ATi Radeon X1800 XL review

Price when reviewed

Coupled with all this gaming power is AVIVO. This is ATi’s brand name for the hardware decoding and encoding that feature on all X1000 graphics cards. As well as standard decoding algorithms, there’s H.264 support (the new compression standard for Blu-ray and HD-DVD). This requires a lot of work to decode, so offloading as much as possible to the GPU (which is designed for this type of work) will help keep Blu-ray and HD-DVD-equipped PCs responsive. As standard, AVIVO outputs a 10-bit signal, which is also great for 10-bit panels like the NEC SpectraView Reference 21. Standard panels can still reap the benefits by dithering down to 8-bit colour depth for fewer visual errors and better colour handling.

But while the X1800 XL is certainly a fast card, it’s difficult to say exactly how fast as yet. The Far Cry and Half-Life 2 scores prove the X1800 XL is more than a match for the 7800 GT, but with no HDR score it’s impossible to declare a winner in the latest battle. If it follows the trend of these early tests, it will be very fast indeed. We’ll bring you the conclusive results next month.

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