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This is our first review of a new graphics card for some time, we're starting afresh here with benchmarks and games so bare with me as I'm trying to get every possible piece of information I can for what you readers of ActiveWin will want out of a graphics card.
The RADEON® X800 graphics technology set a new standard in graphics performance and visual realism. With up to 16 pipelines, higher clock speeds and breakthrough image enhancement technology, RADEON® X800 Graphics Technology introduced a whole new gaming category called High-Definition Gaming.
Breakthrough Image Quality
Technologically Advanced 3D Architecture
Cutting Edge Video Technology
DirectX® 9.0 Leadership Continues
Stability is the foundation of the RADEON® X800
The package came with the following:
Doom 3 has become one of the more used benchmarks for graphics cards since its recent release, it shows off the great power that the graphics engine has, although the gameplay leaves a little to be desired. Once more ID has used OpenGL in the game, this is where ATI lacks a bit of power, although most gamers won't really notice it, those that want the increased FPS will.
Doom 3 1280x1024 High Detail
Doom 3 1600x1200 High Detail
Farcry is easily one of the best titles released this year, and that is saying something when you consider it has been up against the likes of Doom 3 and Half Life 2. Graphically in my personal view this is the 2nd best looking game out right now, just one behind Half Life 2 and Farcry is so good looking on an ATI card you'll be well happy with the results.
Farcry 1280x1024 Ultra Detail - Athlon 64 3800+
Farcry 1280x1024 Ultra Detail - Athlon 64 3000+
Half Life 2 was one of the most sought after titles ever released when it came out last month and I am glad to say I don't think anyone was disappointed with the game (maybe Steam, but not the game). The graphical performance is as good as I hoped it would be, there are some areas in the game where it does slow down, but not enough to distract from the excellent gameplay on show here. Half Life 2 is probably the best looking title out right now, and with the excellent graphic effects and some great physics on show, it has to be the title you buy to show off a spanking new PC.
Half Life 2 1280x1024 6x Anisotropic 4xAA
X2: The Threat is a great space simulator with a heck of a lot of depth to it, but not only that - it also has some fantastic graphics to boot. The ATI card handles this game really well even when there is a lot of action on the screen at one time.
X2: The Threat Patch 4, With Shadows Enabled at 1280x1024x32
While I don't think much of 3D Mark as a benchmarking tool, nearly ever site that reviews graphics cards seems to included it. As you can see the ATI card does extremely well in the tests.
3D Mark 2003 at 1280x1024x32 - 3D Mark Overall Score
ATI has slowly but shorely taken over Nvidia's reign with their last two card releases and I don't think that anyone can argue that they deserve it. With the release of the X800 GPU they once again moved ahead of the pack in a vast array of games compared to the latest Nvidia Chip and the lack of Pixel Shader version 3 hasn't made the difference that Nvidia stated it would do.
There are many reasons we liked the X800 Pro, the card performs really well and is quite a big upgrade over previous generations of ATI products. It's really fast too even compared to the GeForce 6 range. The card can be overclocked quite easily too which is a big plus for a lot of users. The in-game image quality was excellent and thanks to the excellent Drivers that ATI have been releasing over the last few months the card is really really stable to use.
While the Pro version of the X800 is a slight step down from the excellent XT model, it does very well across most of the tests we have done here at ActiveWin. The Windows performance has been excellent throughout and colors are vivid and clear across both DVI and plain CRT connections. The drivers have been great too, especially thanks to the monthly releases that ATI do and with the excellent VPU recover facility working to stop as many GPU driver crashes as possible (I haven't had a graphical related crash for ages)
Although we have reviewed the AGP version of the card, there are PCI Express versions released too which offer a slightly improved performance, but not as good as anyone expected they could be. I have become a real fan of ATI graphics cards over the past year and hopefully their next release will be as good as this one, while it is a shame that OpenGL performance is not as good as Nvidia cards, it is easy for most of us to overlook as 95% of games are now run through Direct3D and it is here where the ATI cards excel.
So overall we have yet another excellent graphics card from ATI, how long they can lead the field I don't know but competition in this sector of the PC industry is good news for the consumer. While it doesn't have the edge in games like Doom 3 over Nvidia cards, that doesn't really matter as in my opinion that was a highly overrated title that got more coverage than it deserved once more.
Feel free to comment on the review here.