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Review: Connect3D Radeon X800 GTO 256MB PCIe and GECUBE Radeon X800 GTO Ultimate 256MB PCIe

by Tarinder Sandhu on 4 October 2005, 18:33

Tags: CONNECT3D Radeon X800 GTO, Connect 3D

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GECUBE X800 GTO Ultimate 256MB

GECUBE tips its hat into the Radeon X800 GTO ring with a couple of designs. If you're not yet aware, GECUBE is the graphics card brand name that Info-Tek Corp., formed in 1990, trade under. The company has close enough ties with ATI to ensure that it promotes and distributes the entire range of the Canadian company's SKUs.

GECUBE uses a very similar PCB to the one adopted by Connect3D. However. GECUBE's decided that its £124.99-priced Radeon X800 GTO 256MB Ultimate card should carry the firm's excellent UniWise cooling. The cooling apparatus is perhaps the most thoughtful of all ATI's AIBs. Put simply, the copper-based heatsink has a small heatpipe attached to it which helps wick away the heat from the core to the heatsink. The large off-centre fan, which is a favourite for ATI-based cards, then pushes the transferred heat across the heatsink's fins and out into the case. You can see the vertical heatpipe ridge to the right of the cooler.

Here you can see the heatpipe from the other side and how it attaches near the card's core and moves the heat along to the right-hand side. It's little wonder that GECUBE runs with this single-slot design on GPUs higher up ATI's range, as well. Note the size of the UniWise cooler; it's large enough to cover the 4 GDDR3 DRAM modules on the top. GECUBE, thoughtfully, adds in thermal pads between the RAM chips and the cooler.

You can just about see where the heatpipe starts. Note that, unlike Connect3D, GECUBE doesn't include an auxillary PCIe 6-pin power connector. In fact, Connect3D is the only ATI partner that we've seen do so, although both X800 GTO 256MB card use the same PCB size.

The rear of the card holds no surprises whatsoever. GECUBE has omitted VIVO functionality on this model, so it's basic TV-Out from the S-Video port.

Taking away the UniWise cooler and leaving a bare card, we see that GECUBE has opted to use an ATI's X850-class R480 core for its Ultra model. The Ultra moniker, in this case, is actually well-deserved. GECUBE's X800 GTO 256MB card runs with a core speed of 450MHz; 50MHz faster than default. Card memory speed remains at the SKU's 980MHz. You can now appreciate why the UniWise cooling system and R480 core were logical choices for the Ultra model. Further R480 proof, if you needn't it, is provided by looking at the control panel and information contained with ATI Tool

GECUBE uses a large heatsink to cool the memory chips on the back of the card. The whole design makes a lot of sense, as the front-mounted cooler affixes to the one on the rear via 3 small screws. It gives the heatsinks on both sides a decent amount of pressure on both the core and memory chips. You can see just where the Rage Theater VIVO ASIC would be used had GECUBE opted for it.

Bucking the trend of almost every ATI AIB partner's Radeon X800 GTO 256MB cards, GECUBE has chosen Infineon, and not Samsung, as the DRAM provider of choice. A total of 256MB (256MiB) onboard memory is divided into 8 256MBit devices. The GDDR3 memory's rated at 2.0ns, which translates to 1GHz nominal speed. GECUBE leaves a little room for it to breath by specifying it at 980MHz.

GECUBE has decided to add value by offering the consumer an ATI Radeon X800 GTO 256MB card that ships with an overclocked core. The R480-powered 'Ultra's 450MHz core speed is 12.5% faster than a regular GTO 256MB's, so it should benchmark well.


Due to time constraints, GECUBE shipped its Radeon X800 GTO Ultimate 256MB card in white-box packaging. Retail models, we're reliably informed, will include the following:

An S-Video-to-RCA/S-Video cable, composite cable and DVI dongle make up the hardware side of things. There's a basic, generic manual that we've become accustomed to. We're informed that the company will also bundle in CyberLink's PowerDVD 5 (2-channel) and a driver CD to get you going. GECUBE, much like Connect3D, doesn't bundle in any games with its package. The rationale is one based on price. ATI Radeon X800 GTO 256MB cards are essentially budget/midrange offerings, and, as such, potential buyers will be more interested in keen pricing than the odd game, which will inevitably bump up the package's cost.