When it comes to customer service, ATi is top notch. In
the last few months I have had to RMA at least seven ATi videocards, and the
experience has been pretty painless. The problems were noisy or dead fans
that had stopped working properly, causing overheating of the GPU, and subsequently artifacts because the problem wasn't noticed quickly. Replacement videocards typically arrived within five
business days, which is lightning quick in the world of product RMA's!
In the high-end videocard market, the Radeon X800 XL VPU offers great
value. Perhaps that's why these cards are selling out everywhere. Today PCStats will be checking
out this high-end value king in the form of the ATi Radeon X800
XL PCI Express videocard.
The ATI X800 XL is backed by 256MB of GDDR3 memory. A 512MB
version is available also, but the extra memory does little in terms of real
world performance. Like all other videocards currently on the market, the Radeon
X800 XL supports S-Video/Composite TV-out as well as component output
for HDTV owners. If you run dual analog monitors, you'll be pleased to know
that ATi includes the necessary DVI to analog converter. If you're a dual
digital monitor user, you're out of luck.
The Radeon X800 XL uses the same
reference PCB design as the higher end X800/850 line of videocards do,
which shouldn't be a surprise since all the different video cores are
closely related. Noticeably missing on the ATi Radeon X800 XL retail card are the four
pin front panel video output connector and six pin 12V power connector. Since the X800 XL
is built on the smaller 0.11 micron manufacturing process, the videocard
can get all its power from the PCI Express x16 slot.
The heatsink on the ATi Radeon
X800 XL is not quite as impressive as some of the other solutions we've
seen recently, but it does the job and is quiet. Made from aluminum, the
heatsink comes in contact with both the core and memory on the front of
the videocard but there is no additional cooling on the rear memory chips. The
55mm fan is temperature controlled and spins at full speed when the computer boots up,
making quite a racket. Thankfully, after system POST the fan quiets down. During testing (and real world
use), the fan never spun up to full speed again, even when overclocked.
want to use something else to cool this videocard, the two mounting holes around
the X800 XL VPU are standard size. That means you can install any of the
various GPU/VPU coolers on the market.
We are very happy to
see that ATi includes all the (non-component) cables necessary to connect the PC to a television. No
component cables are included, but since high quality component cables are very expensive ($100+), I
wouldn't expect ATi to include them without drastically raising the price of
Bundled software has never been ATi's
strong suit and we've become used to seeing high-end cards come with nothing.
The Radeon 9800XT did come with a Half Life 2 coupon, but that videocard was
the exception. ATi's multimedia software is among the best on the market but
works only with ATi videocards.
At first it would seem like the ATi Radeon
X800 XL does not support core temperature monitoring since it's not available in the drivers,
but actually you can read the core temps if you use the right
program. RivaTuner allows you to monitor the X800 XL VPU's temperature which is a very handy