TABLE OF CONTENTS
All enlightened readers know that ATI has fallen in love with new technologies connected with PCI-Express and has totally abandoned AGP. Until recently, new products have been flowing into the PCI-E sectors, while nothing new has been designed among AGP video cards.
Let's have a look at the alignment of forces in the PCI-E sector:
And here is the situation that has existed up to now in the AGP sector:
Note the gap between the X800 PRO and the 9800 PRO. It's well known that the price for the former accelerator does not go down, it froze at 400 USD, while the price for the latter is going down very slowly. New products are obviously wanted at the prices between $400 and $200.
The rumours about ATI's work on the PCI-E-to-AGP bridge have been circulating for a long time already, but they have obtained the status of real information only recently, after the corresponding announcement of the new products based on R430 with RIALTO bridge, as well as R481, which supports AGP natively. And that's how marketing specialists picture the current situation:
Prices for the X800 XL and X800 with AGP interfaces can be expected within $350 and $250 correspondingly (for a start), so the new products are quite competitive.
So, here is the first product from the new series: the card bears the PowerColor brand, though due to their complexity they are manufactured by ATI so far (it places orders).
There is even no need in pointing out the key difference from the PCI-E counterpart – it's the bridge:
Note two peculiarities: firstly, the bridge is almost cool, at least you can touch it with your finger (when the card is working); secondly, the PCB is longer due to the bridge. Compare it with the widespread X850 PCB (the same PCB is used in the X800 XL PCI-E):
Even on the photos above you can see that the card is longer. It should be noted that the PCB dimensions are even larger than in GeForce 6800 Ultra, which used to have the largest PCB among single-core video cards up to now. You should take it into account, if you plan on buying this card and you have a small PC case.
In order to avoid damaging the open RIALTO die, a soft heat-conducting material is glued to the chip.
The card is equipped with VIVO, where VideoIn is based on RAGE Theater.
Let's review the cooling system.
Let's have a look at the X800 XL core.
What we see is the same R430, which was for some reason called X800 PRO from the very beginning, though its a sterling 16-pipe chip. Probably the company wanted to confuse users again (even before the final decision on X800 XL, X800 titles) and called such cards X800 PRO (to have them confused with the 12-pipe AGP counterpart).
Installation and Drivers
VSync is disabled.
That's how look temperature conditions of this video card (maximum temperature readings) operating in a closed PC case without additional cooling with minimal air flow (a fan at the rear of the case):
As you can see, everything is within the mark, no overheating problems. We used RivaTuner for monitoring purposes (written by A. Nikolaychuk AKA Unwinder).
Test results: performance comparison
We used the following test applications:
TR:AoD, Paris5_4 DEMO
Of course we should take into account the platform difference, so we can write off 4-5-7% of the difference between the X800 XL AGP and PCI-E. Our conclusion – both cards are practically identical in this test.
As for the rest, we can see that the X800 XL AGP is an overall leader. Interestingly, more expensive cards are outperformed.
The conclusions are actually the same! Considering that CPU plays a large role in this game without AA+AF, the parity demonstrated in this mode can be ignored. And the X800 XL AGP is victorious with enabled AA+AF.
The same picture – the X800 XL AGP demonstrates approximately the same speed as its PCi-E counterpart and becomes the leader of this race, having outperformed even more expensive video cards.
The same picture.
Half-Life2: ixbt01 demo
Regardless of the fact that the X800 XL AGP still outperforms the X800 PRO and greatly outscores the 6800, the 6800GT has taken over the leadership anyway. It's more expensive though.
Half-Life2: ixbt02 demo
And in this test we again see a picture similar to the first tests, where the X800 XL AGP is a leader.
Half-Life2: ixbt03 demo
The same picture!
As you can see, the 6800GT has taken over the leadership, the X800 XL AGP is heavily outperformed, but it looks not very bad against the 6800, considering the heavy modes with AA+AF. And it's a monster of a card against the X800 PRO (which is more expensive!)
On the whole the picture is similar to the previous test. The X800 XL AGP has lost the battle against the 6800GT, but it's greatly outperformed the 6800 as well as the X800 PRO instead.
Chronicles of Riddick, demo 44
A similar situation. It should be noted though that the platform difference introduced some oscillations of performance delta between the X800 XL AGP and the X800 XL PCI-E.
Chronicles of Riddick, demo ducche
That's almost the only test, where the X800 XL AGP is heavily outscored by nearly all competitors. What is it? An accident that depends on the test DEMO? Or this game has serious reefs for ATI products? Time will show: if nothing changes in the new driver versions, this game is much better optimized for NVIDIA products (which I have already mentioned).
So, PowerColor RADEON X800 XL AGP 256MB is an excellent product for its price range (if there is no artificial rise in prices!). I hope that prices for these products will not exceed the promised $350 limit. Popularity of these cards will be very high in this case (considering that the AGP sector is still very large). What concerns this sample, its operating stability is up to the mark, its quality is very high, 2D picture at 1600x1200@85Hz is sharp. It should be noted once more that the RIALTO bridge is almost cool, so the product does not have the drawback that all GeForce 6600GT/6600 cards have – HSI overheating, a lot of users have already complained about it in forums.
You can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards in our 3Digest.
Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards, which concern functional properties of the GPU ATI RADEON X800 (R420)/X850 (R480)/X700 (RV410) and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 (NV40/45)/6600 (NV43)
Andrey Vorobiev (firstname.lastname@example.org)
March 24, 2005
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