Noise, Power Consumption, Overclocking, 2D Quality
Being a copy of the reference RADEON X1800 XL, the Sapphire card has absolutely the same acoustic characteristics. The cooler’s fan works at a reduced speed most of the time and is rather quiet at that, although audible on our open testbed. If the GPU temperature becomes too high, the intelligent fan-speed control system automatically increases its speed and noise, but this is unlikely to happen if your system case is well ventilated.
The power consumption of the RADEON X1800 XL was measured in our earlier reviews. It is 60W when a hard 3D application is running. We also measured the consumption of the Sapphire RADEON X1800 XL in two 2D modes: 1) in office applications and 2) under a very high load created by the 2D Transparent Windows test from PCMark05. The power consumption turned to be 44W in the first test and 49.7W in the second test, which was still below 60W the card consumed in 3D mode. The numbers are normal, considering that the maximum consumption of the GeForce 7800 GT is about 55-56W.
Our apprehensions about low overclockability of the Sapphire RADEON X1800 XL came true. We only managed to lift the GPU clock rate up to 560MHz and this seems to be the overclockability limit of all RADEON X1800 XL on the early revision of the R520 chip. The GPU frequency of the RADEON X1800 XT 512MB, 625MHz, is unlikely to be achieved on a RADEON X1800 XL. The memory failed our expectations, too. It was stable at 650 (1300), although is rated for 700 (1400) MHz. We probably could have done better by using a more advanced cooling system, but after all we didn’t want to carry out extreme overclocking tests on the card.
The 2D image quality provided by the Sapphire card was as usual high in all video modes up to the maximum of 1800x1440@75Hz that our Dell P1110 and P1130 monitors support. We noticed no fuzziness or shadowing or any other undesired visual artifacts.