The Sapphire ATI X850 XT PCI-Express Graphics CardMon, Mar 28, 2005 - 12:00 AM
Introducing The Sapphire X850XT
In December of 2004, ATI released their next generation video cards, the X850 series. The ATI X850 series consists of the usual suspects from ATI…the XL, Pro, XT, and XT Platinum Edition. All of the cards in the RADEON X850 series can use the CATALYST? Control Center and have up to 16 pipelines for gaming performance unlike anything seen years ago. Today Legit Reviews will take a look at the Sapphire X850 XT, which happens to be the second fastest video card that ATI offers in their PCI-Express line.
With the graphics industry beginning it’s migration to PCI-Express late last year, ATI’s high end PCI-E X800 XT PE cards were extremely hard to find. The main reason for this was fairly simple, ATI, while trying to get the most possible out of their cards, was overly aggressive with the memory clocks on the X800 XT PE cards. By setting the memory clocks so aggressively (575MHz), ATI was unable to secure enough memory chips that met the higher clock speeds to produce an adequate number of the cards.
With more and more people jumping ship and embracing NVidia’s SLI technology, ATI was forced to release a high end card to protect it’s small market lead of NVidia. ATI basically kept the same design with the X850 line as their X800 line, they simply decided to make the new X850 XT and PE’s more available by lowering the memory clock speeds, updating the core from the R423 that powered the X800 series, to the R480 for the X850 series, and implementing their best cooling solution yet. People hoping for a huge performance boost in the X850 over the X800 will be disappointed as the difference in performance is very small (said to be less than 10%). Curiously, while ATI’s X800 XL card is built upon the .11 micron technology, the X850 line is built upon the more mature .13 micron technology.
The X850 XT we are reviewing today is built on the 0.13-micron process by TSMC. One of the tricks to get the high clock speeds found on these cards is the use of low-k black diamond dielectric. To be specific the X850 XT?s 0.13-micron R480 core runs 120MHz faster than X800 XL, and only 20MHz slower than the X850 XT Platinum Edition. Something else to note is that the X850 XT comes with the full size cooling solution that is found on the X850XT PE. Keep in mind that this video card does require a 300Watt power supply unit and also takes up two slots in the case. If you are looking for a silent video card, the fan used is far from quiet.
- 256MB of GDDR3 memory
- 256-bit memory interface
- 16 parallel pixel pipelines
- PCI Express x16 lane native support
- Dual display support
- Dual integrated 400MHz DAC’s
- 2048×1536 @ 85Hz Maximum Resolution
- S-Video TV-out port
- Full support for DirectX 9.0 and the latest OpenGL 2.0 functionality
- SMARTSHADER? HD technology
- SMOOTHVISION? HD technology
- 3Dc? High quality 4:1 Normal Map Compression delivers beautiful scenes without the performance hit.
- Unique VIDEOSHADER? HD engine uses programmable pixel shaders to accelerate video processing and provide better-looking visuals
- HYPER Z? HD is optimized for performance at high display resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions.
What comes with the Sapphire X850XT video card:
This is the first video card in years that Legit Reviews has looked at that does not come with a game bundle. Usually Sapphire includes in a number of popular tittle games that have been out for some time. Sapphire does include a copy of PowerDVD and Redline, Sapphire?s overclocking utility which is based on Rage3D Tweak utility. The Sapphire X850 XT also comes with all the cables you will need to run the card and hook it up to your television to get some big screen gaming action going for your friends and family.
Now lets test the X850 XT in a variety of configurations and against the XFX 600GT in an SLI configuration. For all the overclockers out there LR will clock the X850 XT to XT Platinum Edition speeds. This will be done to see what kind of performance you’ll get from a dual card solutions, and let you know which card might be the best value for you.