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For a while now the 6800 Ultra and X800 XTPE have been batting it out for the performance crown at the top of the AGP card market, until now neither ATI or Nvidia have released a product to move their AGP lines forward and due to this users of PCI Express have found their performance is slightly higher than those using AGP parts. With the development of Rialto, ATI’s PCI express to AGP conversion technology ATI began moving lower spec PCI Express products to AGP a few months ago. Today we have a look at their first move to convert a high end product…the highest infact, the X850 XTPE.

Bundle

As this is a reference sample card all that arrived with it was the external power cable to allow you to power the card. Retail packages will vary greatly in their software bundle so two to watch out for will be Sapphire and Asus. Both companies always provide decent hardware and software bundles with their Radeon cards.

The Card

 

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The X850 core has been around for a few months now, though this core is slightly different from the rest as the chip features an AGP interface. On the surface of the core the only distinguishing feature from the PCIe cores is the AGP logo. Speeds of the card are the exact same as the PCIe part with core at 540mhz and memory at 590mhz.

The card itself follows a standard design, infact it only really differs from the PCI Express model in 2 ways….

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The first difference is the power connector used. In the AGP model it is a 4pin Molex rather than the 6-pin of the PCI Express model. And the second difference is of course the interconnect used…AGP rather than PCI Express. For comparison purposes here is a picture of the X850XTPE in PCIe flavour…

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Both cards do of course feature ATI’s stock dual slot cooler which is almost silent most of the time, it can get a little louder during a demanding 3D session if your case cooling isn’t up to much but on the whole its very quiet.

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The rear of the card is also a standard design, you have the ram heatsink which provides passive cooling to the memory on the rear of the card and the rage theatre chip which as always looks after the cards video in/out features.

An interesting design decision we found was the lack of dual DVI ports on this card. We would have expected that all top end cards would now come with dual DVI…this doesn’t appear to be the case though and our X850 XTPE arrived with a single DVI and a single VGA out. The card is of course capable of dual DVI should a retail partner decide to add this feature (Likely candidates will be Powercolor and Asus).

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So what’s underneath all that cooling???

Removing the fan and heatsink from the front of the card reveals the cards core and memory. The core is very similar to the other X8 series cards as you can see.

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Memory is split between front and back of the card and on the front we have 4 chips. The chips are Samsung branded 1.6ns parts which are rated up to 600Mhz.

On the rear of the card you can see the same memory layout…

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