A Closer Look at the AX800XL
The Asus Extreme AX800XL is based on an orange PCB, much like the ones Asus has used with most of their Radeon-based products. At first glance, the design doesn't appear to be a major shift away from what we saw with ATi's original X800 XL back in December; we've got a medium sized card with a single-slot cooling solution placed over the VPU and bare RAM chips on the back of the card. The RAM consisted of the same configuration of 1GHz Samsung GDDR3 that we've seen earlier with ATi's and Sapphire's products. Under more scrutiny, however, we came upon some customizations that Asus has added to differentiate their card. The first change we noticed was dual DVI ports, replacing the 15-pin VGA connection on the ATi built X800 XL.
The custom cooler that Asus utilizes has a slightly larger heatsink, which covers the front-side RAM a bit better than the reference model. This heatsink is constructed entirely of copper, and has a single heatpipe placed over the memory to help keep these temperatures in check. A 60mm plastic fan is embedded under a clear sheath surrounding the heatsink, which sucks in and blows cooler air over fins along the right side of the unit. It's odd that Asus has spent as much attention on the cooling of the front side memory, yet did not make any attempt at adding any cooling techniques for the rear side. We will see later on if this has any potential effects on overclocking the memory.
There are blue LEDs integrated into the custom cooler that add in some panache as well as serving as speed indicators. The lights shine brightest when the fan is running at full speed, but are almost unoticeable when the card is not being taxed and the fan is operating slower. Of course, this only helps when you've got a windowed chassis. Asus' AX800XL came equipped with ATi's Rage Theater which is used in conjunction with a provided VIVO break-out box for video recording and editing.