Recently I looked at a PCI Express version of nVidia's GeForce 6800 Ultra from Leadtek. While not a new card, the availability of a PCI Express version was reason enough to take a look at it and the same applies to this Sapphire Radeon X800.
When the X800 originally launched, there was actually no vanilla version – just the X800 Pro. Based on the R420 this was a 12 pixel pipeline card built on a 0.13 micron process. The X800 however, is an R430 - a 12-pipeline card produced on a 0.11 micron process. While this enables clock speeds to be ramped up, the X800 is actually lower clocked, at 390MHz for the GPU and 350MHz (700MHz effective) for the memory. Instead consumers can enjoy the benefits of greater availability and lower prices and it’s still higher than the 325/700MHz specs of the regular GeForce 6800.
Essentially, the 16 pipelines on a R430 is set out in quads - if one of the four isn’t quite up to scratch it becomes a X800. Though it has ‘only’ 12 pixel pipelines it has a full six vertex shaders and of course, supports X800 features such as 3Dc.
There’s 256MB of GDDR3 memory on board, which compares favourably to its nVidia equivalnt card, the standard GeForce 6800, most of which have only 128MB of memory
As is standard for cards in this class the X800 sports a VGA and a DVI connector, with a VGA dongle adaptor included in the box. There a TV Out with a cable providing either S-Video or composite out. The cost saving compared to more powerful cards means there’s no video in, so you can’t use it as a capture card. However, it’s lower power requirements means that it doesn’t require an external power connector. Indeed the VPU is also covered by a relatively modest looking heatsink and fan arrangement, which in turn means that noise levels won’t be too excessive.
The card is available in a full retail version which includes the full version of Price of Persia, Cyberlink’s PowerDVD and Red Line's overclocking utility. There’s also an OEM ‘lite’ version without these extras.
Testing on our soon to be retired graphics tested of a 3.46GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition I were able to compare with our previously reviewed X800 XL and the X800 XT Platinum Edition, enabling you to see at a glance what your money gets you from ATI’s current X800 range.