RSS Feed

HCW Tech Blog

For the latest info on computer hardware, tech, news, video games, software tips, and Linux, check out our new improved front page: HCW Tech Blog

Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [05.24.05]
Manufactured by: Gigabyte
Discuss this article in the forum!


The Bundle

Besides the HDTV dongle and DVI adapter, Gigabyte threw in a bit of a software package as well:

The bundle includes full versions of Joint Operations and Thief: Deadly Shadows. Not exactly groundbreaking games, but they are quality, and worth checking out. PowerDirector 3 is there to make use of each card's VIVO features. The drivers CD comes with Gigabyte's overclocking util, and a full copy of PowerDVD Standard Edition (which is lacking quite a few features from the "Full" edition, but can be upgraded).

The Specs

In order to get an idea of which market segment each card belongs to, let's have a look at pricing and specifications:


There are some great deals out there on each of these cards. The X800XL version is just $318 at ZipZoomFly carries it for $325. The closest competing NVIDIA card price-wise is the GeForce 6800 (NON Ultra, NON GT- The GT version goes for around $350 or so at most stores).

The X800 version goes for $245 at ZipZoomFly, and $242 at The closest NVIDIA card in that price range is the GeForce 6600GT. However, keep in mind the 6600GT only comes equipped with 128MB of ram. The X700 Pro is just below the X800 in price, so we'll consider it too, when benchmarking begins.

The Trick

On page 1, I mentioned that this X800 comes with a trick up its sleeve. That trick? The memory speed is clocked at 980 MHz - that's quite an improvement on the reference specification of 700 MHz! In fact, that is the same memory speed as the X800XL. This leaves the only difference between Gigabyte's version of the X800 and an X800XL to be the amount of pixel pipelines. This makes it the perfect candidate for softmodding it to an X800XL. If you can enable those 4 extra pipes, you have yourself a fully capable X800XL, saving almost $100 in the process.

The Specs

Core Clock Pixel Pipelines MultiTexture FillRate Memory Clock Memory Bus Width Memory Bandwidth
X800 XL 400 MHz 16 6400 MP/s 980 MHz 256 bit 31.36 GB/s
6800 GT 350 MHz 16 5600 MP/s 700 MHz 256 bit 22.4 GB/s
X800 400 MHz 12 4800 MP/s 700 MHz* 256 bit 22.4 GB/s*
6600 GT 500 MHz 8 4000 MP/s 1000 MHz 128 bit 16.0 GB/s
X700 Pro 256 420 MHz 8 3360 MP/s 860 MHz 128 bit 13.76 GB/s

As you can see, the X800XL has a clear advantage over its competition from NVIDIA. It has a higher fillrate, and almost 10 GB/s more memory bandwidth. However the 6800 GT benefits from SM3 support, and for the filthy rich, support for SLI. Note that the 6800 GT sells for more than the X800 XL, making the XL look even better (you don't even want to know how the non-GT 6800 stacks up to these cards ;))

On the X800 side, iit benefits from having 12 pipelines, compared to 8 on the 6600GT. It also has gobs more memory bandwidth, as well as more memory overall; the 6600GT only ever comes with 128 MB of memory. The X700 Pro might be seen as being 'too little, too late'. Think of the X800 to be its replacement. You'll see why when we get to the benchmarks.

* = reminder that Gigabyte's version has a memory clock speed of 980 MHz. The Gigabyte X800 therefore carries a theoretical memory bandwidth of 31.36 GB/s; almost double that of its competitor, the 6600GT.

The Test

We will be comparing each card to its competitor, so from NVIDIA, we included the 6800 GT, and 6600 GT. We also included the X700 Pro, to see how much ATI improved on their mid-range segment by replacing it with the X800. Finally, to see what kind of real-world difference is made by the improved memory clock speed, we downclocked our X800 to the standard 700 MHz. This should make clear the advantage of buying Gigabyte's version (besides the silent cooler of course!)

Most tests will be run in the two resolutions people in the middle-range market segment will use most: 800x600 and 1024x768. We also ran each resolution with filtering on; 8x Anisotropic and 4x Antialiasing. Since these are the settings people actually use, and we test on games people actually play, this will give you a good idea on what to expect from each video card, the way YOU play it. Look for an average framerate of at least 60 fps for smooth play overall.

The System

CPU: Intel P4 660 (3.6 GHz)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-8ANXP-D (Intel 925X)
Memory: Kingston HyperX PC4300 (3-4-4-8)
HDD: Maxtor MaxLine III 250 GB SATA

NVIDIA Drivers: ForceWare 71.89
ATI Drivers: Catalyst 5.4

We used the following games and demos:

3dMark 05
3dMark 03
Aquamark 3
Cinebench 2003
Doom 3
Far Cry
Half Life 2
PCMark 2004
Splinter Cell 3: Chaos Theory
Unreal Tournament 2004

The following tools were used to aid in benchmarking:

HardwareOC Far Cry Benchmarking Utility
HardwareOC Half Life 2 Benchmarking Utility
Beyond3D Splinter Cell 3 Benchmarking Scripts

There are quite a few graphs to go over... Let's get right to it!

Next Page: (3dMark 05 and 03)