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Conclusion

The Sapphire RADEON X1800 XL is a well-made product overall and the option of choosing two games out of the four gaming hits included makes it the more appealing. The only complaint about the accessories we can think of is that there is no second DVI-I → D-Sub adapter. Otherwise, this is the same RADEON X1800 XL with all its highs and lows: with high performance in games with very complex pixel shaders, with a compact cooler, but with relatively high power consumption and low OpenGL performance. As for the new version of Catalyst, it has regrettably brought no performance boost, except in some rare cases like Quake 4.

The card is still slower than the GeForce 7800 GT in OpenGL games, excepting the same Quake 4, as well as in games where high fill rate or efficient execution of many simple shaders is necessary. In other words, no miracle has happened and the RADEON X1800 XL remains just as it was – representing ATI’s approach to building a new-generation GPU.

And still the Sapphire RADEON X1800 XL may have something to show us in the future, mainly because the complexity of pixel shaders is going to increase and shaders with dynamic branching are going to become more widely employed, thus allowing this graphics card to show its best. The hardware decoding of H.264 video may also be an appealing option for some users.

So if you are not interested in flight simulators and in OpenGL-using games, but want a high-performance and future-proof graphics card, the Sapphire RADEON X1800 XL 256MB may be just what you need.

Highs:

  • The highest performance in games that use complex pixel shaders
  • High performance with FSAA and anisotropic filtering enabled
  • Supports transparency antialiasing
  • Supports hardware decoding of H.264, HD WMV and other video formats
  • Efficient Shader Model 3.0 implementation
  • Single-slot cooling system
  • Quiet operation
  • You can choose any two games out of the included four

Lows:

  • Generally slower than the GeForce 7800 GT
  • Low performance in OpenGL and some other applications
  • Poor overclockability
  • Only one DVI-I → D-Sub adapter included
 
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