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ATI All-In-Wonder X800XL ATI All-In-Wonder X800XL: We look at ATI's high-end AIW card for the PCIe platform. Great for multimedia? Yup. Gamers? You betchya.
Date: November 18, 2005
Manufacturer:
Written By: Huy Duong
Price:

The All-In-Wonder line of ATI cards have always had a warm place in our hearts. Powered by ATI's latest desktop VPU, the All-In-Wonders (AIW) always provided the best balance of performance and multimedia features.

The ATI All-In-Wonder X800XL

The ATI All-In-Wonder X800XL is a "standard" sized card (we say this often, but this will change for the AIW soon, very soon...), and should have no problems fitting into full height systems. Unlike the previous high-end AIW offering based on the R400 series, the AIW X800XL is a PCI Express part rather than AGP. Up until today, the only PCIe offering was the X600, so this upgrade was long overdue.

The VPU is clocked at 400MHz and built on the 0.11nm process with 16 pixel pipelines as well with hardware support for DirectX 9B and Shader Model 2.0. Basically, it's the same specs as previous X800XL cards we've reviewed here at VL.

The AIW X800XL features 256MB of DDR3 memory. The memory is clocked at 490MHz (980MHz DDR), and unlike the top of the card, no additional cooling is provided for the ram located on the back. The Samsung K4J55323QF-GC20 modules are rated for 500MHz, so we potentially do have a bit of OCing headroom.

A single slot cooler handles the heat duties and features a relatively quiet fan. Now, we say relative, but that's if you compare it with most CPU fans. The fan here is actually not that quiet, and makes a fair amount of noise on initial spin up. Once the system is powered on and running, it really isn't that noisy, but in a water cooled setup, we were able to hear it.

Unlike some high-end cards from ATI and NVIDIA, the AIW X800XL does not require any additional PCI Express power. This will be good news for those who either do not have one of these power connections on their PSUs or for those with cramped systems, this is one less power adapter to deal with.

Moving on to the multimedia features, we have both the Microtune 2121 TV Tuner and the Theater 200 chip making a return to the AIW. We've covered the Theater 200 to death here, but we will say we were a little disappointed that ATI has yet to move to the Theater 550 for their AIW products.

The Microtune 2121 is significantly smaller than the previous chip used and other than preserving some PCB space, the new chip uses 10% less power than before. Other than drawing less power (the new chip consumes less than 2W), it also runs cooler as well.

For your input and output options, moving from left to right is the first Coaxial connector, followed by the second Coaxial connection. These are used for the FM receiver and standard cable television. Next we have the input connection for the video input and output blocks (as well as a VGA output), and finally we have the DVI connection.

Along with the AIW X800XL, there are loads of goodies included with the product. Of course, we have product manuals, driver and software CDs, an antenna for the FM receiver and a couple video cables, but let's look over the key extras that make up the product package.

Much slimmer than previous models, the Remote Wonder Plus is a newer remote included with the bundle. While the card itself is supported by Microsoft's Media Center, the remote is not. ATI does include a voucher for a MCE remote, so if that's important to you, cash it in. The Remote Wonder Plus itself is good for up to 60' (walls, and other factors will affect this) and is fully programmable to perform a number of Windows functions. If that isn't enough, there are plenty of free plug-ins all over the web to extend the functionality.

There's a couple of stackable blocks for input and output, each with raised and recessed nubs to lock them together. The input block (left image) has four connection points in the following order; S-Video, Composite, left and right audio. The output block (right image) has the same connections as well (heading the opposite direction), plus the following attached lower on the cable; SPDIF, Line-In and Line-Out.

The special dongle above will allow you to either use a traditional CRT monitor as a primary or secondary display. Connected to this dongle are also the YPrPb connections, aka, Component. Short of the newest high definition standards, this is one of the best video connections available, surpassing that of S-Video. Unfortunently, you are only limited to YPrPb output from the PC and not the other way around.

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