Introduction

While still having some trouble keeping pace with NVIDIA, ATI has been doing well lately with quality graphics solutions like the X800 GTO. The X1800 series has also shown promise, although there are still issues with the price, which doesn't quite reflect performance with respect to the competition (specifically the 7800) right now. The X1800 XL is showing up between $370 and $400, while we can find the 7800 GT at prices between $320 and $370. That said, as prices hopefully fall, the X1800 XL looks to be a good high-end choice from ATI for the holidays.



Many are familiar with ATI's All-In-Wonder series of graphics cards, which offer not only gaming power, but also various multimedia features such as TV playback and recording on your PC. ATI has released a few different versions of the All-In-Wonder, and for the most part, the multimedia aspects of them are similar. Recently though, we got a chance to look at the newest edition of the A-I-W, the X1800 XL A-I-W, and we are impressed with what we saw.

Obviously, the main difference between the X1800 XL A-I-W and past versions is the level of gaming power, which is highest here with the X1800 XL. The multimedia features have also been upgraded, and we'll look at that in the next section. The main features that the All-In-Wonder variation of this card provides are centered around video I/O, and the capabilities of this card make it quite useful to those who want an easy way to get video on to their PC. Due to the upgraded graphics performance, the X1800 XL A-I-W should look even more desirable to those gamers who want to be able to play the latest games and have some extra video options as well.

We'll be looking at all the different features of this card to give an idea of what it is capable of media-wise. We'll also take a look at how it performs in a few games relative to the competition, as well as what kind of power consumption we see for the card. As always, price plays an important part of the overall value of the part, and because we only know the suggested retail at the time of this writing ($429), there will be a fair amount of subjectivity here. That notwithstanding, there is no denying the X1800 XL A-I-W's potential, so without further delay, lets take a look at it.

The Card
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  • bloc - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    One card consistently performs better though.

    It's not like one card does better with some demo's and the other card in different ones.

    Something to consider...as I think if AT saw the XL beating the GT in all benches, the reviews may be better. As would FS with the inverse.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    Meh. I generally consider the X1800XL and 7800GT to be about equal. The problem is, why would you want to spend extra for a card that includes an old TV-IN chip? Theatre 200 is not that great. If it were a 550, the additional cost would be worthwhile. I think there are far better TV cards out there that could be used with any setup.

    Personally, I've never been a big fan of the AIW series: upgrade your GPU, and lose the TV tuner function! With other tuner cards, you can move them around to other PCs quite easily and GPU performance isn't a factor. Just my opinion, though.
    Reply
  • Doormat - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    Wow. Nothing mentioned about the whole GPGPU aspect of the X1x00 series of cards. This is the most synergistic part of the whole AIW/X1800 experience. Having the GPU transcode the show on the fly to a suitable format (MPEG4, H264, whatever) for your PSP or your iPod would be an extremely powerful feature. Reply
  • ElJefe - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    hm what do you mean? didnt aiw already encode and record tv? it does on mine? soemthing different now?

    I am trully chipper that this card is out. now i can finally buy a new system. My 9800 aiw pro with 754 a64 system is not completely outdated but before summer it will get to be.

    No mention of rage 200 vs 550 theater chips and stuff. hm.
    gota go check this out. 429 isnt too expensive for it. you get ALOT of stuff with aiw, and also PICTURE QUALITY, something that is never mentioned in reviews, is always superb on them, hm, i guess it's ati again. Nvidia never bothers to excell in this area. a shame really.
    Reply
  • Doormat - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    It records, but what about when I want it to record in MPEG2 for my home viewing, and then transcode it to MPEG4 for my PSP or iPod Video. Thats the single biggest hook for getting people to buy this card - roll your own videos for you device. And not one nary of a mention in the AT article. Reply
  • tayhimself - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    But is the transcoding accelerated by the AIW card? Some sort of new AVIVO feature? This article does seem to forget about AVIVO which was a big marketing push for the X1x00 series launch. Reply
  • Doormat - Monday, November 21, 2005 - link

    No, the transcoding is accelerated by the X1x00 chip, hence my reference to the whole GPGPU thing in my first post.

    There was an article a few weeks ago about how the X1x00-series chips will have custom programs to transcode video...

    http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,1880749...">http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,1880749...

    Encoding this nearly 5-minute clip, at DVD resolution, takes about 2 minutes 17 seconds with DivX 6, with single-pass encoding at 1 megabit. Windows Media Encoder can produce a high-quality single-pass transcode to WMV9 at 1 megabit in about 4:35. Windows Movie Maker 2 takes a few quality shortcuts to produce a DVD resolution clip at 1.5 megabits in 2:05. That's all pretty good: This is, after all, one of the fastest CPUs money can buy, paired with very fast RAM.

    How fast does ATI's new Avivo Transcode app get it done? Try 24 seconds! Okay, that's "give or take a second," because the MPEG-4 profile finished a 1-megabit encode in 23 seconds, the MPEG-2 and Windows Media Video 9 profiles were done in 24, and the DVD profile at 6 megabits finished in 25 seconds. That's all at the default full resolution, too. Crunching down the output resolution by choosing the "WMV9 for PMC (Portable Media Center)" profile at 700 kilobits per second completed the job in 17 seconds.
    Reply

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