ATI has also implemented 10-bit colour support â€“ something that I havenâ€™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 ATIâ€™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 â€“ when they finally appear of course.
But letâ€™s take a look a the cards themselves. The Radeon X1800 XT is a big card, much like the X850 XT before it. Weâ€™re talking a two slot solution here, with the second backing plate housing a grille that expels the hot air â€“ 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 â€“ although to be fair I didnâ€™t have it in a system case, so the cooling wasnâ€™t as efficient as it could have been.
One thing that many journalists commented on was how loud the X1800 XT was, although I didnâ€™t notice it being much louder than an X850 XT â€“ not that the X850 XT is a quiet card by any means, but I generally donâ€™t hear mine when Iâ€™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. Iâ€™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 â€“ the cards that were available in Ibiza were the 512MB models.
I didnâ€™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 couldnâ€™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.