After getting off to a slow start, ATI’s R430-based products, the RADEON X800 and RADEON X800 XL, are now beginning to appear more readily on retail shelves, and best of all, prices have been steadily falling.
Traditional retailers appear to be taking the lead this time around on pricing, as ATI’s own X800 XL board has been available for weeks at $299.99 both online and on store shelves at CompUSA and Fry’s Electronics. Meanwhile, online e-tailers such as Newegg and Zipzoomfly – the guys who usually get the latest products first and sell them for the lowest price – were selling these cards for anywhere from $30-$60 over MSRP. Fortunately prices have taken a dramatic nosedive at Newegg however, with Rosewill and ATI X800 XL cards priced right around $300, so it appears that the days of X800 XL cards selling with ridiculous markups is beginning to end.
On paper, the RADEON X800 XL is unmatched. It features a 16-pixel pipeline graphics core running at 400MHz, 50MHz faster than NVIDIA’s GeForce 6800 GT. This gives the RADEON X800 XL a theoretical fill rate advantage over the 6800 GT, 6.4 Gigatexels/second on X800 XL versus 5.6 Gigatexels/second for GeForce 6800 GT. Both graphics cores feature a similar memory subsystem with quad 64-bit memory controllers (for a 256-bit memory interface) running at 500MHz (1.0GHz effective) with 256MB of GDDR3 memory.
Six X800 XL cards
X800 XL and 6800 GT PCI-E
The real kicker for X800 XL though is its $300 price tag. This is $100 below the GeForce 6800 GT, and the same price as NVIDIA’s 12-pipeline GeForce 6800, which runs at just 325MHz. As a result, the RADEON X800 XL is considered to be the new price/performance king among most enthusiasts.
Copper-based X800 XL cards
Dual DVI on some cards
With this in mind, we’ve rounded up six of the hottest RADEON X800 XL cards on the market right now. Each of these manufacturers enjoys Tier One board partner status with ATI, and can be found online or at the retail level for sale. Typically ATI holds a vice grip on their partners board designs, we saw this most recently in our RADEON X800 XT shootout, where three out of the four boards were practically identical to each other, but this isn’t the case with the X800 XL cards we’re evaluating today. While all six boards stick pretty close to ATI’s reference board design, many board partners have incorporated features that are unique to their X800 XL board, with the most striking example being Gigabyte’s silent-running GV-RX80L256V SilentPipe.
Gigabyte’s engineers really went out of their way to do something different with this board, and it certainly shows, but more on that later. Right now let’s look at a quick features comparison of the boards represented here today:
|The RADEON X800 XL cards compared|
|Card||Noise Level||Copper Cooling||Dual DVI||VIVO||HDTV cable?|
|ATI RADEON X800 XL||3||No||No||No||Yes|
|Gigabyte GV-RX80L256V SilentPipe||1||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|PowerColor RADEON X800 XL||3||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Sapphire RADEON X800 XL||6||Yes||No||No||Yes|