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A few months ago at the Texas gaming festival ATI demonstrated its first 512mb graphics cards to enthusiasts, since then however there hasn’t been much information available on ATI’s plans for bringing these 512 meg cards to market. Today that changes with the launch of the X800XL 512mb (PCIe).

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Going into this article I have to admit I was more than sceptical on the benefits of adding an extra 256mb to the XL…I wondered if the mainstream clocks of the XL would give the card enough oomph to utilise the full 512mb and if an X850XTPE with 512mb would be a better fit… lets see if ATI made the right decision.

The Card.

The X800XL 512mb looks very similar to the most recent ATI cards. The model we have in for review today is from Sapphire and is their Fireblade edition though our sample didn’t come with the bundle or branding. You will get the same spec/design though if you purchase a retail card. Comparing to the 256mb XL model there is a different cooler used, the 512mb card uses one more like the X850pro reference cooler. Hidden underneath the cooler are eight memory chips on the front of the card, double that found on the 256mb version. The new model also boasts dual DVI which is a great decision in our opinion. The lack of dual DVI on the original X800XL was one of the few area’s it lost out to Nvidia's 6800GT.

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An addition to the front of the card is the 6-pin power connector, the original X800XL did not feature this in most cases, including the reference design.

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The rear of the card features a passive memory cooler which covers the eight memory chips. It also hosts the rage theatre chip which handles the cards VIVO functionality. This is another change from the original X800XL reference design, and another good change at that.

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Clocks on the X800XL 512mb are 398mhz core, 492mhz memory which exactly match the 256mb version we tested a few months back. We found that card to be a nice overclocker and expect the same from this card.

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Here’s a comparison shot of the 256mb version for you to compare:

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Sapphire will be providing their usual bundle with this card in retail which includes numerous cables as well as useful software such as power DVD and Sapphires own overclocking utility.



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