HiS Radeon x800 XL IceQ II Turbo -
Now then, prior to diving into the article first a little technological stuff. I have to state this. This article might look similar to previous Radeon articles. Why? Well, ever since the release of Radeon 9700 from the most simplistic view nothing really groundbreaking has changed besides the paradoxal effect called performance. This is probably also why the 9700 series was such a tremendous success, it was way ahead of it's time and even today offers great value for the money.
Guru's let's have a technological view at the current 'x' series product from ATI. And I refuse to put the x600 in there, if you buy that one I'll slap you with the new 6-pin power cable for graphics cards. Oh one card is missing... ATI announced a *cough* 512 MB model of their x850 XT. Same specs otherwise!
Type Radeon X700 Pro Radeon X700 XT Radeon X800 Pro Radeon X800 XL Radeon X800 XT Radeon X800 XT Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition Radeon X850 XT Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition codename RV410 RV410 R420 R430 R420 R423 R423 R480 R480 Interface PCI-Express x16 PCI-Express x16 AGP PCI-Express x16 AGP PCI-Express x16 AGP/PCI-Express x16 PCI-Express x16 PCI-Express x16 Frame Buffer 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB Core Freq 425 MHz 475 MHz 475 MHz 400 MHz 500 MHz 500 MHz 520 MHz 520 MHz 540 MHz Memory Freq 433 MHz 525 MHz 450 MHz 500 MHz 500 MHz 500 MHz 560 MHz 540 MHz 590 MHz Memory Controller 128 bit 128 bit 256 bit 256 bit 256 bit 256 bit 256 bit 256 bit 256 bit Memory type GDDR3 GDDR3 GDDR3 GDDR3 GDDR3 GDDR3 GDDR3 GDDR3 GDDR3 DirectX 9.0 9.0 9.0 9.0 9.0 9.0 9.0 9.0 9.0 Vertex Shaders 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 Pixel Shaders 2.0b 2.0b 2.0b 2.0b 2.0b 2.0b 2.0b 2.0b 2.0b Vertex Shader Pipes 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 Pixel Shader Pipes 8 8 12 16 16 16 16 16 16 Extra Power-connector - - Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Chip - Transistors 120 mln 120 mln 160 mln 160 mln 160 mln 160 mln 160 mln 160 mln 160 mln Chip - Fab Process 110 nm 110 nm 130 nm 110 nm 130 nm 130 nm 130 nm 130 nm 130 nm
Right then, the Radeon x800 XL sits in-between the mid-range x700 series and the high-end x800XT/850XT range, therefore initially I expected it would have 12 pixel pipelines to compete directly with NVIDIA's 12-pipe GeForce 6800, I was wrong, it's actually a 16 pipeline product at the same price level. There will be a 12 pipe solution for sure, it's called x800, I have yet to find it in retail though.
So why is this 16 pixel pipelined puppy performance wise somewhat slower then the top of the line then? The answer can be found in two factors. First off, the cheaper 0.11 micron build does not allow a significantly high core speed (at this time). We are looking at 400 MHz where the 0.13 micron 850 XT PE manages 540 MHz. Secondly, somewhat cheaper memory was used. The XL is using (2x)493 MHz and that XT PE uses (2x)590 MHz.
$ffffffffff Display adapter information
$0000000000 Description : RADEON X800 Series
$0000000001 Vendor ID : 1002 (ATI)
$0000000002 Device ID : 554d
$0000000003 Location : bus 5, device 0, function 0
$0000000004 Bus type : PCI
$0000000009 Base address 0 : d0000000 (memory range)
$000000000a Base address 1 : none
$000000000b Base address 2 : e1000000 (memory range)
$000000000c Base address 3 : none
$000000000d Base address 4 : 0000c000 (I/O range)
$000000000e Base address 5 : none
$ffffffffff ATI specific display adapter information
$0900000000 Graphics core : R430 (16x1)
$0900000002 Memory bus : 256-bit
$0900000001 Memory type : unknown
$0900000003 Memory amount : 256MB
$0900000004 Core clock : 398.250MHz
$0900000005 Memory clock : 492.750MHz (985.500MHz effective)
Other then that there really is not much differentiation, feature wise, between the entire Radon lineup. So you see, this is a somewhat caged VPU (graphics core) that would like to do more then it is allowed to. Keep this in mind when we will show you the overclocking results. 3D Feature wise this new R430 part does not differ from the x800 series or x850, except from what we heard some Power Management features and Thermal Throttling capabilities. Nothing really notable though.
The Board - The Bundle
What's in the box? Well, the bundle is as always fantastic, HiS is paying attention to the total package, we see a lot of software bundled as this is a seriously impressive package. That does translate a tad on the pricing though. We received the Platinum Edition, which includes a very nice software bundle. Let's have a look:
- FlatOut (the full game)
- Microsoft Dungeon Siege Full
- PowerDirector 3 SE Plus
- Power2Go 4
- 3D Album PicturePro
- S-Video Cable
- RCA Cable
- Conversion connecter Mini-Din to RCA
- HDTV Output cable
- DVI to VGA Adaptor
You will also receive some trial software, which can be found on a bonus CD. Think PowerDVD, MediaShow and I think I even saw some of ATI demo's on there.
Next to the card itself we see a plethora of cables in the form of S-Video cable, DVI to CRT/VGA adapter so that you are able to hook up 2 CRT VGA monitors to your card. Also quite important, a HDTV cable. Connect the card to a nice LCD or Plasma screen and you can play HDTV games or playback movies on that big screen. Quite lovely.
The card itself then. It's quite hard to determine real changes at PCB level over the reference model XL as the cooler is blocking my view! I can tell you though that HiS is following reference design precisely. The trick however is faster memory and the cooling technology, which is called IceQ-II.
What more does the eye catch? That's right, did you spot it already? No external PSU connector is needed. Apparently the chip does feed itself 100% from the PCI-Express bus and does not need additional power from the power supply. Woohoo, one cable down... 15 more to go :)
The card has two output connectors, one DVI and one CRT/VGA connector. In the middle we see the traditional video output connector, in this case the card was not equipped with the Rage Theater chip and thus does not have an optional video input through that same connector.
ICeQ II Cooling
I know that this text is getting a little standard, but hey .. it's the same cooler based on IceQ-II technology seen at previous reviews.
The II of course refers to the newer model IceQ technology compared over the cooler that the HiS 9800 series used. The cooling solution itself actually is manufactured and designed by Artic cooling, that's not exactly a secret.
IceQ-II despite having the size of a whale, rocks. The IceQ-II cooling system uses the air inside your PC case and exhausts warm air outside the case, this is a huge plus as the videocards these days can get quite hot. With normal cooling heat will warm up the ambient temperature of your PC's inside and cascade the effect by warming up other components. The IceQ-II technology helps prevent this as that heat is exhausted outside the PC.
IceQ-II by itself does not only refer to the cooler though, it's more then that, the entire package with it's advantages. Based on the graphics core temperature the fan is rotating either faster or slower (RPM) to maintain noise levels acceptable. But to be honest, even when it's at 100% the noise is hardly noticeable.
HiS states that this cooling will bring you an 11 °C lower cooling temperature compared to the reference cooling solution. I dare to state it's even better then 11 Degrees C. When measuring the temperature at the back of the card on this x800 XL the GPU remained at sub 55 Degrees C at 100% GPU utilization. That's quite an accomplishment.
Also part of IceQ-II technology is cooling the cards memory, in the photoshoot later on be sure to look at the backside as the memory on there is covered by a big metal shim.
Temperature wise the cooling design works quite well. At idle, normal operation expect ~42 Degrees C. At 100% VPU utilization we measured just a 54 Degrees C temperature. That's extraordinary good.
100% Stressed Graphics core temperature monitoring, Idle ~ 42 and only 54 Degrees C in 100% utilization.
Every angle HiS is looking at with this product got attention from them. Oh hey, I almost forgot. The plastic casing of the cooler is UV sensitive, quite lovely in a nice case-mod.
In the software bundle we also find a new overclocking tool that HiS developed over the past few months. It's the first time ever that they introduced it and I expect to see further development of this tool in upcoming products. Basically the idea is this, push a button and your card is overclocked within HiS defined limits.
After installing just click on the tray icon to startup iTurbo.
By pressing the iTurbo button within a flash the frequency of the core jumps from ATi's reference 398 MHz to 432 MHz and the memory from 493 to 500. Although that is not a massive overclock this will definitely bring the overall performance up.
The iTurbo software we recieved has passed its beta stages and is fully usable. It is very promising overclocking software. This is overclocking for the people that never do that, yet now they can in a safe and HiS certified manner. Usually I don't have anything good to say about included overclocking tools as the novice user can seriously damage a card, but this time, well let's just say that HiS did it right and they are one of the very few manufacturers out there that accomplished that.
iTurbo has a very good opportunity in becoming a substantial success as this is a really easy to use and well developed concept. In short, I like it.
I Demand Powerrrr
What you also need to realize is you will likely require a new higher-powered power supply, as twice the fun is twice your power bill.
The power draw was relatively low though. With an Athlon 64 4000+ based system with two HD's, a DVD-Rom, 512 MB memory in-game the PC pulled a maximum of roughly 240 Watt. You need some reserve though. So don't go thinking that a 300 Watt PSU is sufficient. Btw and before you go thinking, yeah right how on earth does he know that. Simple we have a Wattage meter between the PC and the power outlet.
The total system used a max of 239 Watt, not at all bad.
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