IntroductionOur test sample was provided by Mad Moxx. Thank you.
The graphic card segment is constantly changing. What is new today can be outdated by tomorrow. Most attention is focused upon the upper range of graphics cards – lately, it has been ATI’s X1900 line up, or NVIDIA’s 7800 GTX 512MB. However, most customers do not end up buying top of the line graphic cards. They look for a good compromise between performance and value.
ATI has struck gold with its “warehouse clearance” X800 series. ATI has released some new X800 series cards – the X800GT, and the X800GTO. Both of these models are what we call “dead die SKUs”. What is meant by this? Basically, some of the R4xx cores have manufacturing defects, i.e. they might have some faulty pipelines, so instead of 16 pipelines working (in which case the core might be used for a X850XT), only 8 are available, and so the core is used in a X800GT card. This allows ATI to get rid of GPUs that could not have been used elsewhere. Also, for end buyers perhaps more importantly, once these chips are gone, they're gone forever - so you better buy soon, or there might not be any more left for you!
Mad Moxx comes into all of this with its modified Sapphire X800GTO². First, let’s take a look at the capabilities of the Sapphire X800GTO². As you might have noticed, there is no mention about a X800GTO² version above. This is because the X800GTO² is a special series issued by Sapphire. And what is so special about it, I hear you ask? Well, the most special thing is that it is "guaranteed" to unlock to 16 pipelines – it features the R480 core, which is also used on the X850XT card, for example. The card does not come unlocked from the factory though. It is up to the user to perform a BIOS flash on the card, and thereby unlock the “missing” pipelines.
The blokes at Mad Moxx have kindly unlocked the card for you, and, with their Burstfire edition, they added a little extra. They replaced the stock heatsink with an Arctic Cooling Silencer. The card comes with a warranty on the setup as a whole, so you are not losing your warranty by having an aftermarket cooler. If you install an aftermarket cooler yourself you will lose your original warranty. This cooler adds a beautiful touch, boosting the overall feel. How does it perform? Read on!