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Sapphire X800 XL


Author:  Jason Jacobs
Date:  2005.05.02
Topic:  Video
Provider:  Sapphire
Manufacturer:  Sapphire







The Video Card Market
Currently the video card market is extremely competitive and shows no signs of changing. With consumers ready to purchase for needs from standard office computing to high end gaming the manufacturers have a product to meet any and all needs. Prices for high end video cards have seen all time highs recently as manufacturers have been creating ever higher performing products. Is there an end in sight? Is there even a plateau within reach? A better question is where do consumers strike the balance between performance and price, and where is the product that meets that need?

The Contenders
ATI and Nvidia have released quite a few GPU's all at different clock speeds and memory speeds, as well as varying the pipeline handicaps and enabling or disabling features to adjust price. Consumers are easily lost in the fray of part names and features. So what does Techwarelabs look for when considering a video card? The short answer . . A card which delivers high end performance at a low cost. No marketing gimmiks here folks, thats simply what all of us want. Now lets take a quick look at current product offerings:

Nvidia
ATI
High: 6800
High: X850
Mid: 6600
Mid: X700
Low: 6200
Low: X300

This is an overgeneralization of the video card market at this time. Each of the cards above comes in different flavors but will generally offer the performance associated with its cooresponding number. Each manufacturer has attempted to deliver a card which delivers good performance at a good price, today we will take a look at an offering from Sapphire which resells video cards based on ATI GPU's. The X800XL sent to us by Sapphire is placed in the upper mid range by its X800 class. Lets take a look at the specifications from Sapphire.

  • 256MB of GDDR3 memory
  • 256-bit memory interface
  • 16 parallel pixel pipelines
  • PCI Express x16 lane native support
  • Dual display support
  • Dual integrated 400MHz DAC's
  • 2048x1536 @ 85Hz Maximum Resolution
  • S-Video TV-out port
  • Full support for DirectX® 9.0 and the latest OpenGL® 2.0 functionality
  • SMARTSHADER™ HD technology
  • SMOOTHVISION™ HD technology
  • 3Dc™ High quality 4:1 Normal Map Compression delivers beautiful scenes without the performance hit.
  • Unique VIDEOSHADER™ HD engine uses programmable pixel shaders to accelerate video processing and provide better-looking visuals
  • HYPER Z™ HD is optimized for performance at high display resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions.

As you can see this is a full featured video card from ATI that shares many features of its high end cousin the X850. The X800XL has all its pipelines enabled, a 256-bit memory interface, and 256MB of GDDR3. These are the same features that at a high clock speed, give the X850 its stunning performance. The X800XL also sports dual display support, and the new PCI-Express x16 native support. As for the price, the Sapphire X800XL can be found online for a relatively low price of $269 while the base model X850 has a starting price of $368 nearly $100 higher. For most consumers the high end X850 XT will give heart palpitations at $523.

While $269 is a much lower price its still a large ammount of money, lets see what you get for your money.



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