Articles: Graphics

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Closer Look

The PowerColor X850 XT doesn’t differ from the reference ATI RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition (for more details about this solution read our article called ATI RADEON X850 Platinum Edition: Good Things Go Better); we’ve got the same PCB and dual-slot cooling system here.


The only difference is that there’s a colorful sticker on the casing of the heatsink. Otherwise, the cards are fully identical. The dual-slot cooler from ATI Technologies promises high cooling efficiency at a relatively low noise, while the Rage Theater chip gives you the opportunity to input and output video signal, capturing it and editing it with the enclosed video-processing tools.

Like the original ATI RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition, the PowerColor X850 XT carries 1.6ns memory from Samsung. It means the memory is capable to work at 600 (1200DDR) MHz), but it is actually clocked at 540 (1080DDR) MHz frequency which is the standard for the RADEON X850 XT. The graphics processor works at 520MHz, which is standard, too. Let’s try to overclock the PowerColor X850 XT to the frequencies of the Platinum Edition? It looks like nothing could prevent us from actually doing it.

Noise, Overclocking and 2D Quality

Using the standard cooler, the PowerColor card is as loud as the reference RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition. The fan works at its full speed the first few seconds after you start up the computer, reminding the notorious GeForce FX 5800 Ultra. But about five seconds after the start, the card reduces the speed of the fan – the noise doesn’t vanish completely, but becomes much quieter. The graphics card never increased the speed of its fan back to the full during our tests, so the PowerColor X850 XT remained practically inaudible against the noise from other system components.

As for overclocking, we did manage to speed this card up to the level of the RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition and even higher: the maximum stable frequencies of the PowerColor card were 560MHz GPU and 630 (1260DDR) MHz memory. At higher frequencies the card would produce various visual artifacts in 3DMark03.

We can say nothing bad about the quality of the 2D image produced by the card – it was crystal-sharp in all resolutions up to 1800x1440@75Hz. Unfortunately, our test monitors don’t support higher resolutions at pretty high refresh rate. Then, this graphics card is equipped with two DVI-I outputs and is thus intended to work with two LCD displays attached via the digital interface in which case there’s no such problem as 2D quality at all. We think there’s a high probability that the purchaser of such an expensive graphics card also owns or is going to buy soon a high-quality LCD monitor with a diagonal of 17” or 19”. The next section of this review is all about the speed characteristics of the two graphics cards from PowerColor.

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