Club 3D Radeon X800XL Inverness

While Club 3D's design is initially a bit of an enigma, the end result makes the same kind of sense as every other Radeon X800XL available in Inverness. As the performance of the Club 3D is so similar to that of the HIS, the buying decision is quite simple: do you need a single-slot card? If you do, then the Club 3D X800XL offers good overclockability, with much lower sound levels than those of cards fitted with the reference HSF.

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Club 3D Radeon X800XL

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Riddle me this, riddle me that: when is a Radeon X800XL not a Radeon X800XL? There comes a point when you modify a product so heavily that it's no longer the same thing it was when it began life.

This could be the case for Club 3D's version of the Radeon X800XL, as it features two major differences from the reference design used by most manufacturers.

The first of these is the cooler. The Club 3D comes fitted with a copper-based HSF that's visually almost identical to the model previously used on the Radeon 9800XT. Adding a different HSF isn't fresh, though, as both the Sapphire Radeon X800XL Ultimate and the HIS X800XL IceQ II Turbo also have non-standard coolers.

However, Club 3D has made the question posed by its Radeon X800XL more interesting by adding an extra PCI-E power socket. The other PCI-E Radeon X800XLs that we've seen so far all get their power from the PCI-E slot.

Changing the cooler is an obvious step because the reference X800XL HSF is noisy. The 9800XT-style HSF that Club 3D has chosen is excellent; it's both quiet and efficient. Adding a power socket is a more mysterious move, especially as the Club 3D only has slightly overclocked memory, 500MHz (1GHz effective), compared with the 490MHz (980MHz effective) of standard cards .

The other difference between the HIS and the Club 3D is that HIS uses an Arctic Cooling Silencer, which is a dual-slot HSF, compared with the latter's single-slot unit.

For most people, this will be a bigger issue than the difference in velocity because, despite HIS putting a turbo on its card, there's not a whole lot of difference in terms of clock speeds and frame rates.

Both HIS and Club 3D spec their cards with 256MB of GDDR3 running at 500MHz (1GHz effective). The only difference is the cores: the Club 3D card comes with the X800XL GPU running at the reference speed of 400MHz, while HIS pushes its card's GPU to 432MHz. This makes only a small difference to the frame rates in the benchmarks. In Far Cry at 1,280 x 1,024 with 4x AA and 8x AF, the Club 3D card averaged 64.4fps - less than 1fps slower than the HIS, a difference that's nothing to write home about.

When it came to overclocking, we found the answers to the riddle of Club 3D's design decisions far from conclusive. With its copper HSF and extra power, the Club 3D X800XL appears to favour memory speeds higher than those of the HIS, but the Arctic Cooling Silencer on the HIS card allowed its core to overclock slightly higher. We managed to benchmark the Club 3D card with a 450MHz GPU and the memory running at 530MHz (1.06GHz effective), compared with the 455MHz GPU and 515MHz memory (1.03GHz effective) achieved by the HIS. Both cards averaged a very quick 47fps in the high-resolution Far Cry test.

Like the HIS, the Club 3D card is nicely packaged and has an interesting bundled game in the form of Colin McRae 04. Graphically, it's every bit as good as Flat Out, the game that HIS bundles with its card, but it's a far more realistic simulation. It's a decent choice, as it's a game not everyone will have, and is definitely worth playing.

CONCLUSION

While Club 3D's design is initially a bit of an enigma, the end result makes the same kind of sense as every other Radeon X800XL. As the performance of the Club 3D is so similar to that of the HIS, the buying decision is quite simple: do you need a single-slot card? If you do, then the Club 3D X800XL offers good overclockability, with much lower sound levels than those of cards fitted with the reference HSF. The only drawback is that it's not as quiet as the HIS.

Author: Josh Blodwell

Club 3D Radeon X800XL