Gigabyte's GV-RX80256D X800 Turbo Silent Pipe Video Card - HotHardware

Gigabyte's GV-RX80256D X800 Turbo Silent Pipe Video Card

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GigaByte's GV-RX80256D Up Close
Closer Inspection

When we first laid eyes on the GV-RX80256D X800 Turbo Silent Pipe, we soon found this was not your typical Radeon X800.  Gigabyte did follow the standard reference design PCB, but added their trademark blue color scheme.  At the core of the card is ATI's R430 which is manufactured at .11 microns and sports 12 Pixel pipelines.  Like the reference design, the core is clocked at 400MHz, but Gigabyte changed things up with the memory, clocking the 256MB of GDDR3 at 988MHz DDR (494MHZ).  Typical X800's come with memory clocked at 700MHz DDR, whereas the GV-RX80256D X800 Turbo Silent Pipe runs closer to X800Pro/XL speeds which range from 900MHz to 1000MHz, respectively.  Gigabyte utilizes Samsung's K4J55323QF-GC20 modules which are rated for 1000MHz DDR at 2ns.  This leaves a little bit of headroom left for overclocking, but at this stage of the game our expectations will be modest.

  

Straddling the GV-RX80256D X800 Turbo is Gigabyte's Silent Pipe heat pipe.  This is a completely fan free kit that operates in total silence.  This is an excellent solution for user's who are striving for a quiet system, however, it does require special consideration.  The most important factor is air flow.  For best performance, your system must have good cooling.  In a free standing environment, such as our typical test bed set up, this card gets piping hot.  In fact, just running it in open space for five minutes resulted in the card being too hot to touch with bare hands.  Add this to a case with poor air flow and you will surely shorten the life of the card as well as adding excessive heat to the case in general.  However, once in place with proper cooling and unrestricted airflow, the card ran beautifully and the temperature of the heat pipe was significantly lower.  While we did not perform extensive temperature testing, we saw no increases in ambient case temperatures in our test box which was comprised of two 80mm intake fans on the front, one exhausting at the rear of the box as well as the PSU fan.  This gave a good exchange of airflow and kept the GV-RX80256D X800 within normal operating conditions.

  

The Silent Pipe itself is an interesting kit that fits rather loosely on the card.  What was most obvious was the lack of contact with regards to the memory chips.  This was actually by design and is not a major issue since the modules run cool to begin with.  All we found was spongy material on the rear side of the pipe to prevent it from contacting the solder points on the card itself.  The main focus is solid contact to the core of the card where the pipe wicks the heat to the backside to be cooled by the case's airflow.

Overall, we liked the design of the GV-RX80256D X800 for a totally silent video card solution.  As we said, as long as you have good airflow in your case, this is an good card for the job.  The only thing we are uncertain about at this point is the overclocking potential of the card.  A little later on we'll surely put this to the test and see if we sacrifice any extra performance by utilizing this unique heat pipe design.


Image Quality with GigaByte's GV-RX80256D
For the Fun of It

Before we get started with the benchmarking segment, we thought we would do a brief image comparison to show the type of image quality we can expect.  For this, we took three separate screen captures from The Chronicles of Riddick – Escape from Butcher Bay.

First, we took a snapshot with no Anti-aliasing or Anisotropic Filtering enabled.  Then we repeated the process with 4X AA and 8X Anisotropic Filtering enabled followed by 6X AA and 16X Anisotropic.    


No AA or Anisotropic Filtering

4x AA & 8x Anisotropic Filtering

6x AA & 16x Anisotropic Filtering

In all actuality, this game was great looking, even with no filtering turned on in the drivers.  Once we stepped up to 4X AA and 8X Aniso, we saw improvements in edges and the detail of the floor, however, when we maxed the settings, the improvements were not as drastic.  Overall, the image quality was very good.  Later on we'll get a better idea of just how well this game performed with the GV-RX80256D X800.

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