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ATI Radeon X1800 XT & XL

ATI has also implemented 10-bit colour support – something that I haven’t seen from any manufacturer other than Matrox. Of course the problem with 10-bit colour support is that most monitors are supporting fewer colours these days, rather than more. In a drive for ever lower response rates, most TFT monitors hitting the streets have gone back to 6-bit panels from 8-bit ones - so it may be some time before 10-bit screens become common.

High definition video is also high on ATI’s tick box list, and the Avivo functionality present in the X1800 offers H.264 acceleration, so you should be able to watch HD movies shipped on Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs – when they finally appear of course.

But let’s take a look a the cards themselves. The Radeon X1800 XT is a big card, much like the X850 XT before it. We’re talking a two slot solution here, with the second backing plate housing a grille that expels the hot air – of which there is a great deal. Despite the large fan pumping hot air out of the system, the card gets very hot in operation – although to be fair I didn’t have it in a system case, so the cooling wasn’t as efficient as it could have been.

One thing that many journalists commented on was how loud the X1800 XT was, although I didn’t notice it being much louder than an X850 XT – not that the X850 XT is a quiet card by any means, but I generally don’t hear mine when I’m playing a game with my headphones on.

As already mentioned, you get twin dual link DVI ports, so dual monitor support is available up to stupid resolutions. I’ll be trying to get a 30in screen back in from Apple, just to see what gaming at 2,560 x 1,600 looks like! The X1800 XT will ship in both 256MB and 512MB configurations – the cards that were available in Ibiza were the 512MB models.

I didn’t get to take an X1800 XT home with me, but I ran a decent amount of numbers while I was in Ibiza. Unfortunately the monitors that ATI supplied maxed out at 1,600 x 1,200 so I couldn’t push the card as far as I would have liked. There was a 30in Apple display there, but ATI wouldn't let me use it for high resolution testing.

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