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ATI Radeon X800 XT Mac Edition

256 MB dual-link DVI graphics card for G5 systems By Dave Nagel
For those looking to buy an Apple 30-inch Cinema HD Display, your graphics card options have just been expanded. ATI has introduced the Radeon X800 XT Mac Edition, a powerhouse graphics card designed to compete in the high-resolution, dual-link DVI market against Nvidia's GeForce 6800 Ultra series. The X800 XT is compact, quiet and less expensive than the 6800 Ultra. It also offers some decent competition in the performance arena.

When I reviewed Apple's 30-inch Cinema HD Display last month, I had some pretty negative things to say about what was, at the time, the only graphics card available that could power it--the Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL. In my experience, the Nvidia GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL had several problems. The most annoying of these for me is its noise. It sounded like the inside of the cabin of a 747 that hadn't been too well maintained. It was loud. It was also quite large, spanning practically the entire length of the G5 and hogging up space that could otherwise be used for a PCI card. And it was far too expensive, at $600. In fact, I'd say that its only virtue was that it could power the 30-inch display at full resolution (2,560 x 1,600), while no other card in the world could have done that.

Until now.

Radeon X800 XT Mac Edition: specifications
Now we have ATI's latest offering for the Mac, an enhanced version of the X800 XT that's been available for Windows systems for about a month now. The X800 XT Mac Edition, just announced today, is a 256 MB graphics card offering all of the advantages of its PC counterpart, with a few significant extras added in specifically for the Mac market.

The X800 XT Mac Edition is an 8x AGP card for Power Mac G5 systems. In terms of specifications, it's nearly identical to the PC version of the card. It includes a 475 MHz core speed, a 1,000 MHz data rate, six vertex engines and 16 pixel pipelines. It offers 182 gigaFLOPS performance, with a pixel fill rate of 7.6 gigapixels per second and a transform rate of 712 vertices per second, more than double the performance of ATI's previous top of the line Mac card, the Radeon 9800 Pro. And it has a memory bandwidth of 32 GB per second, compared with 22 GB per second for the 9800 Pro.

It also includes ATI technologies like 3Dc, Smartshader HD, Smoothvision HD and HyperZ HD. 3Dc is a technology for enhancing the gaming experience with 4:1 normal map compression and improved character detail and performance. Smartshader HD offers long pixel shaders

But it also has some extras not found on the PC version of the card, including dual-link DVI to support Apple's 30-inch Cinema HD Display, as well as a second ADC port to support Apple's previous generation of LCD Cinema Displays. It's a thoughtful addition for the Mac market based on the presumption that those who spent $2,500 on an older 23-inch display might not want to discard it yet just to add a 30-inch display. The Radeon X800 XT Mac Edition can support both types of displays simultaneously.

So not only is this new card competition for Nvidia's GeForce 6800 line, which previously held the monopoly on support for the 30-inch display, but it can provide simultaneous support for older displays as well. (ATI leaves it up to you to solve the dilemma of the clashing styles between the two types of displays. Personally, I suggest metallic spray paint and a Dremel. But, then again, I don't have to worry about the consequences.)

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Related Keywords:ati, radeon x800 xt mac edition, dual-link, dual link dvi, adc

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