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MSI RX1800XL-VT2D256E (Radeon X1800 XL 256MB)
By Vincent Chang
Category : Graphics
Published by Vijay Anand on Friday, 4th November, 2005
Rating : 4 out of 5 stars  


The MSI RX1800XL-VT2D256E

For those who feel that the two-slot coolers for ATI's highest end Radeon X1800 XT cards are too much for your system, you would just have to opt for second best with the Radeon X1800 XL. As one would expect so soon after the launch of ATI's Radeon X1000 series, the MSI RX1800XL-VT2D256E is the reference design given a simple makeover, like the decal on the cooler, which is purely MSI. However, given the high-end nature of this card, we believe most standard versions would stick to the reference cooler. On startup, the cooler fan will throttle up momentarily, and the noise was around the level of the other reference X1000 cards that we have tested, which was definitely too loud in our opinion. Fortunately, the MSI Radeon X1800 XL will tone down its fan when it is idling and it becomes relatively silent. Unfortunately, expect it to be at maximum noise output during intensive gaming sessions, like our typical gaming benchmarks. If you have been using headphones, the noise level would probably not bother you, else you would just have to get used to the noise if you get this card (or any other standard Radeon X1800 XL cards) or change the cooler yourself. The latter option is not really advisable unless you come across graphics card cooler upgrades that explicitly mention it is designed for the Radeon X1800 XL.

Unlike the Radeon X1800 XT, this is a single slot solution.


With the cooler removed, the 1.4ns DDR3 RAM modules are exposed.

The clock speeds of the MSI Radeon X1800 XL follow the ones prescribed by ATI, with the core clock at 500MHz while the memory speeds are at 990MHz DDR. So far, we have only seen a 256MB version of this card, though 512MB is always a possibility in the future. The memory modules used are rated at 1.43ns, which is capable of up to 1400MHz DDR on paper and seemingly quite a lot of overclocking headroom, an issue that we will explore later. Additionally, the MSI Radeon X1800 XL has an onboard Rage Theatre ASIC that allows for video capturing. This is complemented by the dual DVI-I connectors and a mini-DIN output at the rear and is just about the most common configuration you would find on such high-end graphics cards.

There's a Rage Theatre ASIC chip included for video capturing.


The heatsink for the power transistors and the required external power through a molex power connector are found in both the Radeon X1800 XL and the Radeon X1800 XT.


The dual DVI-I connectors are the least you can expect from an expensive high-end card like the Radeon X1800 XL.

Overclocking enthusiasts should know that MSI has its own Dynamic Overclocking Technology (D.O.T) tool to aid in their efforts. They may even prefer D.O.T for their overclocking, secure in their knowledge that any damage to the card while overclocking with it is covered under the product warranty. However, for the MSI Radeon X1800 XL, for the first time MSI has integrated its D.O.T into the Catalyst Control Center. The usual options and profiles are present but all this is presented through the Control Center interface, which shows the customization flexibility of the Control Center and makes it so much easier as users now need only install once for the complete package of necessary drivers. The D.O.T tool is still being perfected at the moment, but eventually, MSI will phase it in to their driver download package when ready.

The D.O.T is now part of the Catalyst Control Center but the options should be familiar to previous users.

As for the options, there are the usual six preset overclocking profiles, ranging from private to commander, with each profile representing a certain amount of overclocking. You can of course specify your own custom frequencies if certain settings are unsuitable for your system. In case you have forgotten, here are the various preset options and their respective amount of overclocking in percentage:

  • Private - 2%
  • Sergeant - 4%
  • Captain - 6%
  • Colonel - 8%
  • General - 10%
  • Commander - 12% for core, 11% for memory

    The software and accessories included by MSI are fitting, with a choice selection of cables that should aid in its multimedia endeavors. For the gamers, there is Colin McRae Rally 2005, which is a decent game that has garnered quite a number of positive reviews. Below, we have listed the items that you can expect in your package:-

  • DVI-to-VGA adaptor
  • Composite extension cable
  • S-Video extension cable
  • 9-pin mini-DIN to Component cable
  • 6-pin PCIe to 4-pin Molex power plug converter
  • Driver CD with MSI Utilities
  • MSI D.O.T software
  • Colin McRae Rally 2005
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