The PackageThe Package While the color choice might not be for some people, the purple box is very funky looking and would stand out amongst a lot of other brands that have quite a bland looking retail box style.We have all our main features included on the front of the box - Dual Link DVI for people lucky enough to own those 30" Apple LCDs, VIVO, HDTV and 256MB of DDR memory. We also can see that it is PCI Express and supports the new AVIVO technology that ATI is pushing and comes with software bundled worth about $190.
The CardThe CardWith all the little bits and pieces in the package out the way we can move onto the more important part, the graphics card. Gigabyte has continued to use the purple theme on the card with the sticker over the cooler. On the red PCB it looks great and in a case with some good lighting, it would look fantastic.
Benchmarks - Test System Setup and 3DMark03Test System SetupProcessor(s): AMD Athlon X2 3800+ Motherboard(s): ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe - 16x PCI-E lanes (Supplied by ASUS)Memory: 2 X 1GB Corsair PC3500LL PRO DDR (Supplied by Corsair)Hard Disk(s): WD Raptor 74GB 10,000RPM SATA (Supplied by Western Digital)Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP1Drivers: ATI Catalyst 5.11, nVidia Forceware 81.94 and DX9cThe test system has gone through a slight overhaul this week with the ASUS SLI Premium going out and the new and impressive ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe coming in to take its place. We have also moved from our 2 x 512MB Mushkin modules to the new Corsair PC3500LL PRO (2 x 1GB) that is specifically suited for the A8N32 motherboard from ASUS. We will be looking further into this combination at a later date. With the new motherboard setup we have an increased CPU overclock to 2.45GHz from the 2.35GHz we have been running.Quickly before we move on, we have used the latest version of ATI Tool from our friend W1zzard @ TechPowerUp, the creator of ATI Tool. This does give us the ability to overclock the core of the X1800XL but unfortunately not the memory as yet. So we will be doing some overclocking just not as much as we had hoped.The X1800XL in the US is similarly priced to the GeForce 7800GT we are going to be comparing it against. In Australia the X1800XL sits a little bit higher and Gigabyte have set a very nice $699 AUD RRP for the card which makes it an excellent price for a card from such a reputable manufacturer. It's also important to keep in mind we're comparing the Gigabyte X1800XL against the BFG 7800GT which comes with higher clock speeds than regular 7800GT cards.The other thing we must mention is that we have used the latest official drivers for both cards - the Catalyst 5.11 and the ForceWare 81.94. The latest ForceWare drivers are able to make use out of the X2 processor so it does sit in a better position before we enter into the benchmarks. We should hopefully see a similar technology implementation in the next release of Catalyst drivers but if not there is no doubt that it will be early next year in the new 6 series.3DMark03Version and / or Patch Used: Build 360Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark03/Buy It Here
Benchmarks - 3DMark053DMark05Version and / or Patch Used: Build 120Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark05/Buy It Here
Benchmarks - Half Life 2Half Life 2Version and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.comBuy It Here
Benchmarks - Doom 3Doom 3Version and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.idsoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.doom3.comBuy It Here
Benchmarks - Quake 4Quake 4Version and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.idsoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.quake4game.comBuy It Here
Benchmarks - F.E.A.R.F.E.A.R.Version and / or Patch Used: UnpatchedTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.vugames.com Product Homepage: http://www.whatisfear.com/us/Buy It Here
Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AFHigh Quality AA and AFIn our High Quality tests we bump the Antialiasing (AA) and Anisotropic Filtering (AF) up causing the card(s) to be put under more load.This usually helps us remove the CPU limitation. We use 4 x AA and 8 x AF as this is quite a common setup for most people who are venturing into the AA and AF area.
Benchmarks - CPU OverclockingCPU OverclockingEven with the power of the AMD Athlon X2 and Intel Extreme Edition processors, we still find ourselves hitting a CPU limitation in a lot of our benchmarks. That is, the graphics cards have more performance to give but the processor is letting the team down.By overclocking the processor we can see what kind of a performance increase we get. When something isn't CPU limited the performance increase isn't all that major but when we do have a CPU bottleneck, every MHz extra we can get can show us an excellent jump in performance.The Athlon X2 3800+ was increased from 2GHz to 2.45GHz with a slight increase in the front side bus utilizing the stock X2 heatsink fan.
Benchmarks - Graphics Card OverclockingGraphics Card OverclockingThanks to motherboard and VGA manufactures, overclocking has become such an effortless task, giving literally anyone the chance to overclock their components with very little risk.When it comes to overclocking graphics card we use and recommend two program - for ATI cards you can't go past ATI Tool and if you're on the other side of the fence and using an nVidia card the Coolbits 2 registry hack is it. Both programs offer an Auto Overclock feature which is what we use. The Gigabyte X1800XL was increased from 500MHz on the core to 577MHz and the memory remained the same (at 1GHz DDR) due to our overclocking tool limitation.
Final ThoughtsFinal ThoughtsWe really had a chance to get down and dirty with the latest X1800XL sample to hit our labs from Gigabyte. We were able to run more benchmarks and start to tinker a little bit more with the overclocking side of things and as you can see, we really began to start seeing a difference in performance with the overclock.As we mentioned earlier the GeForce 7800GT with the latest drivers really begins to take advantage of the Dual Core processor capabilities on offer from the Athlon X2 and even with that leg up on the X1800XL, it still doesn't manage to blow the ATI competition away totally.Dual graphic card setups are going to become a whole lot more interesting when ATI can get its act together with Crossfire but at the moment the 7800GT SLI capability does light up a lot of people's eyes and lean them towards this option over the ATI offering.The Radeon X1800XL is an excellent GPU and the Gigabyte based solution is pretty good - it's available now and the architecture behind it is more advanced then the nVidia offering which has more MHz and more pipes. The Gigabyte X1800XL is packed full of features such as two Dual Link DVI ports, HDTV output and VIVO support - it's pretty much got everything you could ever need right now as far as IO goes. On top of this, it's a single slot design and the cooler isn't loud plus the entire package is quite stylish and very easy on the eye.Die hard ATI fans are going to opt for this option over the other thanks to better driver support (monthly releases) and the image quality and options available by ATI are greater then its nVidia counterpart as it's not always about frames per second, even though the gap between the X1800XL and 7800GT is closing especially when we start to overclock.- ProsGood package bundleAvailable now to buyDual Link DVI, HDTV and VIVOMonthly driver updatesSingle slot designGood performance and even better when overclockedGreat overclocking ability (core only currently through ATI Tool)Competitively priced- ConsOverclocking is still difficult (at the moment)Still waiting for X1K Crossfire master cardsRating - 9 out of 10 and TweakTown's "MUST HAVE" Editors Choice Award
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