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Gigabyte GV-RX18L256V-B X1800 XL Gigabyte GV-RX18L256V-B X1800 XL: With the X1900 family on the market, cards based on the X1800 can be fetched at a pretty good price.
Date: February 8, 2005
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    Video cards are still one of the fastest growing parts of the computer industry.  Where CPU speed has slowed down over the past few years, 'only' growing about 50% in the last year or so.  However video cards have increased in performance the quite highly with each successive generation. 

    ATi video cards are currently considered the lower performance models at this moment, with nVidia's latest video cards gaining the preference of many of the enthusiast.  ATi has fairly recently released their latest products, of which some consider at bit too late to match nVidia's performance level. 

    Gigabyte, like most other motherboard manufacturers has diversified its product range, from its standard motherboards to barebones laptops to video cards.  They are a manufacturer of both nVidia and ATi based cards which allows them to provide the best of both worlds here.  Today we will look at one of their ATi based video cards.

Gigabyte GV-RX18L256V-B

    Gigabyte sent us an ATi 1800xl based video card.  What does this video card provide for us in the way of bundle as well as the actual card.

    The first thing you always see is the box, and Gigabyte has decided that bigger is better here.  The actual box is very large, being about 1.5 times larger than the cards' length, and about twice its height.  On the front is something that seems pretty standard now in the way of box design from many manufacturers, a female warrior.  Otherwise the front of the box gives the major features of the card for those glancing at it.  The back of the box goes into a little more detail on the major technical points mentioned on the front.  Opening the box presents us with, another box, but inside this box we begin to see what the bundle is, as the initial view is of the included software bundle.  Underneath that is the actual video card held in foam with the various cables also being here.

    What is the bundle that Gigabyte has decided to provide, is it worth the "$190" that the box claims.  They provide a few useful utilities, from Cyberlink they gave PowerDVD 6, if you don't already have DVD software on the computer.  Also provided is PowerDirector 3 for editing and capturing the Vi part of ViVo.  In the game section of this bundle is Valve's CounterStrike Condition Zero, which shows off the power of all newer ATi based video cards.  Otherwise a game called Xpand Rally was included.  While this game is slightly older, but still a Direct X 8.1 game, it has some very nice graphics for a rally game.

    Next lets look at the included cables.  The first picture shows the standard cables most expect from a video card these days, a DVI-VGA converter, a S-VHS cable and a S-VHS-Composite connector.  The second picture shows the unique items that Gigabyte has included.  First we see the ViVo cable, for both S-VHS and composite, this would really make the S-VHS to composite connector useless as both connectors are provided for on the cable.  Next is an addition I personally liked to see, that of a component connector, for those who have TV's without DVI or VGA but do have component connections to their TV.

    Now lets look at the star of the review, the GV-RX18L256V-B.  First a look at the outer portion of the card, the side of the card is dominated by the heatsink with only the power portion of the card being viewable here.  The back of the card is pretty bare, with no memory chips or much else in the way of silicon on this side.  The main thing that you see is the mounting holders for the heatsink, eight screws in all.  Moving onto the outputs of the card, we see that Gigabyte has nicely decided to put Dual DVI ports on the card, with the ViVo S-VHS connector being sandwiched in-between.  On the other side of the card we see two basic things, first the PCIe power connector along with its associated power regulators, etc.  The other thing that we notice is the fact that this card is a single slot solution, which means you can use more slots as they aren't blocked by the video cards' heatsink.  Will this hamper the overclocking of our sample, we will see later on.

    We will now take a brief look at the devices underneath the heatsink.  First on the list is the GPU, which as one would expect is a R520 core, which is the base of all the x1800 series of video cards.  Hubert has discussed much of the new features of this core in his AIW X1800XL review, so we will not get into much detail there.  Needless to say the fact that it has over 320 million transistors using a 90nm process makes this one packed device.  Next is the RAM which is Samsung FBGA GDDR3 memory.  This RAM is rated at 1.4ns thus giving it a rated clock speed of 700MHz (1.4GHz DDR).  Lastly is the good old Rage Theater chip, which I still say needs to be replaced by the Rage Theater 200 chip, which should provide a better video capture, but we will see if that is the case in our video capture tests.


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