Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/1703


We've been able to take a quick look at ATI's new high end mobile graphics part, formerly code-named M28 Pro. The Mobility Radeon X800 XT is essentially another speed boost in mobile graphics. This time around, we see an increase in the number of pipelines from 12 in the MR X800 to 16. Aside from the 33% increase in the number of pixel pipes, this part is essentially the same as previous Mobility Radeon parts based on R420 hardware. For more information, please see our initial look at the MR X800.

This marks quite an occasion: on a hardware level, both NVIDIA and ATI mobile parts are just as powerful as their highest end desktop parts. The deciding factor in performance will be total power allocated to the graphics card in any given notebook. The only thing separating the ultra high end in the mobile and desktop worlds is now clock speed. This is indeed a landmark event, and with the push towards modular designs with AXIOM and MXM, we hope to see this paradigm hold. Hopefully, the upcoming generation of graphics cards will see an even faster move into the mobile space. But we must say that we aren't disappointed with what we see right now.

Yes, the market for the ultra high end in the mobile space isn't huge, but it's important to provide the option for those who want it. Even more useful is the fact that budget and mid-range mobile graphics based on the absolute latest technology is available because of the push in the high end. Now more notebook users can buy a product for business without worrying that any graphically intensive program will bring it to its knees. Top that off with a slice of notebooks outselling desktops last month (as per research done by Current Analysis), and the future is looking bright for mobile computing.

Workstation graphics parts have even made their way into notebooks. And the ones that we've seen are lighter than the Alienware box that we tested for this review. This has to be the heaviest, hottest-to-the-touch notebook that we have ever tested.

In addition, gamers who plan on using notebooks like this Alienware system will need to invest in a high quality sound system. The fan noise generated by the system rivaled even the loudest desktop systems that we've tested. It was startling to realize that, while holding a conversation with someone a few feet away from me, I had been shouting over the system to the point of discomfort.

The system stats are quite impressive. The Alienware Area-51M 7700 is a 3.8GHz Pentium 4 system with 1GB of RAM and a 1680x1050 panel. The featured part is, of course, the ATI Mobility Radeon X800 XT. The core and memory clock speeds of the MR X800 XT are 480MHz and 550MHz respectively.

Performance Overview

We tested the Alienware system at both 1280x1024 and 1680x1050 (the panel's native resolution). As we can clearly see, the ATI Mobility Radeon X800 XT is no slouch when it comes to pushing pixels around. The 1280x1024 numbers are great, but on a notebook like this, everyone will want to run native resolution. Half Life 2 was tested using our custom coast_12 demo, and Doom 3 ran with 8xAF enabled (as we used High Quality mode for our tests).

Mobility Radeon X800 XT Performance

And at native resolution, we have very playable frame rates. We can enable 4xAA/8xAF on any of these titles and not have any problems. It would even be possible to run at higher resolutions with an external monitor, but the panel that comes with our tested system is definitely beautiful.

Mobility Radeon X800 XT Performance

Comparing the Mobility Radeon X800 XT to desktop parts shows us just how powerful a part that we are dealing with. Our notebook even beats the desktop X850 XT in a couple of tests as our X850 XT numbers were run on slightly older drivers. Generally, this part will keep up with the highest end ATI desktop part with no problems.

Doom 3 Performance

Doom 3 Performance

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Quite impressive performance numbers, indeed.

Final Words

Again, for a refresher on the technology behind the Mobility Radeon X800 XT, check out our earlier review of the original M28.

This has been quite an interesting weekend for us. Here, we are testing the latest mobile graphics card from ATI, which keeps up with the fastest desktop part that they have to offer. Back when the NVIDIA Go 6800 Ultra was released at a higher clock speed than the desktop part, we were happy to see parity between desktop and mobile offerings. We have felt for quite some time that the "chicken and the egg" problem of getting more users to buy mobile hardware could be solved by taking an "if you build it, they will come" perspective. It is fitting that ATI should launch this new mobile speed demon just after the first month in history that saw mobile platforms outsell desktop computers.

The 3.8GHz Pentium 4 Alienware system with 1GB of RAM, 2 DVD players, all sorts of I/O, and the Mobility Radeon X800 XT surpasses the performance of most of our desktop test beds in many areas. As this article is typed on an IBM X31 notebook with the rain clearing up outside, the feeling that the much predicted mobile revolution is in full swing overwhelms the moment. Of course, the moment is lost when the fans spin up on the Alienware notebook and the ear plugs are just out of reach.

It is quite impressive that both ATI and NVIDIA are competing as hard in the mobile space as they are on the desktop. But the real credit needs to go to these notebook designers who can offer the graphics vendors all the power and thermal headroom that they want. We still haven't seen a truly mobility oriented graphics solution as of yet. Intel had the right idea when they ventured down the path to the Pentium M, and it's about time that the rest of the industry followed suit and designed a mobile part that offers good performance rather than retrofitting a performance part for mobility.

In the case of the Mobility Radeon X800 XT, we are quite impressed. We would love to get our hands on a platform in which we could test both the MRX800 XT and the Go6800 Ultra for a fair comparison. Unfortunately, such an itch is difficult to scratch. The few real concerns that we have are the same as what we had back at the launch of the original M28. We are very happy to see this part in Alienware's latest offering, but (like the NVIDIA counterpart) this is still a very niche product.

We'd love to see parts like this move into a tighter and tighter thermal and power space. As excellent as it is to see products like this on the market, we want to see this type of graphics power available to users who want to actually be able to lift their notebook or hear themselves think.

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