ATI X1800 CrossFire Video Card Review

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What is Crossfire?

While ATI’s first generation Crossfire platform proved ATI could offer a dual video card solution to gaming enthusiasts it was based on a core that was dated and had a number of issuses when it came to resolutions. The second generation of Crossfire cards is based on the R520 core, which is still the flagship GPU for ATI and packed with the latest X1K series features that we talked about in our ATI X1000 Series Video Card Roundup that LR published last month.

ATI X1800 XT/XL Crossfire Test System

Crossfire is ATI’s response to NVIDIA?s popular SLI platform. It allows, by using a secondary video card and a dual PCI-E motherboard based on ATI’s new Xpress 200 chipset or Intel’s current chipsets, the ability to combine the power of the two video cards to increase performance through a variety of different rendering options.

What we need for Crossfire to work:

  • Crossfire enabled motherboard: Radeon Xpress 200 Crossfire Edition and Intel i945X/i955X/i975X based dual-slot motherboards are supported platforms.
  • 2 Crossfire ready graphics cards: For the X1800 series you will need an X1800XL, X1800XT 256, or X1800XT 512 along with the X1800 Crossfire edition with external dongle. The X1300 and X1600 series don?t need a master card and dongle because they can simply communicate through the PCI-E bus. So you might ask what?s different between the regular X1800XT and the X1800 Crossfire edition. Single card performance is the same but physically the card layout is a little different. X1800 Crossfire includes an external Y-cable, or dongle, to connect the two cards together.

ATI CrossFire X1800 Dongle

Looking at the connectors we have a dual link DVI and the connector for the Crossfire cable. You can still connect two monitors to the card while not Crossfire mode using the supplied dongle.

The specifications of the Crossfire edition are the same as the X1800XT, 625MHz GPU and 1.5GHz memory. It comes with 512MB of memory, no 256MB models here. All X1800 models need this card for Crossfire; there are no other XL or XT models. In the case of the 1800XL or the 256MB 1800XT, hooking those up in Crossfire will disable half of the memory of the master card to match them. Maybe this isn?t the best solution and is something to keep in mind if you are thinking of going this route. The Crossfire edition carries an MSRP of $599.

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