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Digital-Daily : Video : R481

ATI Radeon X850XT Platinum Edition AGP (R481)

Author: Anna Timofeeva
Date: 10.05.2005

The past year 2004 was memorable not only for the vast changes in the graphic industry related to the release of new chips, transition to the PCI-Express and other important events. We also remember the year 2004 for its unprecedented shortage for top-end solutions, which is still felt even today. The first six months after the announcements was something really dreadful. Needless to say, such a shortage gave rise to absolutely inadequate prices. From the sellers' viewpoint, all is right and logical - they buy it all anyway, even queue for it. Why should we waste time on trifles?

Then in the AGP sector there occurred some calm - manufacturers threw out all their hidden reserves onto the young and dynamic market of PCI-E solutions. An awful lot of new chips was produced, and a flood of new cards on their base. LE, GT, XT, PE, TC, HM, etc.- you never make head or tails of that. Meanwhile, all was still the same in the AGP high-end sector - 6800Ultra/GT and RX800XT(PE)/PRO.

All remember it quite well how the situation with these cards was going on then, and the approximate performance ration has been known to everyone as two by two. So we are not dwelling on that - we are in for a very interesting introduction to a new product of the AGP market presented by ATI Technologies - Radeon X850 XT PE based on R481.

Last month, ATI finally recalled the AGP sector of the market of graphic accelerators and released a few new solutions.

These are first of all RX800XL and RX800 equipped with the transition bridge RIALTO which is in charge of support for the AGP interface. In one of our previous reviews we already explored the performance of RX800XL AGP, so we'll return to the topic several times in what follows.

Also, RX700 boards are coming up which are meant to bring in a revolution into the mainstream sector. We haven't yet held any of the card specimens on hands, so there is nothing certain we can tell regarding that - waiting for engineering samples and would be glad to share the benchmarking results with you.

The third novelty of the AGP sector is R481-based Radeon X850XT PE. The card is fundamentally different from its recently announced congeners for the native support of AGP interface. In all the remaining aspects, it is the same R480 chip made in the 0.13 process technology with the low-k. The PCB design has remained the same, in particular, the "two-tiered" cooling system and a list of supported technologies. That is, we have essentially got another direct heir to R420 which first transformed to R423 (with the native support for PCI-E), then to R480 (which is an optimized chip R423 + a new design of the cooling system), and now, having acquired the native support for AGP, has turned into R481. It's all simple.

There comes up quite a reasonable question - what was the use of releasing a new chip if it could have been done the way it was in the mainstream - through a mere addition of the RIALTO bridge? Most likely, that was caused by the reluctance to complicate the wiring, or probably by that it would be better to use a ready-made R420 interface unit. Perhaps, all these reasons altogether plus the marketing considerations. Somehow or other - we have got a new high-end solution.

The standard operating frequencies of RX850XT (in the Platinum Edition version) are 540/1180MHz, that is - the same as in RX850XT PE based on R480. The recommended (!) price hasn't changed either - $549. Again, this figure shouldn't be taken seriously - it may be priced at a whatever level, especially for the first time.

Note also that there is the RX850XT non PE version on the base of R481. The difference as usual is in the frequencies downstated relative to Platinum Edition, so the recommended price is also lower and is set at $499.

As regards the RX800XT(PE)/PRO based on R420, they will be gradually expelled from the retail stores by R481 and R430. That is, the high-end sector will be completely reconstructed. That is logical - keeping both R420 Series and R481/430 Series for AGP would be quite costly and non-reasonable. Of course, that won't happen in a fortnight, and we'll still be seeing X800XT (PE)/PRO for quite a long time. By the way, RX800XT PE AGP can be currently made available at about $500+ (depending on the manufacturer and sales outputs). The price for the competitor product - GeForce 6800Ultra -falls within the same limits. It's no use here setting exact figures - offerings at $515 and $600+ can be found. The price is in strong dependence on the manufacturer.

Participants of our benchmarking session are both GeForce 6800Ultra (including the one overclocked to the frequencies of 6800Ultra Extreme - 450/1100MHz) and the previous "king of the hill" by ATI - Radeon X800XT PE (R420).


  • Introduction
  • ATI RX850XT PE
  • Benchmarking
  • Final Words

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