Sapphire X800 GTO Ultimate
Though both ATI and Nvidia have their next generation GPU?s packed, stacked and ready for purchase, just before their announcement new R4xx mid-range models appeared. The reason for this is simple. Firstly, the R4xx core is a powerful core, and secondly it allows ATI to use up existing cores which would otherwise end up in the dustbin. This is no more evident than with the X800 GTO, of which it?s sole reason for existence is to use up cores which never made it into much more expensive options such as the X800XL, or even the X850XT PE. You could argue that this happens with any GPU lower than the top of the range offering, where cores that didn?t make the grade are used in GPU?s with lower specifications, like 12 pipes instead of 16 where four might be defunct and therefore switched off, never to be used. But the X800GTO is different. It uses up cores which were intended for use in a variety of different cards. You could end up with an R480 core, or an R430, it?s the luck of the draw.
Essentially it is no different than speed binning CPU?s where, for example, the best cores will end up in A64 4000+ and the lesser will end up in 3000+ models. Nothing wrong with this, it allows ATI to make money on something that would otherwise end up on the scrap heap, and give us end-users some extremely cheap, powerful GPU?s just like the ones on review here today from Sapphire and Connect3D.
Another reason why this can sometimes work to the end users advantage is that when this type of thing starts to happen, you know that overclocking headroom is going to be high, much higher than cores specifically designed to do a low end job. For this reason I expect a lot of these cards to overclock hard.
Looking at the table above you can see which card performances are targets for X800 GTO overclocking. The X800 GTO is a 12 pipe core with 400/980 clocks. If you can overclock these cards to 520/1080 you will have yourself the performance of an X850 Pro, a card which is currently double the price of the X800 GTO! Surely X800 GTO?s won?t clock that far, will they??
While we?re on the subject of overclocking, there has been a lot of fuss over X800 GTO?s being moddable to 16 pipes, essentially bringing the performance of a ?120 card within reach of the X850XT PE. In this review I will not be attempting this bios mod as it is by no means guaranteed to work. Your X800 GTO must have an R480 core and as you can end up with R430?s I don?t think something as risky as this should influence a review. If you like the idea of modding to 16 pipes you should look at the X800 GTO2 , of which is of limited supply and only sold by Sapphire, so you best hurry up! I?ll also add that not all the R480 cores are moddable either, you should visit here to discover if yours is likely to be moddable.