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Conclusion

The response from ATI Technologies to Nvidia’s GeForce 7600 GT appeared quite a success and didn’t require too much struggle and effort: the unused resources of the R520 and the already existing PCB layout gave birth to a new mainstream solution featuring excellent list of specifications and high performance. And ATI didn’t have to develop anything from scratch.

The new Radeon X1800 GTO showed its real best in the same applications where Radeon X1800/X1900 based solution have always been strong, i.e. in games requiring fast pixel shader performance especially with enabled full-screen anti-aliasing. The latter effect is very demanding to the memory subsystem, and such feature as 256-bit memory bus width of the newcomer played a very important role here. GeForce 7600 GT with its 128bit memory bus simply couldn’t compete with the Radeon X1800 GTO here. As usual, ATI solution yielded to its opponent in OpenGL games or those gaming applications that were optimized for GeForce 6/7 architecture.

Besides, Radeon X1800 GTO turned out to be very modest when it came to power consumption: only 48W under full workload. It also boasted acceptable level of noise thanks to a new more efficient cooling solution than the one used on Radeon X1800 XL, and excellent overclocking potential. Especially I terms of GPU overclocking. The latter is actually not surprising at all, because R520 was initially designed to work at frequencies over 625MHz. Although a lot of chips didn’t go through the frequency sort-out procedure, they can still run at a much higher rate than the 500MHz nominal frequency set for Radeon X1800 GTO, which certainly ensures a significant performance boost.

Overclocking potential of Radeon X1800 GTO is slightly held back by the slower graphics memory with 2.0ns access time. However, since this memory communicates with the GPU via the 256bit memory bus, it still ensures higher bandwidth than the memory subsystem of GeForce 7600 GT. The more efficient Ringbus memory controller than the one from Nvidia also contributes to higher memory subsystem bandwidth.

Of course, Radeon X1800 is not absolutely flawless. In particular, it has a much more overloaded PCB than that of GeForce 7600 GT and requires additional power supply. Also remember that the production cost of Radeon X1800 GTO is quite high because of the more complex PCB layout that has been initially developed for more expensive solutions. less options for price reduction – this is the price ATI had to pay for releasing a new mainstream graphics card without much trouble. At the same time, Nvidia GeForce 7600 GT is based on a very simple PCB design and uses a special GPU, so its price may drop down quicker and hence Radeon X1800 GTO may lose its attraction for the end-user in the long run.

Radeon X1800 GTO is going to be replaced with the new ATI RV570 based solutions, so we wouldn’t really worry about the shortage of R520 chips. But in the meanwhile, this graphics card deserves the title of the best solution within $199-$249 price range.

Speaking of the particular Radeon X1800 GTO graphics card from PowerColor that we have reviewed today, I would like to say the following. This graphics card follows the reference design precisely and is a great choice for those who do not hunt for rich accessories bundle and are not willing to pay extra for included games.

Highs:

  • High performance in most applications;
  • High performance with enabled FSAA and anisotropic filtering;
  • Transparent textures anti-aliasing;
  • Great overclocking potential;
  • Allows simultaneous use of FSAA and HDR;
  • VIVO support;
  • H.264 hardware decoding and other HD formats;
  • Low power consumption;
  • Improved cooling system;
  • Dual-link DVI support.

Lows:

  • Low performance in OpenGL and a few other applications;
  • Few accessories bundled with the card.
 
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