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Gigabyte GV-RX80L256V Radeon X800XL Videocard Review

Gigabyte GV-RX80L256V Radeon X800XL Videocard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: This brand-new videocard is built from the ground up around the ATI X800 XL VPU, which is nicely hidden behind a complicated heatpipe-based passive cooling system.
 78% Rating:   
Filed under: Video Cards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Gigabyte Mar 23 2005   C. Sun  
Home > Reviews > Video Cards > Gigabyte GV-RX80L256V

More info on the heatpipe cooler

The quiet PC revolution has been gaining ground over the last few years. In fact it has become so mainstream that large computer stores are starting to carry 'quiet PC products' such as low dB case fans, sound dampening materials, and low noise/fanless power supplies.

The Gigabyte GV-RX80L256V is not the first fanless videocard, but it is probably one of the first high-end fanless card to hit the market, as far as I'm aware. A high-end videocard that doesn't produce noise has been on the wish list of many an enthusiast, so how does this one handle the heat?

The heatpipe cooler found on the GV-RX80L256V looks and feels very solid and is intended to cool the Radeon X800 XL VPU only. The heatsinks on the front and back of the videocard do not make contact with the GDDR3 memory, and really don't need to. A ~50mm wide copper heat spreader rests on the X800 XL core, and is in turn connected to the two heatpipes and the heatsink on the front of the videocard. The heatpipes primarily transfer the heat load to the large heatsink on the back.

During testing we noticed that the heatpipes and heatsink were way too hot to touch... yet the card did remain stable.

PCSTATS measured the temperatures of the GV-RX80L256V heatsink in a few locations, with a Fluke 54-II thermocouple thermometer. Under load, the heatpipes were initially about 83.3 degrees Celsius, while the heatsinks on both the front and back measured in the mid 60 degree Celsius region. The X800 XL core temperature reached as high as 105 degrees Celsius, according to RivaTuner's built in monitoring feature (figure in some +/-10 error on that figure).

PCstats test platform consists of a motherboard and necessary drives laid out in the open, so there were no air forces from case fans, or powersupply exhaust to influence the thermal equation.

Our expectations are that the GV-RX80L256V's heatsink is designed to take advantage of the system airflow within a case, and exhaust air from the CPU heatsink. After simulating airflow similar to what we'd find in a case (an 92mm case fan 6" away from the videocard, pointing in its general direction) the temperatures dropped considerably across the board, with the core temperature hovering in the 50 degree Celsius region. Bottom line, while the GV-RX80L256V is a passive heatsink, it will need good case ventilation to work properly - this doesn't mean big loud case fans, a 92mm or 120mm fan blowing in its general direction will be more than sufficient.

Gigabyte has done a good job making sure that the heatsink does not come in contact with the various IC on the PCB of the videocard. Any part of the heatsink that could come in contact with the card is lined with electrically insulating foam.

X800 XL Technology

The X800 XL core is built on IBM's 0.11 micron manufacturing technology and the core contains approximately 160 million transistors. As you've probably noticed, the X800 XL uses a slightly smaller manufacturing process than the X850 (0.13 low-K), but ATi has always experimented with new technology on its lower end cards. nVIDIA did things the other way around and learned that lesson the hard way with its GeForceFX 5800 Ultra.

The X800 XL core is normally clocked at 400 MHz, and has 16 rendering pipelines. The card is also backed up by 2ns Samsung memory which is clocked at a full 1 GHz, using a 256bit memory controller. That means the X800 XL VPU is basically the X850 slightly smaller and running a bit slower.

W00T, Overclocking!

The GV-RX80L256V is not intended as a hardcore overclocker's videocard but is instead designed for quiet computing. With that in mind we really didn't expect too much, especially given its warm passive cooling solution.

As usual we started with the core overclocking first, cranking the card up past its default 398Mhz. We easily passed 410 MHz but we couldn't get much further then that. In the end we settled for 421 MHz. Anything higher and 3DMark2001 would lock up when it ran the Nature demo.

By default Gigabyte clocks the 2ns Samsung DDR3 BGA modules at 1 GHz. We didn't get much of an overclock from the memory either as it topped out at 1026 MHz.

I have a feeling that ATi might be artificially limiting how high X800 XL videocards can overclock so they do not compete with higher end cards. It would make sense based on what we saw with the GV-RX80L256V, since neither the core nor memory displayed any artifacts when pushed too high, they simply locked up instead.

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Contents of Article: Gigabyte GV-RX80L256V
 Pg 1.  Gigabyte GV-RX80L256V Radeon X800XL Videocard Review
 Pg 2.  — More info on the heatpipe cooler
 Pg 3.  System Spec's and Benchmarks
 Pg 4.  Benchmarks: CodeCreatures
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: AquaMark
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: AquaMark3
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: Gun Metal 2
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: X2: The Threat
 Pg 9.  Benchmarks: UT2003
 Pg 10.  Benchmarks: Doom 3
 Pg 11.  Advanced Benchmarks: 3DMark2001, X2: The Threat
 Pg 12.  Advanced Benchmarks: Doom 3

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