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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [05.24.05]
Manufactured by: Gigabyte
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Make no mistake, Gigabyte is riding a fine line when deciding to slap a fanless heatsink on the X800XL and X800. These cores carry 16 and 12 pipes respectively, and both run at 400 MHz. This makes for super hot operation. By our measurements using an external thermal probe, temperatures approached 80 degrees C on both cards.

However, in our days of testing, including a 3dMark 05 stress test loop, we witnessed absolutely no stability issues or artifacting. Just keep in mind that these cards are scorching hot when in use, and take care when uninstalling them. In fact, I burned myself when swapping the cards for testing; I am so used to just shutting the test system down and popping out the card, that I didn't even consider how hot the X800 would be. I'm okay though, don't worry.

One consideration to make is that these cards could potentially raise your case's ambient temperature to undesireable levels. If you are already pushing it with a fanless cooler on an overclocked CPU, throwing in a fanless X800 may be just enough to push it over the edge into instability problems. This is not a sure thing however, and shouldn't be a concern for most people.

As far as overclocking goes - I wouldn't bother. The furtherst I was able to push either card is about 15 MHz on the core, before getting artifacting. And the memory is already near its limits - the furthest I could push it was around 25 MHz. There is huge potential in the X800 though, if you can figure out how to enable those 4 extra pipelines that are sure to be hidden in there. If you can manage that, the memory is already clocked at 980 MHz. Enable those pipes, and you have yourself an X800XL on the cheap. And a silent one at that.

To me, it looks as though ATI was basically forced into expanding their X800 lineup. Looking at the entire lineup, you have the X800, X800XT, X800XL, X800XT Platinum, then you have the X850, X850XT, and the X850XT Platinum. And until now, it was almost impossible to figure out which cards were 'phantom editions' and which were actually available in stores.

I'm sure ATI would have prefered to have 2 or 3 versions of the X800, and some X700's. However, the GeForce 6 series performed so surprizingly well that they were forced to retool their lineup. They scrambled, and things are confusing as hell, but in the end, it was worth it.

We'll look at each card individually.


Price-wise, the X800XL competes with the GeForce 6800. Not the GT, but the plain ol' 6800. We didn't have a 6800 on hand, so we gave the X800XL a bit more of a challenge than expected - the 6800GT.

And in the end, the X800XL managed to handle itself very well against the GT. Things are quite even in 'normal' resolutions and no filtering. But once you turn up the Antialiasing and Anisotropic filtering, the XL pulls ahead. The only clear disadvantage I see is the lack of SM3. This in itself usually isn't a problem, but a lot of games are coming with features like HDR that are only supported by SM3. Of course, HDR isn't automatically tacked onto SM3, but that's the way things are now. If you look at Splinter Cell 3 on the GeForce 6800 GT then the X800XL, you'd think you were looking at 2 different generations of video cards.


The X800 takes over duties from the X700 Pro, as the main competition to the GeForce 6600GT. It has several advantages, such as the fact that the 6600GT only ever comes equipped with 128MB of ram. This normally isn't an issue with a midrange cards, since resoltions are usually meant ot be kept low. However, with the super-fast memory, Gigabyte's X800 has absolutely no problem running at high resolutions and with high levels of filtering. Time after time, the 6600GT simply couldn't keep up.

And HDR is less of an issue here, since clearly the 6600GT doesn't have what it takes to enable HDR in Splinter Cell 3 while maintaining a decent framerate.

Gigabyte has done an amazing jobs on each of these cards. On one hand, you have a card that outperforms a 6800GT for $50 less, and it has absoltely silent cooling to boot. On the other, you have an X800 that manhandles the 6600GT, and should be able to handle other brands of X800 using standard 700 MHz memory. And again, you have silent cooling.

Kudos to Gigabyte for having some creativity, and for making my job more interesting by doing more than just slapping a logo on the heatsink and calling it a day!

In the end, Gigabyte earns two awards from us, one for each card!

Gigabyte X800XL Final Score: 97%
Gigabyte X800 Final Score: 98%


  • X800XL: Faster and cheaper than GF6800GT
  • X800: Untouchable in its price range
  • X800: Fast memory from factory (980 MHz from 700 MHz)
  • Both: No external adapters required
  • Both: 100% silent - not a single fan required
  • Both: 2 full games included
  • Both: Single slot design
  • Both: HDTV component RGB output
  • Both: VIVO

  • Both: Get very hot; up to 80 degrees C
  • Both: Form factor may not be compatible with some SFF systems
  • Both: Component RGB output only works in HD mode
  • Both: No SM3 support means some games don't look as good as they could