Introduction, Specs. & Bundle

Over the past few months, we've posted a multitude of graphics related articles here at Since September, we've covered no less than seven product launches from ATI, five from rival NVIDIA, and even S3 chimed in with one of their own. Some of these products were mid-range or entry-level offerings, but a couple of them redefined the high-end of each company's respective line-ups.

A great side effect of every new product launch at the high-end, is that the previous flagship products tend to get much less expensive. Take the Radeon X1800 XT, for example. A few short months ago, the Radeon X1800 XT represented the pinnacle of ATI's desktop graphics technology. But today, proceeding the Radeon X1900 launch, the X1800 XT is no longer ATI's flagship GPU and as a result prices have dropped considerably.

The MSI RX1800XT-VT2D512E we'll be showcasing here seems to be blazing the trail of lower-priced Radeon X1800XT cards. As of this writing, prices on this card have dropped to below $400. Competing products in the same family have yet to have their prices fall this low, but you can bet those days are coming, as long as supplies last. For now though, lets dive right in and see what MSI is offering with the lowest priced Radeon X1800 XT on the market today.


Features & Specifications
Features - ATI Radeon X1800
• 321 million transistors on a 90nm fabrication process
• Ultra-threaded architecture with fast dynamic branching
• Sixteen pixel shader processors
• Eight vertex shader processors
• 256-bit 8-channel GDDR3/GDDR4 memory interface
• Native PCI Express x16 bus interface
• Dynamic Voltage Control

Ring Bus Memory Controller
• 512-bit internal ring bus for memory reads
• Programmable intelligent arbitration logic
• Fully associative texture, color, and Z/stencil cache designs
• Hierarchical Z-buffer with Early Z test
• Lossless Z Compression (up to 48:1)
• Fast Z-Buffer Clear
• Z/stencil cache optimized for real-time shadow rendering
• Optimized for performance at high display resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions

Ultra-Threaded Shader Engine
• Support for Microsoft DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 programmable vertex and pixel shaders in hardware
• Full speed 128-bit floating point processing for all shader operations
• Up to 512 simultaneous pixel threads
• Dedicated branch execution units for high performance dynamic branching and flow control
• Dedicated texture address units for improved efficiency
• 3Dc+ texture compression
_o High quality 4:1 compression for normal maps and two-channel data formats
_o High quality 2:1 compression for luminance maps and single-channel data formats
• Multiple Render Target (MRT) support
• Render to vertex buffer support
• Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL 2.0

Advanced Image Quality Features
• 64-bit floating point HDR rendering supported throughout the pipeline
_o Includes support for blending and multi-sample anti-aliasing
• 32-bit integer HDR (10:10:10:2) format supported throughout the pipeline
_o Includes support for blending and multi-sample anti-aliasing
• 2x/4x/6x Anti-Aliasing modes
_o Multi-sample algorithm with gamma correction, programmable sparse sample patterns, and centroid sampling
_o New Adaptive Anti-Aliasing feature with Performance and Quality modes
_o Temporal Anti-Aliasing mode
_o Lossless Color Compression (up to 6:1) at all resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions
• 2x/4x/8x/16x Anisotropic Filtering modes
_o Up to 128-tap texture filtering
_o Adaptive algorithm with Performance and Quality options
• High resolution texture support (up to 4k x 4k)
• Multi-GPU technology
• Four modes of operation:
_o Alternate Frame Rendering (maximum performance)
_o Supertiling (optimal load-balancing)
_o Scissor (compatibility)
_o Super AA 8x/10x/12x/14x (maximum image quality)
_o Program compliant

Avivo Video and Display Engine
• High performance programmable video processor
_o Accelerated MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264 decoding (including DVD/HD-DVD/Blu-ray playback), encoding & transcoding
_o DXVA support
_o De-blocking and noise reduction filtering
_o Motion compensation, IDCT, DCT and color space conversion
_o Vector adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing
_o 3:2 pulldown (frame rate conversion)
• Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time
• HDR tone mapping acceleration
_o Maps any input format to 10 bit per channel output
• Flexible display support
_o Dual integrated dual-link DVI transmitters
_o DVI 1.0 / HDMI compliant and HDCP ready
_o Dual integrated 10 bit per channel 400 MHz DACs
_o 16 bit per channel floating point HDR and 10 bit per channel DVI output
_o Programmable piecewise linear gamma correction, color correction, and color space conversion (10 bits per color)
_o Complete, independent color controls and video overlays for each display
_o High quality pre- and post-scaling engines, with underscan support for all outputs
_o Content-adaptive de-flicker filtering for interlaced displays
_o Xilleon™ TV encoder for high quality analog output
_o YPrPb component output for direct drive of HDTV displays
_o Spatial/temporal dithering enables 10-bit color quality on 8-bit and 6-bit displays
_o Fast, glitch-free mode switching
_o VGA mode support on all outputs
• Compatible with ATI TV/Video encoder products, including Theater 550


MSI's RX1800XT-VT2D512E Accessory Bundle

MSI includes a decent accessory bundle with their RX1800XT-VT2D512E. Along with the card itself, we found a User's Guide, a Quick Installation Guide, a driver CD, DVD playback software, and one full-version game, namely Colin McRae Rally 2005. Decent game, but not quite the boutique title to show of this card's power and capabilities. On the hardware front MSI throws in an S-Video Cable, a standard composite cable, a VIVO adapter cable, an HD component output adapter, a Molex-to-6-pin PCI Express 12V power cable, and two DVI to analog output converters. Overall, MSI's bundle is relatively complete, but not quite on the level of what Sapphire or Asus have been offering as of late.

Tags:  MSI, MS, x1, 2D, XT, 180

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