GB GDDR4 Review - Graphics Cards 141

The second problem that Diamond faces with the 1GB model is that, in most of our tests, doubling the amount of memory to 1GB and moving to GDDR4 versus GDDR3 modules didn’t have a dramatic effect on performance.  Certainly it had much less impact than I had initially hoped to see.  There are still a couple games in our testing suite that did see SOME performance improvements such as Supreme Commander and Oblivion.  Performance gains were basically limited to single digit percentages though and as such probably won’t affect the real-world gaming experiences for the end user. 


The AMD HD 2900 XT GPU does have a decent amount of new features over the Radeon 1k series including custom filter anti-aliasing, tessellation logic, built-in CrossFire logic and the still impressive HDMI functionality.  The custom filters on the AA model haven’t been properly used yet, at least not that AMD has brought to my attention, so I hesitate to continue crowning it as such a fantastic feature as I did at the initial launch in May. 

By far the biggest advantage from a multimedia stand point that AMD and Diamond have right now is the integrated HDMI support on all the HD 2900 XT cards out there.  By implementing an audio codec and DVI-to-HDMI adaptors that support both audio and video, the Diamond Viper HD 2900 XT 1GB graphics card would perform admirably as either a gaming card or a video card for an HTPC; or both.

DX10 Gaming

Let’s be honest: at this point DX10 games are minimal and those that do exist are somewhat lacking in actual worthwhile differences from DX9.  Just take a look at HardOCP’s comparison of Lost Planet in DX9 and DX10 modes and you’ll see that performance sees a drop for image quality changes that are at best nearly impossible to see.

That being said, DX10 is going to be here soon and you’ll want a DX10 card for titles like Crysis, the much anticipated title from the makers of Far Cry.  Will DX10 titles be more apt to take advantage of the larger memory footprint that the Diamond Viper HD 2900 XT 1GB graphics card provides or will the lack of performance improvements we saw today carry on into the next generation of titles?  It’s really impossible for me to say for sure but I am willing to bet that as these games become more advanced the extra memory will be utilized much more.  So you COULD think of the 1GB card investment today as a way to prevent obsoletion of your gaming system as we go forward.  No guarantees of course, but only taxes and death meet that qualification anyway.

Pricing and Availability

This area is where Diamond Multimedia will find themselves in a pickle.  Yes the Diamond Viper HD 2900 XT 1GB graphics card does perform slightly better than the reference platform 512MB version.  It is also likely that the 1GB model will be better suited for the future of games on the PC later in the year.  But are those advantages worth the extra cost associated with moving up to this card?

Today, you can find Diamond’s own 512MB Viper HD 2900 XT graphics card for sale at about $400 at many online retailers including Newegg.com.  That is actually about as low as you’ll find any HD 2900 XT card for sale, with the best prices I could find coming in at only $10 less or so.  The Diamond Viper HD 2900 XT 1GB model is priced at $499 on the DiamondMM.com website and is available on back order at ZipZoomFly for $485.  The card is obviously much harder to find online than its half-sized compatriot.

So the question is, does the $90 price difference make sense?  That will depend a lot on your feelings about current performance, future looking technology and just plain being the coolest guy on the block.  Sure, having 1GB graphics card will get you SOME points with the guys at the local LAN, but will they also know that their 8800 GTS 640MB card can perform just as well?  Or that you could get an 8800 GTX card for just a Benjamin or so more?

Final Thoughts

Diamond is definitely putting themselves out on a limb by selling and promoting an AMD graphics product that AMD themselves decided not to launch.  By doing so Diamond is hoping to make a name for themselves as being the high-end enthusiast level partner for AMD’s products now and going forward but they might be biting off more than they can chew with this current offering.  The Diamond Viper HD 2900 XT 1GB graphics card would make a fantastic choice for any gamer looking to get the best technology for today and tomorrow but it is definitely not the only option. 

Please join us in this thread of our forums to discuss this review and new product!

« PreviousNext »