ATI Radeon X800XL 512MB & Catalyst 5.6 Driver Update

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Our Test System & 3DMark05

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEM: We tested our 512MB Radeon X800 XL on an MSI Neo4 Platinum / SLI nForce 4 SLI-based motherboard, powered by an AMD Athlon 64 4000+ CPU and 1GB of Corsair XPert RAM. The first thing we did when configuring this test system was enter the BIOS and loaded the "High Performance Defaults."  The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows XP Professional with SP2 was installed. When the installation was complete, we installed the latest nForce 4 chipset drivers, installed all of the other necessary drivers for the rest of our components, and removed Windows Messenger from the system. Auto-Updating and System Restore were then disabled, the hard drive was defragmented, and a 768MB permanent page file was created on the same partition as the Windows installation. Lastly, we set Windows XP's Visual Effects to "best performance," installed all of the benchmarking software, and ran the tests.

The HotHardware Test System
AMD Athlon powered
Processor -

Motherboards -

Video Cards -

Memory -

Audio -

Hard Drive -

Optical Drive -

Other -

Operating System -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers

AMD Athlon 64 4000+ processor (2.4GHz)

MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum / SLI
nForce4 SLI chipset

ATI Radeon X800 XL 512MB

ATI Radeon X800 XL
ATI Radeon X850XT PE
GeForce 6800 Ultra
GeForce 6800 GT

1024MB Corsair XMS XPert PC3200 RAM

Integrated on board

Western Digital "Raptor"

36GB - 10,000RPM - SATA

Lite-On 16X DVD-ROM

3.5-inch Floppy Drive

Windows XP Professional SP2 (Fully Patched)
nForce Drivers v6.53
DirectX 9.0c

NVIDIA Forceware v71.89

ATI Catalyst v5.5
Performance Comparisons with 3DMark05
Futuremark's Latest

3DMark05 is the latest installment in a line of synthetic 3D graphics benchmarks, dating back to late 1998.  3DMark99 came out in October 1998 and was followed by the DirectX 7 benchmark, 3DMark2000, roughly two years later.  The DirectX 8.1-compliant 3DMark2001 was released shortly thereafter, and became a very popular tool used by many hardcore gamers.  3DMark03, however, wasn't quite as well received thanks in no small part to the disapproval of graphics giant NVIDIA.  With 3DMark05, though, Futuremark hopes to regain some of its audience with an advanced DirectX 9 benchmarking tool.  We ran 3DMark05's default test (1,024 x 768) on all of the cards and configurations we tested and have the overall results for you posted below.

We've got two sets of performance metrics to focus on in the coming pages - the affect that having 512MB of RAM on-board has on performance, and the benefits offered by the new Catalyst v5.6 drivers.  As you can see in the graph above, the additional 256MB of RAM on the 512MB Radeon X800XL did not have any real discernable affect on performance versus a 256MB board, but the Catalyst v5.6 drivers increased performance by over 100 points in 3DMark05.

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