More New Radeons & The Drivers
The new Radeon X800 XL and Radeon X800 are the latest additions to the X800 product line. They're based on the new R430 core, which is built using TSMC's 0.11-micron manufacturing process. It's got the same feature set as the R420, but because it's built using a 0.11-micron manufacturing process, the actual R430 dice are roughly 15.5% smaller than the 0.13-micron R420 used on the X800 XT and X800 Pro. Smaller dice mean more dice per wafer, which will usually result in higher yields (all other things being equal). And this combination of higher yields and smaller dice means ATi is able to sell R430s at a lower price point than the R423. $349 for the 16-pipe X800 XL and $249 for the X800, to be exact. The X800 XL's 16-pipe core is clocked at 400MHz with 256MB of RAM clocked at 500MHz (1GHz DDR). The X800 is also clocked at 400MHz, but with a 12-pipe core and only 128MB of 350MHz (700MHz DDR) memory. These new X800s also sport slim-line single-slot cooling solutions, and because they draw less power than X800s based on the R423 core, they don't require any supplemental power. The 75 watts supplied by a standard PCI Express X16 slot is sufficient. ATi is claiming the X800 will outperform the 12-pipe GeForce 6800 by up to 50% in some games, and the company claims the X800 XL will outperform a GeForce 6800 GT by up to 20%. We'll know for sure if this is case once they arrive in the HH labs a few weeks from now.
ATi's new Radeons, including the X850 XL Platinum Edition we'll be looking at today, are compatible with its Catalyst driver suite. All of the same features and options previously available for the Radeon X800 XT and X800 Pro will be there when the Catalysts are used with any of the new Radeons. If you're not familiar with it, ATi has also recently released an update to its standard control panel dubbed Catalyst Control Center. We evaluated the CCC upon its introduction back in September, so we won't go in-depth here again, but there is one new feature available with the X850 that we want to point out.
The "Overdrive" tab, which was normally used to slightly overclock the core on "XT" branded Radeons, has gotten a complete overhaul. In systems equipped with an X850 XT, the new Overdrive tab now features user-configurable sliders for overclocking the GPU core and memory. There is also an option available that'll run an automated clock detection utility that makes it very easy to find your graphics card's maximum stable core and memory clock speeds. Then based on the core temperature, clocks speeds will throttle to keep the system stable.