X800 Overclocking & Our Conclusion
Of course, we just had to overclock these new Radeons, to see how much wiggle room was available to us, beyond stock core speeds.
We overclocked both new Radeon X800 boards with a beta and unreleased version of Entech's Powerstrip. Our efforts, yielded us a smallish 14MHz gain on the XT core, along with a small gain in the memory clock at 590MHz or 1.18GHz DDR. So, at this point, the X800 XT is pegged pretty tight to its stock speed, although as ATi's manufacturing process matures, more headroom may be available down the road. The Radeon X800 Pro however, as we expected, showed sizable headroom in both core clock and memory clock speeds. We realized a 45MHz upside in the core and an 150MHz gain (75MHz X2) in the memory speeds for the Radeon X800 Pro.
Impressive... That one word sums up ATi's new Radeon X800 XT and Radeon X800 Pro Graphics Cards. These new Radeons delivered on every marketing bullet ATi had in their slide-ware, and then some. We were witness to 2X the performance of ATi's current generation product, which was historically the watermark to which all others were measured. We were also witness to these new Radeons handing, NVIDIA's new equally as impressive GeForce 6800 Ultra a lesson in performance in leading edge game engines like Far Cry, Splinter Cell, and Halo. At first glance, after running the GeForce 6800 Ultra through its paces, we weren't confident that ATi could pull if off quite frankly, but they have and in a big way.
The Radeon X800s are significantly lower profile and lower power that NVIDIA's top shelf 6800 Ultra card. They require only one power source and don't require you to upgrade your power supply to a 480 Watt unit, like NVIDIA's 6800 Ultra product does. NVIDIA's new 6800GT, with its single slot, single power connector design, that also doesn't require a beefier power supply, is a lot more compelling frankly and it could very well be NVIDIA's sleeper product of the year. Regardless you've also got to hand it to ATi for overall design elegance allowing lower power along with 2X the performance of their previous generation. Occasionally, it seems, you can have your cake and eat it to.
We would like to spend a bit more time with Temporal AA before we cast full judgment on it but it works and with what looks like zero performance impact, at twice the effective sample resolution. We're more interested in seeing what Centroid sample AA can do in future DX9 releases but for now, this tides us over nicely as well.
And the Ruby demo... Holy mackerel what tech demo... And she's mighty easy on the eyes. She's just polygons though - try to remember that.
All told, this time around, things are bit more nip and tuck for ATi and NVIDIA but again, it looks like ATi comes out on top. We'll save one caveat with respect to the X800's lack of PS3.0 support. If PS3.0 becomes mainstream in game engines before ATi's next product launch, it could spell trouble. On the flip side, if you can create a demo like Ruby and run it exclusively on PS2.0 hardware, we're left wondering how long the road ahead is for PS3.0 adoption.
Regardless, in the end, ATi and NVIDIA will still most likely be hard at it, no matter where the road ahead takes us, driving cinematic quality rendering to PC graphics. We offering a hearty congratulations to ATi here on the launch of their X800 series products. They've raised the performance and image quality bar once again and it's all good.