It has been a long time coming for ATI fans. The R520
Architecture and the Crossfire technology have been little more than
rumors for months. Now with the holiday shopping season knocking on out
doors, ATI has finally released the next generation Radeon; The X1000
series. Thanks to Gigabyte, we were able to get our hands on a shiny
new X1800 XL. Will the much delayed X1800 Series be the NVIDIA killer
we have waited for? Lets see what this baby can do!
The Gigabyte packaging is both attractive and
informative. The box is also much bigger than your standard graphics
card box measuring in at just over 10.5 x 13 x 3 inches. The next
generation graphics war will be fought for shelf space as well.
Of course with a features list longer than your arm,
some of that space is needed to address the major improvements over the
X800 Series cards. Don't worry about the fine print, we will cover the
major changes before we are done.
Gigabyte does not disappoint with packaging, and the
X1800 XL is no exception. Everything is packed snugly inside.
A little digging in reveals an abundance of cabling
and our first look at the card its-self.
The X1800 XL ships with all the cabling you need to
connect to any standard video connector. The cabling includes a 12 Volt
power adapter, a S-Video cable, an RCA adapter and a set of audio/Video
adapters for the VIVO functionality. Even a DVI-I to D-Sub adapter has
Our review sample came with the optional software
bundle. Included titles are: Counter Strike: Condition Zero, XR xpand
rally, CyberLink Power Director 3 and CyberLink PowerDVD 6. The
estimated value of the software bundle is $190. Gigabyte has done a
nice job of including software you might actually use, or even buy. I
know I will be putting Condition Zero through the paces!
The Gigabyte X1800 XL
The ATI Reference design
The Gigabyte X1800 XL card continues the theme
introduced by the packaging. It seems every card has a pretty anime
mascot these days. The card is based on the ATI reference board design
shown here. Unlike the ATI version X1800 design, the Gigabyte design
does not require an additional slot for the cooling system.
Nothing to see here. The actual size of the card is
about 9.5 x 4.5 inches.
The X 1800 XL has the typical set of DVI plugs and a
S-Video like VIVO plug. More on VIVO in a moment.
From the back end you can see the all copper heatsink
system Gigabyte has chosen to keep this monster cool. Notice the copper
fins are kept very thin to allow for maximum surface area. With ATI's
move to a 90nm core layout, the heat has become much more controllable.