Although the X800 cards support 3Dc, they don’t support Shader Model 3.0, whereas the GeForce 6800 series of cards do. How much of an issue this turns out to be still remains to be seen, but it’s one of the many weapons that will no doubt be used in the ongoing graphics card battle. Of course as shader instructions become longer and more complicated, the use of Shader Model 3.0 will become more prevalent, but it’s still hard to say when this will actually happen.
As far as performance goes this card sits neatly between the Gainward PowerPack! CoolFX Ultra running at 450MHz core and 600MHz memory (1.2GHz effective) and the Sapphire Radeon X800 Pro. Of course the standard clock speeds for a GeForce 6800 Ultra are 400MHz core and 550MHz for the memory (1.1GHz effective), but both the retail cards we’ve looked at so far have run at least 450MHz core and 600MHz for the memory. That said, there are some more GeForce 6800 Ultra cards in the labs right now running stock speeds, so it will be interesting to see how they measure up to this X800 XT.
You can see from the graphs that the this X800 XT can’t quite keep up with a GeForce 6800 Ultra running at the slightly faster 450MHz/1.2GHz settings. In fact it’s only in the older 3DMark 2001 SE where the X800 XT pulls ahead of the GeForce 6800 Ultra. Now even though the Gainward card is a very expensive watercooled solution, the XFX GeForce 6800 Ultra was a standard air cooled card and ran at similar speeds. What you can also see is that this card is reassuringly quicker than the Sapphire Radeon X800 Pro, showing that the ATI product line is performing exactly as it’s supposed to.
Connect3D has avoided the trend among graphics card manufacturers to ship its cards in massive oversized boxes. Instead this Radeon X800 XT ships in a box that’s just big enough to house the card and the cables, which in my opinion is no bad thing. Continuing this frugal ethos, Connect3D also doesn’t bother to ship any games in the box, which again isn’t a bad idea, since most enthusiasts have already got the games they want to play and will resent paying for software that they don’t need.
Of course cutting back on the packaging and the bundled software is only worth while if the saving is passed onto the customer, and thankfully that’s exactly what Connect3D has done. With a street price of £315.99 from Dabs this card looks like a bit of a bargain when it comes to high-end graphics solutions. Of course it’s still not cheap, but it’s a fair bit cheaper than much of the competition. If you’ve got your heart set on an X800 XT card, the Connect3D definitely looks like the one to go for. It may not have the snazzy packaging or games bundles, but it performs exactly as you’d expect it to and costs less that you might have thought.
Not only is the Connect3D Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition the first retail X800 XT board I’ve seen, but it’s also a bit of a bargain. OK, so a GeForce 6800 Ultra clocked at 450MHz is a faster card, but it also draws loads more power and won’t fit in a small form factor box. With this Connect3D board you’ve got a cutting edge graphics card that’s flexible enough to go in any type of system and won’t break the bank – what more could you ask for?