The AX800 PRO/TD seems to be a copy of the reference design of the RADEON X800 PRO/XT as developed by ATI (see our article called ATI RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition and RADEON X800 PRO: Closer Look for more details). This is really so, save for a few minor details:
As you see, the cooling system employed by ASUS is somewhat larger than the reference one and seems to cool the memory chips as well as the GPU. Well, that’s not so. There’s no thermal interface between the heat-spreader’s sole and the GDDR3 chips, although it would be of some help. The fan is not black as on the ordinary RADEON X800 PRO (XT) but transparent and its blades are highlighted with four bright-blue LEDs, much liked by every modder on this planet. The lacquer that covers the PCB also has a different color than ATI’s traditional bright red. Here, the card is rather subdued red or even orange.
So why wasn’t ASUS inventive this time, like it was with the RADEON 9800 XT? The answer is simple: the company just had no time to certify its own PCB design since ATI Technologies started mass production of the new generation of RADEONs very quickly this time around.
Well, there’s nothing wrong with the reference design – as you know from our RADEON X800 PRO and RADEON X800 XT reviews, it doesn’t need any improvements, maybe save for the cooling system. If ASUS had taken care of the proper cooling of the memory chips, both on the face and back sides of the PCB, we would honestly call their card a perfect solution. Without that, the AX800 PRO/TD is merely a very good product.
Like the reference RADEON X800 PRO card from ATI, the AX800 PRO/TD carries 2.0ns GDDR3 memory from Samsung clocked at 450 (900DDR) MHz. The graphics processor works at the standard 475MHz frequency, too.
Noise, Overclocking and 2D Image Quality
The noise, or rather the lack of it, was a pleasant surprise: this graphics card remained silent most of the time. Only after working for a while under a load, it would increase the cooler’s speed. Well, even in this case the noise level was low – you just heard a soft rustling sound. Thus, the AX800 PRO receives our honors for its noise characteristics.
Overclocking was less enjoyable. Starting at 550/1100MHz, we soon had to roll back to 515/1000MHz – although we had installed an additional 120mm blower, the VPU Recover function stopped working at these frequencies only. Probably the hot weather that day played its negative role – the card didn’t even work at 500/970MHz without the additional blower. A water-cooling system might have helped, but we had none at hand.
The quality of the 2D image as outputted by the card was excellent, crystal-sharp in all resolutions supported by our Dell P1110 monitor (i.e. up to 1800x1440@75Hz). Last time we saw such a good picture it was outputted by the ASUS V9950, so the company maintains its reputation as a supplier of high-quality goods.
Now, a few games and numbers to complete the review.