On 5th October, ATI announced the top to bottom lineup of products making up the Radeon X1000 family. Despite every product being announced, only three models were listed to be available on the day of launch: Radeon X1800XL, Radeon X1300 Pro and Radeon X1300. However, there was a lack of availability of these products on launch day and it took until the 10th for stock to arrive at Newegg, and another three days before stock arrived in the UK.
We covered the performance of Sapphire's Radeon X1800XL in the middle of last month, while also explaining the technology behind the new X1000-series products. Many enthusiasts have Radeon X1800XL's in their systems now, but many were waiting for the Radeon X1800XT, which started shipping on 2nd November in the USA, and arrived in the UK a week later.
Yesterday, we managed to get hold of the final version of ATI's Catalyst 5.11 drivers, which will be released later today. Today, we are going to evaluate the gaming experience delivered by ATI's Radeon X1800XT with the newly released Catalyst 5.11 drivers, containing fixes that are said to improve performance in games using OpenGL when running at high resolutions with Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering turned on.
Cooling Solution: Unlike the Radeon X1800XL, the Radeon X1800XT uses a dual-slot heatsink/fan combination that exhausts the hot air out of the back of the case. The card gets as warm as the GeForce 7800 GTX, and is subjectively a little bit louder than the GTX. The air being exhausted out through the backplate can get quite warm - we'd recommend not putting your hand near the exhaust during a heavy gaming session.
The fan is a very similar design to the one used on most Radeon X850XT video cards, but appears to be quieter than the older design. The fan is a variable speed During our gaming evaluations, we didn't notice the fan spin up to its highest setting and noise was generally very tolerable.
The main portion of the heatsink is copper, and the fins are actually a part of the base, unlike some previous heatsink designs we've seen. The heatsink's cover is made of high density plastic, with the fan enclosure made from clear plastic. There's also a smaller heatsink covering some of the voltage regulators towards the 6-pin PCI-Express supplementary power adapter.
Clock Speeds: ATI's Radeon X1800XT comes clocked at impressive clock speeds of 625/1500MHz, and features the same pipeline layout as the Radeon X1800XL. There are sixteen pixel pipelines, eight vertex shaders, and the R520 core is capable of writing sixteen pixels per clock. For a full run down on the architecture behind R520, please read our Sapphire Radeon X1800XL review.
Under the heatsink there is eight 64MB 1.2ns Samsung DRAMs rated to 800MHz (1600MHz DDR) with a 2.0v input voltage - there's a little room for overclocking in them and we wonder whether any of ATI's board partners will ship with increased memory clock speeds. The memory chips are cooled directly by the video cards' heatsink using thermal pads. Under the fan enclosure, there is an ATI Rage Theater 200 chip for Video-In Video-Out functionalities.
Outputs: Much like the Radeon X1800XL, the X1800XT features dual dual-link DVI ports driven by the internal TMDS transmitters. This means that it is possible to drive two of the very desirable high-resolution Apple 30" Cinema displays with a single Radeon X1800XT video card. Along with that, there is a VIVO port to accompany the ATI Rage Theater 200 chip.