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Testing /Verdict

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Removing the graphics module is actually a lot easier than we were expecting. First the CPU heatsink, held on by four spring-loaded screws, had to be removed. Removing the module meant dealing with another four screws. This makes for 19 screws in total for the entire operation - not bad at all.
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On the left you can see the X1800 XT module. Visually, it's identical to the 7800 GTX as the cooling system is the same. What was most surprising though, was how small the heatsink was cooling the Pentium M – especially as this notebook is overclocked!

Testing

Tests were run using Call of Duty 2, Quake 4, Counter-Strike: Source using intensive time demos recorded in-house. We also ran 3DMark05 and 3DMark06. In the case of CS:S, the demo was recorded on the Militia map which uses the same HDR technology as seen in Half Life 2: Lost Coast. All tests were run three times and the averages were taken to remove anomalous data from the results.

We ran all the tests at 1,280 x 1,024, 1,600 x 1,200, 1,920 x 1,200 each at 0x FSAA with trilinear filtering, 2x FSAA with 4x AF and 4x FSAA with 8x AF.

Results

Results were surprisingly straightforward, with few surprises. These can be seen for yourself on the next page. 3DMark05 showed a huge difference, putting the X1800 XT significantly ahead – casting doubt on the real life usage of this benchmark. 3DMark06 however, painted a better picture with very close results. Of course, the 7800 GTX can't use FSAA when running in a full precision HDR mode – hence the zero 3DMarks in most of the 3DMark06 tests.

In all the game tests though, the 7800 GTX just edged out the X1800 XT, but not significantly enough to influence a buying decision.


Verdict

ATI has produced an excellent competitor to the 7800 GTX. It is consistently slightly slower than the GO 7800 GTX but performance is still similar. With more HDR games coming out the inability to run FSAA will be a factor in the next few months but then again the performance on offer here won't really be enough to run with both enabled anyway at higher resolutions. That said, depsite NVIDIA's slight performance lead here, on image quality and features we'd go with the ATI solution if speccing up a notebook.

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