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Digital-Daily : Video : powercolor-x800gt

PowerColor X800GT

Author: Anna Timofeeva
Date: 11.08.2005

It is not a secret to anyone that since the last year's announcement of GeForce 6600GT NVIDIA has won almost undisputable leadership in the mainstream sector of PCI-E and - a bit later - AGP 8 solutions. ATI's attempts to change the situation somehow can't be called successful - the originally abortive RX700XT solution did not appear in the retail in the end. The yield rate of chips suitable for running at the declared frequency was too small, and in the end the whole strike in defending the "near $200" sector was taken by X700 PRO video cards. However, these measures proved insufficient to leave GeForce 6600GT behind. Along with the higher performance, the Californian competitor offered more advantageous price rather than the 256 MB modification of RX700 PRO.

As regards the 128Mb version (produced under the codename RX700 (LE)), the gap has proved even more essential, but it positioned lower especially these days when manufacturers have started producing RX700 (LE) boards equipped with TSOP memory, which resulted in the reduction of the nominal frequency to 500MHz DDR.

Certain hopes were built on the release of RX800, whose MSRP was originally $199, however reality showed that the recommended price is somehow different from the real, and GeForce 6600GT have also turned cheaper - at the announcement the recommended price for these cards amounted to the same $199. In particular, today even the 128Mb version of RX800 surpasses GeForce 6600GT by about $50. Therefore, there was needed a competitive product which at a similar or close price would be able providing weighty performance advantages. In the end, a way out was found.

By the end of the last year, ATI made a qualitative renewal to the product line of PCI-E high-end solutions. In particular, as a replacement to boards on the base of R423 (RX800XT (PE)) there became solutions based on the R480 chip which differed from the predecessor in only a few optimizations (in particular, by higher yield for chips that ran securely at the declared frequency) and in some overstatement of the clock speed. Nevertheless, video cards on its base acquired the new commercial codename RX850XT (PE). But stocks of R423 chips haven't gone anywhere, and the company found an excellent use for them.

On 9 August, ATI presented a new solution for the mainstream sector of PCI-E video cards - the RX800GT.

PowerColor X800GT

Despite the original rumors saying that the cards would be based on the R430 chip (0.11 mk process technology), in the end just stocks of R423 and R480 went into these board. On the eve of announcement of ATI's new-generation chip - R520 - and its lower-end modifications, such a move looks logical enough.

At the same time, the originally suggested clock speeds of the graphic processor was increased to 475MHz, which would have been an insurmountable threshold for the 0.11 mk chip without using the low-k - the R430. But for the R423/R480, such frequency is just OK, even with some margin, because boards built on RX8x0 XT (let alone ) were running originally at a much higher frequency.

Therefore, the chip potentially offers 16(!) pixel pipelines. Only 8 of them are activated, and that does not rule out their unlocking (or at least part of them). In what follows, we'll verify these assumptions in practice.

The possibility of partial unlocking of pipelines is seen from the fact that according to some proven sources part of the manufacturers already intend to present X800GT video cards with as many as 12 pixel pipelines already unlocked. Clearly, it is the overclocker's dream that all the 16 pipelines be activated (on the mainstream card, such a turn would have been simply fantastic).

Another weighty advantage of X800GT - the exchange bus of 256-Bit memory. Since GeForce 6600GT offers merely a 128-Bit bus, potentially it is a big advantage which should reveal itself at high resolutions. As regards the video memory capacity, there will be both 256 Mb and 128 Mb versions. At the same time, boards will be equipped with both GDDR3 (mostly, 256 MB modifications) and DDR1 (cheaper models).

As to the manufacturers, ATI's website mentions four of them which were given an official say-so to release their own X800GT video cards. Among them are Sapphire, TUL (PowerColor), HIS, and GeCube. Today, we are reviewing one of the most powerful versions of X800GT - one equipped with 256Mb GDDR3 video memory, made by PowerColor.


  • Introduction
  • PowerColor X800GT
  • Overclocking and benchmarking
  • Performance analysis and conclusions

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