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Digital-Daily : Video : sapphire_x1800gto

Sapphire X1800GTO: remaking of

Sapphire X1800GTO: remaking of
Author: Dmitry Sofronov
Date: 26.04.2006

Sapphire X1800GTO

Announcement of ATI's X1800GTO that came to struggle in the mid-end pricing sector gave hopes that some manipulations would help make it into a product of a higher class - X1800XL. Such expectations were built on that originally X1800GTO is based on the same R520 chip and is produced through cutting down the number of pixel pipelines, most likely, at the software level. Therefore, there came the idea of reverse embodiment through activating the disabled pixel pipelines. And the hopes have finally proved correct! We indeed were able to make a X1800XL out of Sapphire X1800GTO.

I am not going to weary you, dear readers, by the details of how we did that and will right now disclose a little secret. All has turned out pretty simple and funny. To make Sapphire X1800GTO into a X1800XL, we took the BIOS of ASUS X1800XL and reflashed it into Sapphire X1800GTO using the GVF17.EXE utility that is shipped with video cards by Gigabyte. Some manufacturing international community. Once the BIOS update was complete, RivaTuner gladly reported that it had detected 16 pixel pipelines instead of 12, as it should be in X1800GTO. And the performance of course went up.

We'll be talking about the performance while testing the video cards, but for now let's take a closer look at Sapphire X1800GTO since X1800GTO anyway makes some difference from X1800XL. Those who wish to make such a re-make and save some amount will certainly notice the marking of the board and the P/N. Perhaps that is where the secret of successful enablement of missing pipelines is. OK, off we go.


Sapphire X1800GTO

Sapphire X1800GTO

The view of the photos is somehow unusual, but there is an explanation of that. The box is covered with a silvery film of high reflection power. So, while turning the box with Sapphire X1800GTO inside don't be scared of the blurry image of a humanoid - it may turn out merely a reflection of your face :)

We decided not to bring in the photos of accessories the card comes bundled with - the kit is generally standard, so we simply list what is included:

  • User's Guide
  • 2 pcs DVI/D-SUB adapters
  • HDTV-out cable
  • S-Video cable
  • "Tulip" video cable
  • Additional power cable
  • VIVO cable to capture video over the S-Video or composite input
  • Drivers and utilities CD
  • PowerDVD 6 disk
  • PowerDirector 4 DE disk
  • DVD with four games - Tony Hawk Underground; Prince of Persia: Warrior Within; Brothers in Arm: Road to Hill 30; Richard Burns Rally.

Each of these games can be played in the demo mode, and two most favorite games can be updated to the full version - there are two activation keys included.


Sapphire X1800GTO

Externally, Sapphire X1800GTO makes no difference from the typical X1800XL. In fact, it uses the same PCB, cooler, etc. The sticker is of course proprietary by Sapphire.


Sapphire X1800GTO

Nor the reverse side of the PCB makes any difference from X1800XL. Reminding it that to view the images in detail (e.g., to find out the P/N), just click on the photo and an enlarged image will be displayed in a new window.


Sapphire X1800GTO

Even with the cooler removed, there aren't any visible differences from the reference PCB of X1800XL. That's understandable because they are fully identical.


Sapphire X1800GTO

Looking at the GPU. As you can see, it the same good old R520. The GPU clock speed in Sapphire X1800GTO is 500 MHz, like in X1800XL.


Sapphire X1800GTO

But the memory has proved somehow a surprise. The memory chips by Samsung installed on Sapphire X1800GTO offer 2 ns access time, that is, the nominal operating frequency is 1000 MHz DDR, which is an exact coincidence with that of X1800GTO. We remember that on X1800XL the nominal memory speed is also 1000 MHz DDR, but there were used chips of 1.4 ns access time. That is, the nominal frequency of chips was already 1400 MHz DDR, which offered a good overclocking margin. Perhaps it is the second most significant difference of X1800GTO from X1800XL (after the pipelines were disabled).

As we can see, X1800GTO video cards offer both a certain potential (in the part of enabling pixel pipelines) and some limitations. We will see how all that affects performance after tests through comparison versus X1800XL. As a video card built on X1800XL, we took one made by the largest manufacturer of video adapters - CP Technologies more known to us by the TUL and PowerColor trademarks.

PowerColor X1800XL


PowerColor X1800XL

Since PowerColor's X1800XL makes no difference from the standard X1800XL, we are not going to dwell too much at that but simply bring in some photos of the box…


PowerColor X1800XL

PowerColor X1800XL

… and briefly describe the package bundle (again - standard):

  • User's Guide
  • 2 pcs DVI/D-SUB adapters
  • HDTV-out cable
  • S-Video cable
  • "Tulip" video cable
  • Additional power cable
  • VIVO cable to capture video over the S-Video or composite input
  • Drivers and utilities CD
  • Two disks with the game Pacific Fighters

The exception is that PowerColor's X1800XL is bundled with the flight simulator Pacific Fighters.

Nor the operating frequencies of PowerColor X1800XL make any difference from the other X1800XL and amount to 500/1000 MHz for the GPU/memory, respectively. Nevertheless, we intentionally did not remove the radiator in order to make sure that PowerColor X1800XL uses memory chips of 1.4 ns access time and the nominal frequency 1400 MHz DDR. Which turned out as expected.

Well, let's move on to the benchmarking.

Content:

  • Sapphire X1800GTO and PowerColor X1800XL
  • Benchmarking. Final Words.




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