In The Box
Once we get all the goodies out of the package, we end up with the video board, a small standardized manual, one DVI adapter, all the cabling necessary to make use of the features of the board, and a small software package that includes drivers, one game, and a couple of software utilities to help out with DVD playback and such. Nothing extravagant, but it contains everything you need to start getting the most out of this board.
When it comes to the R580XT chipset used in the video board, there are a lot of native capabilities that come with it. This includes full VIVO functionality and the ability to communicate with nearly any sort of input device. The cabling that comes with this product allows you to make use of this function regardless whether the device requires RGB, S-Video or multi-function connections. Also pictured above is a PCI-E adapter for those who do not have a power supply that supports this newer requirement and a DVI adapter to allow the use of an analog CRT with this board. Given that this particular board has dual DVI ports and no 15-pin D-Sub, I was a little surprised that there was only a single DVI adapter. Of course, with LCD monitors becoming so popular, this likely won't be much of an issue for most.
Besides drivers, the software package that comes with this board includes the game "Delta Force Xtreme", as well as two CyberLink products. These are PowerDVD v6 and PowerDirector. The first works in the place of Windows Media Player to handle your multimedia needs while the second title allows you to manipulate incoming media content to suit your needs. Both of these programs have been around for a while and are easy to use. Neither are required installations for the video board to have full functionality.
Moving on to the board itself, we see that the folks at GeCube stuck with the reference design on this product. Utilizing the ATI R580XT chipset, we get rock solid performance coupled with a full 512MB of GDDR3 memory. While some may think this is total overkill, keep in mind that some of the newer titles are being created to make use of this high volume of memory.
One thing to keep in mind when looking at this board (or any X1900 board I've seen so far) is the double PCI slot layout. That monster cooler attached to the front face carries a larger footprint and requires an extra slot. While most items built into modern motherboards are far better than they were in the past, if you are one of those that have several added peripherals, this might be a concern.
Moving around to the back of the board shows a very clean layout. As with the X1900XT board reviewed earlier, there are no added memory modules cluttering this side of the board. This is very helpful, particularly when it comes to trying to keep that high performance memory cool and running as quickly as possible.
As briefly mentioned above, this board comes with only DVI ports as far as output is concerned. You can still make use of an analog CRT with the included adapter, but if you want a dual display, you will either need the second monitor as a digital or purchase another DVI adapter. Of course, it goes without saying that I highly recommend digital displays over analog since the output is crisper and clearer.
The center port, commonly referred to as an S-Video port, is a multi-function input connection that allows the board to accept video input. The cabling included with the retail package will give you a full range of choices so you won't be limited to the device used for getting this data to your system.
When you first lift this video board, one of the first things you'll note is the weight. This thing is downright heavy! The reasoning of this is simple; there is a good deal of copper used for the stock cooling. Just like with processors, the higher you run the speeds up the hotter it gets. Even shrinking the manufacturing size to a .90nm process, the heat produced is still very high. To combat this, ATI has added a massive cooling fan and a large copper heatsink. While the fan roars loudly into life at boot-up, it quickly slows back down to a bearable level after about 3-5 seconds. It isn't a silent cooling method, but the noise is not sp loud that it interferes with normal usage.