Summary: Looking for an X800 XT card with dual DVIs? ASUS has got you covered! Their Extreme AX800 XT is powered by ATI's RADEON X800 XT VPU and not only ships with dual DVIs, but also heatpipe cooling. Check out our first impressions of this promising card in this article!
ASUS is the first manufacturer to get a retail PCI Express RADEON X800 XT in our hands, and it looks like a real winner. Since weíre still a few weeks out from posting a full review of this card, we figured weíd take the time out to give you a quick preview, as there isnít much information out there about it and those of you who plan on building a PCI-E system in the near future should definitely give this card a close look.
For starters, the ASUS Extreme AX800XT card weíre looking at today is based on ATIís X800 XT VPU, and not the X800 XT Platinum Edition. If you recall our X800 XT/X600 XT Performance Preview, the X800 XT was built to address the needs of OEMs who liked the X800 XT Platinumís core technology, but felt the heat generated by the card was a little too high for use in their PCI Express system designs. With Prescottís thermal requirements increasing with each new release, they werenít comfortable adding another hot component in their systems.
To accommodate this market, ATI has developed the X800 XT. The X800 XT features the same 16-pixel pipeline architecture as the RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition, only the core and memory clock frequencies have been reduced: the X800 XT runs at 500MHz core/500MHz memory, versus 520MHz/560MHz on the Platinum Edition.
These changes make the X800 XT cheaper to produce, as 2.0ns GDDR3 memory is used in place of the 1.6ns modules used on the Platinum Edition. 2.0ns memory modules are also more readily available at the moment than 1.6ns modules (which is why the Platinum Edition is in such short supply), so theoretically supplies of X800 XT wonít be as tight as the X800 XT Platinum Edition has proven to be. And finally, thanks to the X800 XTís reduced clocks, the board generates less heat.
Itís important to note that the X800 XT is a PCI Express-only part, we havenít seen any plans for an AGP version of this card, but if the shortage of X800 XT Platinum Editions continues, we wouldnít be surprised to see one of ATIís board partners step in with a card, as our understanding is that these graphics cores are still yielding well. The MSRP for the X800 XT is $50 lower than the Platinum Edition, so it could potentially contend with the GeForce 6800 GT in sales.
The ASUS Extreme AX800 XT
What ASUS has done with their EAX800 XT is simply marvelous. The first aspect youíll probably notice are the dual DVI connectors, this is the first ATI card weíve seen with dual DVI connections:
By implementing dual DVIs, the EAX800 XT offers more display configurations than other ATI X800 cards. You can pair the card with dual DVI-based LCD monitors of course, or dual VGA connections (two DVI adapters are included in the box). Or if you donít have two DVI monitors, one DVI and one VGA.
The second trait that helps the Extreme AX800 XT stand out from the rest is its heatpipe cooling. ASUS has integrated a single slot, slim profile copper heatpipe, and paired it with a copper-based heatsink. We havenít tried it under extended use yet, but we think this should give ASUS a little bit of an edge over the other card manufacturers. For added style, ASUS has also integrated a blue LED in the center of the cardís fan.
In addition to the card itself, ASUS has put together quite a bundle for the EAX800 XT. Included in the box is a USB 300K pixel webcam, a PCI Express power adapter, S-Video to RCA adapter, and two DVI adapters. Meanwhile, the software provided includes a copy of ASUSí DVD XP software, Ulead Cool 3D and Photo Express SE 4.0, Cyberlink PowerDirector and Medi@ Show SE 2.0, and a copy of Deus Ex: Invisible War.
Of course, no high-end ASUS card would be complete without their powerful Smart Doctor software, which weíve praised many times in the past. Smart Doctor provides both manual and dynamic overclocking as well as cooling, adjusting both of these based on temperature and/or workload. Smart Doctor, and its Smart Cooling and Hyperdrive functions really put ASUS in a class by itself, going well beyond the capabilities ATI provides with OVERDRIVE.
We really like what weíve seen from the Extreme AX800 XT so far. Dual DVI is a feature ATI owners have been wanting for years now. This call only intensified with the GeForce 6800 Ultraís dual DVIs as a standard feature. Today, ASUS provides it with the EAX800 XT. This feature alone could sell a lot of boards for them. Smart Doctor and the heatpipe cooling will also likely draw a lot of gamers eyes. ASUS even provides a webcam (although we donít know how popular this feature will be). The only thing thatís really missing is video input, but we assume ASUS plans to provide this with their PCI Express-based X800 XT Platinum Edition card.
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