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GeCube RADEON 9550 XT Extreme,
GeCube RADEON X800 PRO

July 5, 2004



CONTENTS

  1. Video cards' features
  2. Testbed configurations, benchmarks, 2D quality
  3. Test results: Performance comparison
  4. Conclusions


We reviewed a couple of video cards of the same, shall we put it, parity not long ago: RADEON 9550 and RADEON X800 PRO. These were the products from HIS. Today this tradition is evolving and now we are facing almost similar products, but from GeCube.

By the way, below is a list of our previous reviews of all the latest novelties from ATI and NVIDIA.

Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards, which concern functional properties of ATI RADEON X800 (R420) and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 (NV40) GPUs

The manufacturer is Info-Tek Corporation, presently known under a new GeCube brand (aka Gigacube, but this name became a thing of the past). In some places you may run across another spelling of this brand "GeXcube" - this is the same as GeCube, «» is simply added as a decoration.

The Info-Tek company was founded 14 years ago, in 1990. But in 2000 it abruptly changed its business profile with the introduction of a new team, and now the company manufactures a range of PC componentry, specializing in video cards based on ATI chipsets.

Today X800 PRO, one of the most powerful video cards, which is a reference card per se, will not be the only video card under review. As is well known, such products are manufactured in a single place (one factory) and thus they are identical for all vendors, they differ only by labels. But still, it's interesting to have a look at a specific video card, because of the bundle shipped with this card.

So, X800 PRO was not the only video card examined in our laboratory, we also reviewed a very intriguing product - RADEON 9550 XT. The XT suffix makes it clear that it's something enhanced or overclocked (that's what ATI means by this suffix). Indeed, as we shall see, GeCube RADEON 9550 XT Extreme is almost on the point of overtaking RADEON 9600 PRO. An interesting approach and an interesting solution - to give the public the same RADEON 9600, but operating at higher clock frequencies.

But the price will be a deciding factor. If the price is really on the level with that of RADEON 9600, this video card will be much in demand, because the Middle and Upper Low sectors experience the growth trend of demand for ATI products, which possess "sweeter" features for consumers.

So, let's look in on our laboratory, where the new GeCube products have been tested.



Video cards



GeCube RADEON X800 PRO
GeCube RADEON 9550 XT Extreme




GeCube RADEON X800 PRO
The card has AGP x8/x4 interface and a 256 Mb GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in 8 chips on the front and the back sides of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR3). 2.0ns memory access time, which corresponds to 500 (1000) MHz, memory operates at 450 (900) MHz. GPU frequency — 475 MHz. 256-bit memory bus.

GeCube RADEON 9550 XT Extreme
The card has AGP x8/x4 interface and a 128 Mb DDR SDRAM allocated in 8 chips on the front and the back sides of the PCB.

EtronTech memory chips (BGA). 3.3ns memory access time, which corresponds to 300 (600) MHz; memory operates at 250 (500) MHz. GPU frequency 400 MHz. 128-bit memory bus. Note the higher frequencies in comparison with a common RADEON 9550 (250/200 (400) MHz).





Comparison with the reference design, front view
GeCube RADEON X800 PRO Reference card ATI RADEON X800 PRO
GeCube RADEON 9550 XT Extreme Reference card ATI RADEON 9600 XT


Comparison with the reference design, back view
GeCube RADEON X800 PRO Reference card ATI RADEON X800 PRO
GeCube RADEON 9550 XT Extreme Reference card ATI RADEON 9600 XT


What concerns X800 PRO, obviously, there is no need in a further description of the card, as it is the same reference card before us. And besides, all X800-cards are manufactured in a single place by ATI demand, vendors just attaching their stickers.

But GeCube RADEON 9550 XT Extreme is very interesting. We can see, that though the card has a design similar to RADEON 9600 XT (comparison with this card was not accidental, in fact the PCB of the card contains a symbolic notation RG96XT, which certifies PCB's belonging to 9600 XT), it has its distinctions, mostly concerned with the RAGE Theater (VIVO) arrangement, though the codec itself is not installed.

Note that this card is equipped with a massive cooler with a fan:

The design is obviously styled after the well-known cooling system from RADEON 9800 XT. Actually, such a cooler may be indeed necessary, because the core is heavily overclocked from 250 up to 400 MHz (as it turned out later, it's still RV360, not RV350, and thus its operation at 400 MHz is quite possible, though the chip is marked as 9550).

The cooler was adhered fast to the chip, that's why the marking is so blurry.

Let's examine the box and accessories.

GeCube RADEON X800 PRO
The box contains a user guide, CD with drivers, PowerDVD, games Counter-Strike: CZ and Yager (DVD); TV extension cords, DVI-to-d-Sub, HDTV, and SVideo-to-RCA adapters; external power supply adapter.
 
GeCube RADEON 9550 XT Extreme
The only difference from the previous bundle is the lack of the game Yager and an HDTV adapter. And of course it does not contain an external power supply adapter.


And now let's have a look at the boxes:

GeCube RADEON X800 PRO

Both boxes are in the same style and design.

GeCube RADEON 9550 XT Extreme

It's a jacket made of thin cardboard in a black-and-white key, shouting about the CS:CZ game inside. Inside the jacket is a millboard box.



Installation and drivers

Testbed configurations:

  • Pentium 4 3200 MHz based computer
    • Intel Pentium 4 3200 MHz CPU;
    • ASUS P4C800 Deluxe (i875P) mainboard;
    • 1024 MB DDR SDRAM;
    • Seagate Barracuda IV 40GB HDD;
  • Athlon 64 3200+ based computer
    • AMD Athlon 64 3200+ (L2=1024K) CPU;
    • ASUS K8V SE Deluxe (VIA K8T800) mainboard;
    • 1 GB DDR SDRAM PC3200;
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 80GB SATA HDD.
  • Operating system - Windows XP SP1; DirectX 9.0b;
  • Monitors - ViewSonic P810 (21") and Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070sb (21").
  • ATI drivers v6.451 (CATALYST 4.6); NVIDIA v61.34.

VSync is disabled

Test results: Performance comparison

We used the following test applications:

  • Unreal 2: The Awakening (Infogrames), DirectX 8.1, multitexturing, tests performed with an auxiliary package Bench'emAll! 2.5beta.

  • RightMark 3D (one of the game scenes) — DirectX 8.1, Dot3, cube texturing, shadow buffers, vertex and pixel shaders (1.1, 1.4). Test settings: pixel shaders 1.1, shadow buffers OFF.

  • Half-Life2 (Valve/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, two different recorded demos (ixbt07 and coast). Tested with anisotropic filtering enabled.

  • Call of Duty (MultiPlayer) (Infinity Ward/Activision) — OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0104demo, test settings — maximum, S3TC ON

  • Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness v.49 (Core Design/Eldos Software) - DirectX 9.0, Paris5_4 demo, the test settings can be downloaded from here.

  • Far Cry v.1.1 (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, demo01 (the game is started with the key -DEVMODE), test settings - Very High.

If you want to get the demo-benchmarks, which we use, contact me at my e-mail.

Performance



Conclusions

Firstly, GeCube RADEON 9550 XT Extreme.

According to the test results, this card rates between RADEON 9600 and 9600 PRO. I think, that the memory frequency was deliberately lowered, not to mix it up with RADEON 9600 PRO and not to irritate ATI with this issue.

This type of video cards is nearly the most successful among users, so if the price range of GeCube RADEON 9550 XT Extreme is within 110-120 USD, this card may become very popular, also taking into account its accessories in the box and appearance. This card will most likely please overclockers as well. Looking forward to seeing this video card enter the market. What concerns our impressions of the card itself - they are very good. A real quality product, it offers good stability in work and a low-noise cooler (no joking, with this configuration the cooler is completely quiet). 2D quality of this specimen is very good: 1600x1200 at 85Hz everything is perfect. Core overclocking is not bad, but still the main role in these cards is played by the CPU bus bandwidth, and the 3.3ns memory is not that good at overclocking: 340 (680) MHz - maximum. Note a decent set of accessories - it's a plus.

GeCube RADEON X800 PRO

This video card is a copy of the reference design, but the sticker is nicer and more pleasant than the «native ATI» one with another set of bared teeth. There are no reprimands concerning its operation, the card is quite stable. 2D quality of this specimen is up to the mark: 1600x1200 at 85Hz - no reprimands. Overclocking capacity of this specimen is not bad at all: 530/1140 MHz.

This card ships with an enviable set of accessories (Yager is a rare game in such boxes). But, you know, it's all up to the price.





According to the test results GeCube RADEON 9550 XT Extreme merits the Original Design award (June).



Andrew Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

June 5, 2004

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