ATI Reference Cards
Although they are surprisingly similar in appearance to the Radeon 9800XT they replace, the similarities shared with the new Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition and Radeon X800 Pro end there. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of these two boards is the number of power connectors present on the PCB. Whereas the trend as of late seems to be toward increasing power consumption with each generation, ATI has managed to actually lower the power consumption with the Radeon X800 Pro. The result are two single-slot boards with a single power connector. SFF users rejoice as you have not been left in the dark with regards to the latest and greatest graphics cards.
Comparing the two new cards side by side, we see that there is no distinguishable difference between their appearances. Each board relies upon the same heatsink assembly and leave their memory modules uncovered.
Moving our attention to the backside of the cards, we see that the only differences between the cards are present on the identification stickers.
Glancing quickly at the images above, one might accidentally mistake these cores as being from a Radeon 9800 XT. In reality, they are somewhat similar though manaufactured on a smaller 0.13u process.
Examining the identification stickers present on the back of each card, we see that each board is referred to as “R420”. Scouring the rest of the printed information, we fail to see any indicators that one board is rated higher than the other. The only clue present here is the revision number and date. Although the X800 Pro is revision 19 and dated for 04/01/04, the X800 XT Platinum Edition is a revision 90 board dated 04/13/04. Should those markings not be enough, an identification tag of “L103” has been noted on the identification sticker.
Detaching the heatsink assembly from the board, we see the reason why these cards are so surprisingly heavy. Made of one slab of solid copper, the heatsink manages to keep temperatures in order despite being very low profile. Examining the base of the heatsink, we see that there is a protruding portion to sit within the VPU spacer and maintain solid contact with the core.
It’s a shame the logo-emblazened top has to be present to control airflow as the base heatsink is somewhat a piece of art. ATI has kept things simple and effective relying upon directed airflow through copper ridges to control temperatures.
Playing no small role in the development of GDDR3, it is no surprise that both new cards feature Samsing GDDR3 modules. Looking closely, we see that the modules used on the X800XT Platinum board are labeled Samsung K4J55323QF-16. A quick visit to the company website confirms that these are 1.667ns GDDR3 modules rated for 600MHz. Given the default memory speeds of 560MHz, we see that there is ample headroom for overclockers to experiment with. Hopefully, some add-in card vendors will take advantage of the faster 1.25ns modules which are rated for an insane 800MHz. Shifting over to the X800 Pro reference board, we find the memory labeled as Samsung K4J55323QF-20. As such, this 2.0ns memory is rated for speeds of 500MHz. With the X800 Pro’s memory running at 450MHz, there should be little trouble getting a little extra bandwidth for free out of these modules.
Here we see ATI’s latest Rage Theater chipset responsible for handling all the multimedia functionality.