When we had began working on this Power Color X800XL piece, our intentions were to test the graphics card and its NVIDIA and ATI reference cards using our rare Tyan Tomcat K8E-SLI S2866 system but upon its hardware installation, we had ran into troubles. After the PCI Express card was inserted, and the SLI paddle changed to reflect a single graphics card, we turned on the system but the display would fail to initialize. We had tried using multiple dongles, monitors, BIOS versions, etc... No matter our attempts the X800XL 256MB would not output any display with the Tyan Tomcat motherboard where multiple other graphics cards would work without fault. Changing around motherboards, the Power Color X800XL managed to work remarkably fine. We had tried at least five other motherboards, ranging from budget ASRock products to expensive i955X parts, and in all of the instances there were no faults except for the K8E-SLI. It is, however, important to note that although the motherboard supports Athlon 64 Socket 939 processors, it does depend upon NVIDIA's nForce Professional 2200 Chipset. For testing, we turned to our faithful Abit AW8 i955X motherboard along with an Intel Pentium 4 processor for our testing process. An overclocked Pentium 4 was chosen over a Pentium D due to the higher operating frequency and SMP kernel conflicts between Fedora Core 4 and the latest ATI drivers.
|Processor:||Intel Pentium 4 530 @ 3.75GHz (250 x 15)|
|Motherboard:||Abit AW8 v1.0 (i955X)|
|Memory:||2 x 512MB Corsair XMS2-5400UL @ DDR2-833 3-4-4-8|
|Hard Drives:||Western Digital 160GB SATA2|
|Optical Drives:||Lite-On 16x DVD-ROM|
|Power Supply:||SilverStone Strider ST405 400W|
|Operating System:||Fedora Core 4|
|GCC (GNU Compiler):||4.0.0|
|Graphics Driver:||NVIDIA 1.0-8178
With the X800XL being built upon an 110nm manufacturing process, rather than 130nm low-k process used by the X850XT PE and the various other R4XX parts, the overclocking abilities should be heightened. In addition, the Samsung K4J55323QF-GC16 IC's are rated to support a 600MHz maximum frequency, which alone is 110MHz beyond Power Color's specified speed. However, due to unfortunate circumstances we were unable to overclock the R430 card. Unlike overclocking in Windows where there are multiple overclocking utilities available, or NVIDIA + Linux with CoolBits and NVClock, ATI Linux users are presently limited to one major program for overclocking their graphics card and that is Rovclock. Rovclock is an ATI overclocking utility designed by Sebastian Witt with the latest version at the time of publishing being v0.6c. Unfortunately, the program is not as maintained as Roderick Colenbrander's NVClock with the latest ATI cards officially being supported is the 9000 series. Thus due to ATI Linux overclocking limitations at the current time, we were unable to overclock the X800XL for this review. As for the noise level of the Power Color X800XL 256MB fan it was fairly quiet during our operation. Although the fan wasn't as quiet or as powerful as some of the other video card heatsinks we routinely run across, it certainly was acceptable by our standards for being a stock solution.
With the Power Color X800XL 256MB installed, we used Enemy Territory, Doom 3, Quake 4, Unreal Tournament 2004 (w/ UMark Linux BETA 3), and SPECViewPerf as the basis for the graphical benchmarks. Enemy Territory is the least stressful of the benchmarks thrown its way while SPECViewPerf is used to represent workstation OpenGL performance rather than simply gaming trials. Due to the present status of X2 - The Threat v1.4 (being ported by Linux Game Publishing) we have yet to append the game to our arsenal of video card benchmarks due to the number of bugs present in the first BETA phase. However, upon the correction of these Linux issues, we will be adding X2 to our growing list of Linux-native benchmarks as the game offers terrific testing options. With each of these benchmarking trials, we ran them at various resolutions and settings. Due to the Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering between the ATI and NVIDIA Linux display drivers, we refrained from our usual pixel tests. On the topic of comparison, for benchmarking we also ran all of our tests on a NVIDIA 6600GT 128MB, NVIDIA 6800GT 256MB, and ATI X300SE 128MB. On the Windows field, the X800XL is a rough equivalent to the GeForce 6800GT part but due to the present status of Linux drivers, we also used a 6600GT while the X300 was used as a budget ATI offering. All four cards used in testing were PCI Express x16 capable and used the most recent drivers from the green and red - 1.0-8178 and 8.20.8 respectively.