It’s been a long time coming but ATI’s next PCI-E All-in-Wonder card is finally here. It’s not using the fastest GPU from them now though but what it has is still pretty good. For gaming and multimedia, we’re going to look at how the All-in-Wonder X800 XL stacks up.
It’s not the first PCI-E All-in-Wonder card from ATI though. That honor goes to the All-in-Wonder X600 Pro. But if you are in the market for a PCI-E All-in-Wonder card, your choices are very limited with this and the X600 Pro. Consider that the AGP has a plethora of cards in the line, it’ll take some time before the PCI-E offerings catch up what are available for the AGP slot.
The All-in-Wonder X800 XL builds off the .110nm manufacturing process and has 16 pipelines with 256MB of GDDR3 memory. The R430 is clocked at 400MHz while the memory sits at 490MHz (980MHz DDR). Pixel fillrate is at a potential of 6.4 Gpixels/sec and a geometry rate of 400Mtriangles. Specifications for the card are the same as the regular X800 XL. With that, I expect to see the same performance from the two cards.
Physically, the card features a large heatsink fan with good ole Ruby on the front. The setup covers a good portion of the card so that it can cool many components down. The microtuner on this board is even smaller than the one that’s on the All-in-Wonder X800 XT. Instead of a perfect rectangle, there’s an angled portion where the fan on the card butts up.
The connections for this card mimic the All-in-Wonder X800 XT I reviewed a few months ago. First of all, there’s a hub connector that plugs into the video card. From there, you can plug in two stackable video input boxes. Each box has certain groups of connections such as various video inputs or outputs. ATI has always been good at providing connection options for their All-in-Wonder cards and it’s no exception here.
As with all the All-in-Wonder cards, the software suite that powers it all is Multimedia Center. Version 9.09 was available on the disk. Now I don’t mind Multimedia Center and have used it in the past but it’s starting to show its age. But if you have a copy of Windows XP Media Center 2005, you’re in luck. Recent releases of drivers allow for this card to work with the Microsoft HTPC software suite. I have three boxes at home running XP Media Center 2005 and one uses the All-in-Wonder card. The quality of the video when using the card was pretty good and comparable to the hardware TV cards such as Hauppauge’s PVR-150. But if you have to use Multimedia Center, it’s got all the tools to get the job done. There are always updates to the software and it’s a very capable application. I prefer the presentation of BeyondTV or Windows XP Media Center 2005 but there’s not much MMC can’t do. One thing that it does that Windows XP Media Center 2005 doesn’t do is let you tinker with the quality of your recordings and what format you’d like to record your shows in. Another is that you can record radio, something XP Media Center also doesn’t do. Both of these features are available in MMC. If you don’t have time to listen to your favorite show on the radio, just set it up to record. With the popularity of MP3 players these days, you can easily transfer these recordings to one and listen to them at a later time. I use a few programs to compress my recordings on Windows XP Media Center 2005 but with MMC, you can easily tell it to record directly into the format you wish.
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