While the RADEON X850 XT and X850 XT Platinum Edition may be ATIís fastest cards on paper, in reality the RADEON X800 XT is still carrying the PCI Express load for the company.
Both ATI and NVIDIA have announced PCI Express products at the $500 price point, but up to this point we still havenít received a single PCI-E GeForce 6800 Ultra or RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition from either graphics manufacturer or any of their board partners. Who wouldíve known both companies would have done such a poor job executing earlier this summer?
Fortunately, both companies have a backup plan. In the case of ATI, that product is the X800 XT for now, with the X850 XT eventually filling that role. As you probably know by now, NVIDIAís equivalent is the GeForce 6800 GT. Weíve highlighted the pros and cons of each chip in previous articles, so we wonít rehash that debate today, instead weíll focus on covering a quartet of X800 XT PCI Express cards weíve received up to this point, as some of you are likely planning on overhauling your current system over the holidays. While youíre at it, you might as well jump on the PCI Express boat too donít you think?
The X800 XT cards
MSI and PowerColor cards
X800 XT origins
ATIís X800 XT was initially conceived to service the OEM segment of the graphics market. As PCI Express was ramping up for launch last spring, Dell, one of ATIís largest partners, didnít like the thermals on ATIís X800 XT Platinum Edition. Dell knew of Intelís thermal problems with ďPrescottĒ LGA-775 Pentium 4 processors, and werenít too excited at the thought of pairing another hot component within their LGA-775 systems. After all, Intelís processors would only be getting hotter as clock speed increased (at the time, Intel still planned to hit 4GHz by the end of the year). ATI, determined to land the sale, complied with Dellís wishes and came up with a solution: the RADEON X800 XT.
Another comparison shot of the cards
By reducing the clock speeds from 520MHz core/560MHz memory in the RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition to 500MHz core/500MHz memory in the RADEON X800 XT, ATI got their heat output down to acceptable levels. At the same time however, the X800 XT retained the X800 XT Platinum Editionís 16-pixel pipeline architecture, allowing it to remain a top performer.
The RADEON X800 XT was initially intended to be a PCI Express part only, but the lack of AGP X800 XT Platinum Edition cards forced ATI to also release an AGP variant of the X800 XT three months ago. The specs on both cards are identical, with the only difference being the interface used.