A Closer Look At The Cards
Taking a slight diversion with the digicam, here's a look at the two new X800 series cards we'll be testing later in this article.
One phrase comes to mind when you look at the clean lines and neat layout of the new Radeon X800 XT and X800 Pro, "design elegance". The VPU and Memory cooler on these new boards is actually smaller than what can be found on a Radeon 9800XT and about half the height and weight of the GeForce 6800 Ultra's cooler. The Radeon X800 XT is a neat single slot design that runs cool as a cucumber, relatively speaking. Additionally, the only way to tell our two reference boards apart is by looking at the installed GDDR3 RAM that is on each board. The X800 XT comes with 600MHz rated Samsung K4J55323QF-GC16 chips and the X800 Pro comes with 500MHz rated -GC20 chips.
One neat power connector, same power supply:
What is probably more impressive is the noted power consumption of these two new cards. As a reference point, the GeForce FX 6800 Ultra averages about 120Watts of power. The Radeon X800 XT averages about the same power consumption under load (68W or so) as a Radeon 9800 XT but the Radeon X800 XT actually consume about 33% less power (38W vs. 58W) at idle versus the Radeon 9800XT. So, we're looking at a potential performance gain of 2X over legacy product, with actually less over all power consumption. The ASIC and Board Design Engineers at ATi should be very proud parents and helping them along their way is TSMC's .13 micro low-k manufacturing process technology.
Also of note, is the single power connector that is required for both the Radeon X800 XT and Radeon X800 Pro. The yellow four pin composite video input connector, that is next to the power connector, is there in support of ViVo capabilities for the card. Conversely, NVIDIA's new GeForce 6800 Ultra requires dual power lines and a minimum 480 Watt power supply. We're fairly certain that many end users will have issues with NVIDIA's new enthusiast card power requirements. However, ATi was actually able to gain a power and thermal signature improvement over their previous generation product, with the introduction of the X800 series VPUs.
From top to bottom pictured here is NVIDIA's new GeForce 6800 Ultra, an ATi Radeon 9800XT, the Radeon X800 Pro and the Radeon X800 XT. All things being equal, ask yourself which card you personally would rather have in your system. Now consider the potential performance gains with ATi's new X800 series cards and you just can't help but be impressed with the product, at least on the surface. So logically, it's time to drop below the surface and take a look under the hood as well.