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HIS Excalibur RADEON X600XT Limited Edition VIVO

September 2, 2004










Contents

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



New platforms with PCI-Express support (hereinafter PCX) are just beginning to appear on the market, but manufacturers of video cards are in a hurry to introduce their solutions for the new slot.

We have already reviewed such video cards before. For today ATI officially released: RADEON X600 XT, RADEON X600 PRO, RADEON X300, RADEON X300SE. There already officially exists RADEON X800XT/PRO for the new slot, but these cards are not on sale yet. All these cards are almost complete counterparts of their AGP brothers, there are absolutely no differences in the functions supported. So our previous reviews about the RADEON 9600 series may help you find out what these video cards are capable of.

Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards, which concern functional properties of the GPU ATI RADEON 9500/9600/9700/9800 (R300-R350)

It should be noted that I wrote the above line "almost complete counterparts" on purpose. Yes, X600 XT has some small frequency differences from AGP-cards. RADEON 9600XT operates at 500/300 (600) MHz, and X600 XT - at 500/380 (760) MHz.

It's clear that considering the memory bandwidth bottleneck of such video cards, the increase of local memory operation speed will have its effect. We have already proven that in our previous reviews.

Now about this video card. This is a product from HIS, and I hope there is no need in introducing it to you. This company from Hong Kong has strongly advanced on the Russian market for the last year and its video cards have become very popular.

Even the name of HIS Excalibur RADEON X600XT Limited Edition VIVO speaks for its exclusive nature. Indeed, with its VIVO support this video card stands out from its counterparts from other manufacturers. The PCB contains a special cooler with illumination. But the most interesting thing is not its LED but the efficiency of this cooler, which is able to reduce the temperature by 11 degrees more than a usual reference cooler. The bundle also differs from regular package contents.

But let's take a closer look at the card.

Video card



HIS Excalibur RADEON X600XT Limited Edition VIVO





HIS Excalibur RADEON X600XT Limited Edition VIVO
The card has the PCI-E 16x interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM allocated in 8 chips on the front and the back sides of the PCB.

Hynix memory chips. 2.5ns memory access time, which corresponds to 400 (800) MHz. Memory operates at 380 (760) MHz. GPU frequency — 500 MHz. 128bit memory bus. Pixel pipelines x texture units - 4x1.






Comparison with the reference design, front view
HIS Excalibur RADEON X600XT Limited Edition VIVO
Reference card ATI RADEON 9600XT








Comparison with the reference design, back view
HIS Excalibur RADEON X600XT Limited Edition VIVO
Reference card ATI RADEON 9600XT








It obviously differs from RADEON 9600XT not only by a different interface, but also by a mounting seat for RAGE Theater, which is responsible for VIVO. Thus ATI at last silently allowed its partners to use VIVO in their video cards without changing the design.

Before proceeding to the PCB, have a glance at the cooling system.

HIS Excalibur RADEON X600XT Limited Edition VIVO

As I have already said above, the cooling system is very effective and almost noiseless at the same time. In fact it's a small heatsink with a fan in the middle and a copper insert at the base.

And of course the card looks very attractive with its illumination in transparent or windowed cases.

It should also be noted that memory chips are equipped with heatsinks, which allow to raise the overclocking potential of the card.









The card contains a processor responsible for VIVO:




Let's see what's inside the packages.

HIS Excalibur RADEON X600XT Limited Edition VIVO
The box contains CDs with system software, ULead VideoStudio 7E (for VIVO support), 3DAlbum Picture-EZ, CD with game demos. The bundle also contains: user's guide, S-Video-to-RCA and DVI-to-d-Sub adapters, TV-out cord extensions, VIVO cable. Unfortunately, there are no games in the bundle despite the Limited Edition.




 

HIS Excalibur RADEON X600XT Limited Edition VIVO
The box is in a traditional for HIS style (white-blue colors), the wrapper is with raised impressions. Inside is a box made of white millboard. All bundle components are placed in compartments, so that nothing rumbles inside the box when you carry it.







Installation and Drivers

Testbed configurations:

  • Pentium4 3200 MHz (Prescott) based computer
    • Intel Pentium4 3200 MHz (L2=1024K, LGA775) CPU
    • ABIT AA8 DuraMAX mainboard based on i925X
    • 1 GB DDR2 SDRAM 266MHz
    • WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA HDD

  • Pentium 4 3200 MHz (Northwood) based computer
    • Intel Pentium 4 3200 MHz (L2=512K, Socket478) CPU
    • ASUS P4C800 Delux mainboard based on i875P
    • 1024 MB DDR SDRAM
    • WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA HDD

  • Athlon 64 3200+ based computer
    • AMD Athlon 64 3200+ (L2=1024K) CPU
    • ASUS K8V SE Deluxe mainboard based on VIA K8T800
    • 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 v6.458 (CATALYST 4.7); NVIDIA drivers v61.76.

VSync is disabled.

Test results:

Before giving a brief evaluation of 2D, I will repeat that at present there is NO valid method for objective evaluation of this parameter due to the following reasons:

  1. 2D quality in most modern 3D accelerators dramatically depends on a specific sample, and it's impossible to evaluate all the cards.
  2. 2D quality depends not only on the video card, but also on the monitor and a cable.
  3. A great impact on this parameter has been recently demonstrated by monitor-card combos, that is there are monitors, which just won't "work" with specific video cards.

What concerns the combo of our sample under review and Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070sb, this card demonstrated the excellent quality in the following resolutions and frequencies:

HIS Excalibur RADEON X600XT Limited Edition VIVO 1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x100Hz


Test results: performance comparison

We used the following test applications:

  • Unreal 2: The Awakening (Infogrames), DirectX 8.1, multitexturing, tests are performed using the Bench'emAll! 2.5beta utility.

  • 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, demo (ixbt07. Tests are carried out with enabled anisotropic filtering (16x - ATI, 8x/16x - NVIDIA).

  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell v.1.2b (UbiSoft) - Direct3D, Vertex/Pixel Shaders 1.1/2.0, Hardware T&L, Very High settings; demo 1_1_2_Tbilisi. Note that antialiasing does not work in this game.

  • 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, test settings are provided here.

  • Far Cry v.1.2 (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, demo01 (the game is started with the option -DEVMODE), test settings – Very High.

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

Performance

Well, what can I say? As it has been already said above, such video cards are able to match GeForce PCX5900 in state-of-the-art games (our research proved that even in Doom III such ATI cards keep on the level with their counterparts from NVIDIA).

Conclusions

So, in our lab we have tested a Middle-End workhorse on the verge of junior High-End class for the new platform on PCX. Now the only available series is i925/915, but more chipsets with PCX support are coming soon, so the popularity of video cards with the new interface will definitely grow. But how fast? - It's a difficult question.

I suppose that AGP systems will endure at least a year or a year and a half. And then the demand for these cards will fall into a nosedive. But it's just my forecast.

What concerns HIS Excalibur RADEON X600XT Limited Edition VIVO, it's a wonderful video card, outstanding in its class. Relatively low price (in comparison with the competitors), VIVO support, interesting design with illumination, good overclocking potential (by the way, memory on this video card managed to operate even at 870 MHz!). Plus an excellent quality of manufacture and high stability of operation. And here it is - a high quality and interesting product. Of course, if you are interested in PCX video cards at all :).

I can note the following drawbacks: Limited Edition can actually be given to a product for its luxurious bundle (it's not the case with this video card), for initially raised operating frequencies (not available either), or for an exclusive design. So such aplomb from HIS is not quite clear to me.

In our 3DiGest you can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards.








Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

2004


31.08.2004


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