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PowerColor RADEON 9600 PRO EZ 256MB
PowerColor RADEON 9200SE 128MB
PowerColor RADEON 7000 64MB

September 10, 2003








CONTENTS

  1. Video card features
  2. Testbed, test tools, 2D quality
  3. Test results: performance diagrams
  4. Conclusion


ATI's summer decision to attack the low-end market sector resulted in the launch of the cheapest RADEON named RADEON 9200SE. There is also RADEON 7000 (former VE), but these chips are not produced anymore, and if someone keeps on making such cards he must be drawing the chips from the gray market or from what remains in stock. Today we will speak about such card as well.

So, let's get back to the RADEON 9200SE. This is an extremely slow card based on the RADEON 9200 with the core clock cut down from 250 to 200 MHz and with the memory bus being 64bit though it's still DDR. Plus, the memory clock is also reduced from 200 (400) to 166 (333) MHz.

The card is actually as speedy as the GeForce2 MX400 but it fully supports the DirectX 8.1. This product is positioned for the office PC sector where the 3D power is not that vital. At the same time, the card possesses all other features typical of the latest RADEONs such as TV-out, two "heads" and equal built-in RAMDACs.

But the cost price is pretty low (about $10) because for the 9200SE they use chips that didn't meet the clock speed requirements for the RADEON 9200, the PCB is cheap because of the 64bit bus (4 layers only), and there're only 4 chips of the inexpensive 6ns memory. That is why the retail price for such cards shouldn't exceed $40-45 (if you saw them at $50 and over, it's just because they are new).

The RADEON 9200SE was presented at ATI's conference recently held in Moscow.

In to the Middle-End sector where 3D graphics plays a more vital role ATI offers two solutions: RADEON 9600 & RADEON 9600 PRO. We've got a lot of reviews of video cards based on these processors, which can be found in the list below.

Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards which concern functional properties of the GPU ATI RADEON 9500/9600/9700/9800

What if we make a hybrid of the RADEON 9600 and 9600 PRO? Well, this is what C.P.Technology did: it launched the RADEON 9600 PRO EZ. This solution is based on a cheaper PCB from the RADEON 9600, has cheaper TSOP memory, but the chip used is RADEON 9600 PRO (400 MHz). That resulted in a card with just the memory clock lowered (relative the RADEON 9600 PRO - 200 (400) MHz instead of 300 (600)). Later on we will estimate its performance, but do remember that it's just a bit dearer than the RADEON 9600.

Two cards out of three tested are already described, and the third one is RADEON 7000. This is the lowmost Low-End. We will omit its 3D functions (DirectX 7.0, and the lack of Hardware TCL is bad for a 3D accelerator of 2003). This is actually a 2D card, but it nonetheless possesses a fully multi-monitor support and a TV-out. We included it into the review just because it was interesting that cards based on so ancient core are still produced and still in demand as they are often used for budget PCs.

PowerColor is a widely known trade mark of C.P.Technology which has its headquarters and production facilities in Taiwan. It was recently restructured, and now it has stricter quality control, different marketing plans and a more aggressive policy on the Russian market. This is one of ATI's first partners. 

Cards

PowerColor RADEON 9600 PRO EZ 256MB


PowerColor RADEON 9200SE 128MB


PowerColor RADEON 7000 64MB



PowerColor RADEON 9600 PRO EZ 256MB
AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 256 MB DDR SDRAM memory in 8 chips on both PCB sides.

Elixir memory chips of  5ns access time, it corresponds to 200 (400) MHz, and the memory works at this clock speed. The GPU runs at 400 MHz. 128bit memory interface. 




PowerColor RADEON 9200SE 128MB
AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM memory in 4 chips on both PCB sides.

Elixir memory chips of  6ns access time, it corresponds to 166 (333) MHz, and the memory works at this clock speed. The GPU runs at 200 MHz. 64bit memory interface. 




PowerColor RADEON 7000 64MB
AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 64 MB DDR SDRAM memory in 4 chips on both PCB sides.

Hynix memory chips of  5ns access time, it corresponds to 200 (400) MHz, but the memory, as well as the GPU, works at 155 MHz. These are extremely low clock speeds relative to the default ones (183/183 (366) MHz). 64bit memory interface.





 
Comparison with the reference design, front view
PowerColor RADEON 9600 PRO EZ 256MB Reference card ATI RADEON 9600 PRO






Reference card ATI RADEON 9600






PowerColor RADEON 9200SE 128MB Reference card ATI RADEON 9200






PowerColor RADEON 7000 64MB Reference card ATI RADEON VE 64MB










 
Comparison with the reference design, back view
PowerColor RADEON 9600 PRO EZ 256MB Reference card ATI RADEON 9600 PRO






Reference card ATI RADEON 9600



PowerColor RADEON 9200SE 128MB Reference card ATI RADEON 9200






PowerColor RADEON 7000 64MB Reference card ATI RADEON VE 64MB







 

The design of the cards is different. Only the PowerColor RADEON 9600 PRO EZ 256MB is similar to the RADEON 9600 in layout but not to the RADEON 9600 PRO.

The coolers are very unsophisticated :-). Only the PowerColor RADEON 9600 PRO EZ 256MB has the one with a fan, the rest have simple sinks.
 
   

PowerColor RADEON 9600 PRO EZ 256MB
Just look at the base of this cooler! It doesn't look to be polished at all! And such surface touches the open die!



   

Look what can happen to it. The die's edge is broken off! Thankfully, it hasn't affected yet the overall performance.
 
 






Here are the other processors:
 

PowerColor RADEON 7000 64MB




Unfortunately, the heatsink is so well glued to the 9200SE that taking it off could have damaged the card.

The accessories:
 

PowerColor RADEON 9600 PRO EZ 256MB 
User guide, TV extender, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter, software (drivers and WinDVD).


PowerColor RADEON 9200SE 128MB
User guide, CD with drivers and utilities, TV extender, a bracket for its installation into low-profile PC cases (only the DVI head works in this case).


PowerColor RADEON 7000 64MB
User guide, CD with drivers and utilities, TV extender.



 
Finally, here are the packages:

PowerColor RADEON 9600 PRO EZ 256MB 
All the boxes are in the single style.


PowerColor RADEON 9200SE 128MB
They have different dimensions and stickers. For example, the suffixes SE and EZ.


PowerColor RADEON 7000 64MB
The memory size is written on the sticker as well. 



 

 

Testbed and drivers

Testbed: 

  • Pentium 4 3200 MHz based computer:
    • Intel Pentium 4 3200 MHz CPU;
    • DFI LANParty Pro875 (i875P) mainboard; 
    • 1024 MB DDR SDRAM; 
    • Seagate Barracuda IV 40GB HDD; 
    • Windows XP SP1; DirectX 9.0a;
    • ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors.
    • ATI drivers v6.368.

VSync off, S3TC off in applications. 

Test results

Before we start examining 2D quality, I should say there are no complete techniques for objective 2D quality estimation because: 

  1. 2D quality much depends on certain samples for almost all modern 3D accelerators; 
  2. Besides videocards, 2D quality depends on monitors and cables; 
  3. Moreover, certain monitors might not work properly with certain video cards. 

With the ViewSonic P817 monitor and BNC Bargo cable the card showed excellent quality at the following resolutions and clock speeds:

PowerColor RADEON 9600 PRO EZ 256MB  1600x1200x75Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz
PowerColor RADEON 9200SE 128MB 1600x1200x75Hz, 1280x1024x85Hz, 1024x768x100Hz
PowerColor RADEON 7000 64MB 1600x1200x75Hz, 1280x1024x85Hz, 1024x768x85Hz

Test results: cards' performance

Test applications:

  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein (MultiPlayer) (id Software/Activision) - OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703-demo, test settings - maximum, S3TC OFF, the configurations can be downloaded from here

  •  

     

    Test order: press '~' to invoke the console then type: 

    timedemo 1 (press Enter)
    demo [file name] (press Enter)
  • Unreal 2: The Awakening (Infogrames), DirectX 8.1, multitexturing, tested with the additional packet Bench'emAll! 2.5beta.

  •  
  • Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v.1.05 (Croteam/GodGames) - OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703demo, test settings: quality. 

  • Test order: press '~' to invoke the console then type:

    dem_bProfile=1 (press Enter)
    start the demo from the menu
  • Codecreatures Benchmark Pro (Codecult) - Direct3D, Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, high quality

  • Test order: 

    Codecreatures Benchmark Pro.exe (press Enter) Select a required test in the menu, or run the tests (in the Official Benchmark submenu) starting from 1600x1200 up to 1024x768.
  • Unreal Tournament 2003 v.2225 (Digital Extreme/Epic Games) - Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality

  • ixbt0703demo test scene.
     

  • 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.

Performance

Conclusion

The slow memory onto the PowerColor RADEON 9600 PRO EZ 256MB had a really bad effect on its performance. Its speed is much closer now to the RADEON 9600, and the price, if it's not much higher than that of the RADEON 9600, can be a real ring-buoy.

PowerColor RADEON 9200SE 128MB beats the GeForce FX 5200 64bit in the most tests but the latter supports the DirectX 9.0. However, who needs the DX9 in the market sector where the speeds are low? Maybe just in 640x480...

The PowerColor RADEON 7000 64MB can be used only for 2D graphics, and this card can be of interest for office PC assemblers and those who look for cheap cards with good 2D functions for upgrading office computers. The prices for such cards are pretty low today and agree with their features.

In our 3Digest you can find full comparison characteristics for video cards of this and other classes. 
 
 

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)
 

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