The ATI RADEON 8500 based cards with 128 MBytes memory are widely available on the market, but today we turn to older models. There is also a great number old such cards. I mean the RADEON 8500LE. If you look through our 3Digest you will find 5 kinds of RADEON 8500 cards.
The cards actually differ only in frequencies. But there are some other factors which can be vital when you are choosing a card four your needs. In particular, a lot of manufacturers do not bundle the card with a second RAMDAC and the cards, thus, loses one more trump - normal dual-head support. You can display an image on two monitors, but this will be only the clone mode. Moreover, you can't change a resolution on the second monitor. It also concerns the TV-out.
But if it were only frequencies and a second RAMDAC... The manufacturers decided to save on their products and used memory different from what ATI recommended.
Till recently we came across such a solution only once - it was a card from Joytech. By the way, below you can look through a list of reviews of the latest RADEON 8500/7500 products published on our site.
Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards which concern functional properties of the ATI RADEON 8500/7500 GPU
The last card in the list has a design that deviates from the ATI's reference one. Today we will take a look at one more such card, this time from XpertVision.
The card has an AGP x2/x4 interface, 64 MBytes
DDR SGRAM located in 4 chips on the front side of the PCB.
The card has the 's own design. The dimensions of the card are smaller, the card uses inexpensive DDR SGRAM memory from Samsung (such memory usually comes on GeForce4 MX440 cards).
There is no a second RAMDAC. However, there is space for it to the upper left of the chip on the front side. That is why I'm sure that there are the same cards on the market with the second RAMDAC installed. On the whole, the design is simplified considerably.
The card is bundled with an ordinary cooler which is quite enough as the chip doesn't heat up considerably.
The heatsink is easy to take off (it is attached
with clips), and here is the heart of the card:
It is produced at the end of 2001, A13 revision.
The card has DVI and d-Sub connectors and a TV-out. The latter is supported by the RAGE THEATER.
Quality of operation of the Dual Head / TV-out was estimated many times (see the list above). But with the lacking second RAMDAC these capabilities become crippled.
The set of accessories is simple:
The card achieved really good results, though the memory from Samsung in the old package can work only a tad faster.
Test system and drivers
The test system was coupled with ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors.
In the tests we used ATI's drivers of v6.058. VSync
was off, S3TC was off.
I expected 2D quality to be quite bad, but it isn't so. However, the images are not so sharp in 1600x1200@85 Hz as with the RADEON 8500 produced by ATI. Good quality can be achieved only at 75 Hz in this resolution. Or in 1280x1024 at 85 Hz. Remember that this parameter much depends on a certain sample and on how the card gets along with a monitor.
For estimation of 3D quality we used:
The tests were carried out in a 32-bit color mode.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Despite the HyperZ-2 technology of the RADEON 8500, this card depends much on the memory. The XpertVision RADEON 8500LE overclocked up to 300 MHz (chip) failed to catch up with the card working at 275/550 MHz. Just because its memory worked at 510 MHz.
Comanche4 Benchmark Demo
This test is very tough for the RADEON 8500, and first of all in 1600x1200. The test depends mainly on the GPU than on the video memory. However, the central processor is even more important here.
3D Mark2001 SE
Game1 Low Details
As the resolution increases the advantage of the overclocked XpertVision over the same card but working at the rated speed weakens.
Game2 Low Details
This test has the similar results.
Game3 Low Details
This test is very GPU intensive, that is why the overclocked XpertVision scores better results. On the whole, the performance difference between all cards is smaller.
In this test the ATI cards outscore NVIDIA models for several months already. And only in 1600x1200 the RADEON 8500LE loses.
On the one hand, this RADEON 8500LE based card is very similar to its siblings (it's interesting that some time ago we meant only ATI by the word RADEON, and now the market offers a great range of RADEON 8500LE based cards of various calibers.
But it has a unique design. Which brings both a lower price and some disadvantages. First of all, it is poorer 2D quality, though the difference is inconsiderable. Lack of the second RAMDAC is not a drawback of the video card, but of the given sample (because the space for it is provided). Earlier we also saw some cards based on the ATI's reference design which didn't have a second RAMDAC.
The main advantage of this card is a low price. It costs some $150. But taking into account that the latest GeForce4 Ti 4200 64 MBytes cards are already available at $160-180, the RADEON 8500LE may lose its fans very soon if the manufacturers do not reduce prices. I mean normal RADEON 8500LE cards running at 250/500 MHz.
The complete characteristics of video cards of this and other classes can be found in our 3Digest.
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