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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  


There must be something irresistible about a bargain that never fails to summon hordes of people. Witness the Creative warehouse sales in Singapore, which has certain 'Star Buys' that will inevitably attract bargain hunters that camp overnight in order to secure these limited offers. Living in a country where there is no stigma involved in queuing up for days and nights to get the desired deal, we naturally look for the best deals too. From our experiences, it is not the most expensive or feature packed product that gives the best price to performance ratio, but rather some less heralded product from the middle and lower price segments.

Hence, while the new Radeon X1800 XT cards have been topping the charts with its competitive performance, we are actually quite interested in the potential of the bridesmaid Radeon X1800 XL. After all, we still have fond memories of the Radeon X800 XL, which was a classic example of such a bargain, with an excellent price to performance ratio. It may not be realistic to expect the same despite the similar XL nomenclature given by ATI. However, if the Radeon X1800 XL follows in this tradition, you can bet that it would be one of the star buys for this new generation of cards. To examine whether we have a potential bargain blockbuster in our hands, we have the MSI RX1800XL-VT2D256E in the labs. First, here is a glimpse of this brand new card from MSI and its technical specifications:

Would the Radeon X1800 XL from MSI tempt us with its price or performance?

MSI RX1800XL-VT2D256E Technical Specifications
Graphics Engine
  • ATI Radeon X1800 XL GPU
  • Core Clock: 500MHz
  • 16 pixel shader processors
  • 8 vertex shader processors
  • 256-bit memory interface
  • Ring Bus Memory Controller
    • 512-bit internal ring bus for memory reads only
    • Programmable intelligent arbitration logic
    • Fully associative texture, color, and Z/stencil cache designs
    • Lossless Z Compression (up to 48:1)
    • Fast Z-Buffer Clear
    • Z/stencil cache optimized for real-time shadow rendering
    • Optimized for performance at high display resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions
  • Ultra-Threaded Shader Engine
    • Support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 programmable vertex and pixel shaders in hardware
    • Full speed 128-bit floating point processing for all shader operations
    • Up to 512 simultaneous pixel threads
    • Dedicated branch execution units for high performance dynamic branching and flow control
    • Dedicated texture address units for improved efficiency
    • 3Dc+ texture compression
    • Multiple Render Target (MRT) support
    • Render to vertex buffer support
    • Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL® 2.0
  • Advanced Image Quality Features
    • 64-bit floating point & 32-bit Integer HDR rendering supported throughout the pipeline
      • Includes support for blending and multi-sample anti-aliasing
    • 2x/4x/6x Anti-Aliasing modes
      • Multi-sample algorithm with gamma correction, programmable sparse sample patterns, and centroid sampling
      • Adaptive Anti-Aliasing feature with Performance and Quality modes
      • Temporal Anti-Aliasing mode
      • Lossless Color Compression (up to 6:1) at all resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions
    • 2x/4x/8x/16x Anisotropic Filtering modes
      • Up to 128-tap texture filtering
      • Adaptive algorithm with Performance and Quality options
    • High resolution texture support (up to 4k x 4k)
  • Avivo Programmable Video Processing Engine
    • Accelerated MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264 decoding and transcoding
    • DXVA support
    • De-blocking and noise reduction filtering
    • Motion compensation, IDCT, DCT and color space conversion
    • Vector adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing
    • 3:2 pulldown (frame rate conversion)
    • Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time
    • HDR tone mapping acceleration
  • Flexible display support
    • Programmable piecewise linear gamma correction, color correction, and color space conversion (10 bits per color)
    • Complete, independent color controls and video overlays for each display
    • High quality pre- and post-scaling engines, with underscan support for all outputs
    • Content-adaptive de-flicker filtering for interlaced displays
    • Xilleon™ TV encoder for high quality analog output
    • YPrPb component output for direct drive of HDTV displays
    • Spatial/temporal dithering enables 10-bit color quality on 8-bit and 6-bit displays
    • Fast, glitch-free mode switching
    • VGA mode support on all outputs
    • Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions and refresh rates
Graphics Memory
  • 256-bit, 8-channel GDDR3/GDDR4 memory interface
  • 256MB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Default clock rate = 495MHz (effective speed of 990MHz DDR)
  • Dual integrated dual-link DVI transmitters
    • DVI 1.0 compliant / HDMI interoperable and HDCP ready
  • Dual integrated 10 bit per channel 400 MHz DACs
I/O Faceplate Connectors
  • 2 x DVI-I connectors
  • 1 x mini-DIN connector (for VIVO)
Software & Drivers
  • Driver support for Windows 98SE / Me / NT / 2000 / XP
  • MSI Utilties (Live Update, GoodMEM, Lockbox, WMIinfo, SecureDoc)
  • MSI Dynamic Overclocking Tool (D.O.T)
  • Norton Internet Security 2005
  • Colin McRae Rally 2005 (full game)
Other Information
  • Rage Theatre VIVO Chip onboard
  • CrossFire Ready
  • Native PCI Express x16 bus interface
  • PCIe Molex Power Connector required

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