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Gigabyte RADEON X700 128MB

March 2, 2005








Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Video cards' features
  3. Testbed configurations, benchmarks
  4. Test results: TRAOD
  5. Test results: FarCry Research
  6. Test results: FarCry Regulator
  7. Test results: FarCry Pier
  8. Test results: Half-Life2, ixbt01
  9. Test results: Half-Life2, ixbt02
  10. Test results: Half-Life2, ixbt03
  11. Test results: DOOM III
  12. Test results: 3DMark05 Game1
  13. Test results: 3DMark05 Game2
  14. Test results: 3DMark05 Game3
  15. Test results: 3DMark05 MARKS
  16. Conclusions



As you know, the X700 XT release was accompanied by the announcement of a new series, which included a weaker video card – X700.

Three cards were released:

  1. RADEON X700 XT 128/256 MB, 475/525 (1050) MHz (recommended price: 200-250 USD – this model is out of production)
  2. RADEON X700 PRO 128/256 MB, 425/430 (860) MHz (recommended price: 180-200 USD)
  3. RADEON X700 128/256 MB, 400/350 (700) MHz (recommended price: 120-140 USD).

They are based on the same processor – RV410, its 3D section contains 8 pixel and 6 vertex pipelines. 128-bit memory bus.

We have reviewed video cards based on X700 PRO and X700 XT many times, you can find information on them at the end of this article. But there has been one omission up to now: we could get only emulated X700 performance by reducing operating frequencies in X700 PRO. Besides, we had only 256 MB models, so we test X700 128MB for the first time. So, in some respects it's the first review of such video cards.

What's so remarkable about the X700? First of all, it belongs to the top-sale segment of video cards (120-140 USD). Its competitor is GeForce 6600, which also has 8 pixel pipelines but only 3 vertex ones. Its frequencies are much lower than those of the X700: 300/250 (500) MHz. However, their architectures differ so much that it's stupid to compare them by frequencies. Besides we remember well that GeForce 6800 Ultra at 400-425 MHz offers performance similar to the X800 XT PE at 520 MHz.

But still, both the X700 and 6600 belong to the same price segment so we shall compare them. I also want to note that both cards have the PCI-E interface (evoking ironical smiles or wry faces), but don't forget that this market segment is growing fast.

I guess there is no point in introducing the manufacturer, all our readers without exception know Gigabyte well – it has been working on Russian market for over ten years already. So, let's get straight to business.

Video card



Gigabyte RADEON X700 128MB
Interface: PCI-Express x16

Frequencies (chip/memory – physical (memory – effective): 400/350 (700) MHz (nominal – 400/350 (700) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 6

Number of pixel pipelines: 8

Dimensions: 170x100x20mm (the last value is the maximum thickness of a video card in mid-heatsink section).

PCB color: dark blue.

Output connectors: DVI, d-Sub, S-Video.

VIVO: n/a

TV-out: integrated into GPU.






Gigabyte RADEON X700 128MB
The card has 128 MB DDR SDRAM allocated in 4 chips on the front side of the PCB.

Hynix memory chips. 2.8ns memory access time, which corresponds to 350 (700) MHz.






Comparison with the reference design, front view
Gigabyte RADEON X700 128MB
Gigabyte RADEON X700 PRO 256MB











Comparison with the reference design, back view
Gigabyte RADEON X700 128MB
Gigabyte RADEON X700 PRO 256MB











As you can see, I have compared the X700 with the X700 PRO PCB design from Gigabyte on purpose. It's crystal clear that both products seem identical. But still, the differences exist, they mostly concern the power unit of the card (it's simplified, because the card comes equipped with DDR memory instead of GDDR3). But PCB designs generally match (the X700 PRO from Gigabyte is an exact copy of the reference design).

Let's review the cooling system.

Gigabyte RADEON X700 128MB

I guess there is nothing much to comment, because the device is without a fan. Thus, it certainly produces no noise :)

The heat is dissipated by two rather large heatsinks connected to each other with heat pipes. The plated ornament on the heatsink provides an additional heat dissipating surface.









Now what concerns GPU.




Nothing unexpected. The designation corresponds completely to the chip purpose.

Bundle

Gigabyte RADEON X700 128MB
User's manual, CD with drivers and utilities, TV cord extensions, DVi-to-d-Sub and S-video-to-RCA adapters, HDTV/TV adapter (the modes are switched with a button on the adapter), as well as several modern games.







Package

Gigabyte RADEON X700 128MB

Glossy bright cover made of thin cardboard with a white box made of millboard inside. The box has partitions, but the card is still loose in the box and may dangle.






Installation and Drivers

Testbed configurations:

  • Athlon 64 (939Socket) based computer
    • AMD Athlon 3800+ (2400MHz) (L2=512K)
    • ASUS A8N SLI Deluxe motherboard on NVIDIA nForce4 SLI
    • RAM: 1 GB DDR SDRAM 400MHz
    • HDD: WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA

  • Operating system: Windows XP SP2; DirectX 9.0c
  • Monitors: ViewSonic P810 (21") and Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070sb (21").
  • ATI drivers 6.505 (CATALYST 5.1); NVIDIA drivers 71.80.

VSync is disabled.

Test results: performance comparison

We used the following test applications:

  • Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness v.49 (Core Design/Eldos Software) – DirectX 9.0, Paris5_4 demo. The tests were conducted with the quality set to maximum, only Depth of Fields PS20 was disabled.

  • Half-Life2 (Valve/Sierra) – DirectX 9.0, demo (ixbt01, ixbt02, ixbt03 The tests were carried out with maximum quality, option -dxlevel 90, presets for video card types are removed from dxsupport.cfg.

  • FarCry 1.3 (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, 3 demo from Research, Pier, Regulator levels (the game is started with -DEVMODE option), Very High test settings.

  • DOOM III (id Software/Activision) – OpenGL, multitexturing, test settings – High Quality (ANIS8x), demo ixbt1 (33MB!). We have a sample batch file to start the game automatically with increased speed and reduced jerking (precaching) d3auto.rar. (DO NOT BE AFRAID of the black screen after the first menu, that's how it should be! It will last 5-10 seconds and then the demo should start)

  • 3DMark05 (FutureMark) – DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, test settings – trilinear,



TR:AoD, Paris5_4 DEMO



Test results: TRAOD




In the previous article I have already mentioned that something is wrong with 128 MB ATI video cards, which suddenly fail the tests in AA+AF, which is not the case with their 256 MB counterparts. Here we can see the same failure by the X700. But without AA+AF the picture is contrary, the X700 is the leader.



FarCry, Research



Test results: FarCry Research




Considering average performance in this game, one can say that the X700 is an obvious leader.



FarCry, Regulator



Test results: FarCry Regulator




On the whole it's a gloomy picture for the product from ATI (and from Gigabyte) in this test: the 6600 is faster (1280x1024 with AA+AF mode does not count – the performance is too low for gaming).



FarCry, Pier



Test results: FarCry Pier




This test, on the contrary, brought excellent results and a success to the X700.

That's why it's impossible to rate Far Cry results univocally, though the X700 looks better in most cases.



Half-Life2: ixbt01 demo



Test results: Half-Life2, ixbt01




The situation resembles the first test: the X700 demonstrates phenomenal success and leadership without AA+AF, but with AA+AF the situation changes to the contrary.



Half-Life2: ixbt02 demo



Test results: Half-Life2, ixbt02




Gigabyte demonstrates a brilliant victory here! The competitor is outscored by 50%!



Half-Life2: ixbt03 demo



Test results: Half-Life2, ixbt03




The same picture! The success is still phenomenal, the figures are smaller though.



DOOM III



Test results: DOOM III




At first I wanted to write that there was no point in looking at percents. NVIDIA would be the first in this game anyway... But despite the defeat without AA+AF, the results have given cause for reflection, because the X700 gained an impressive victory over its competitor with AA+AF.

To all appearances, the 6600 droops due to AA (that's Achilles' heel of this card).



3DMark05: Game1



Test results: 3DMark05 Game1






3DMark05: Game2



Test results: 3DMark05 Game2






3DMark05: Game3



Test results: 3DMark05 Game3






3DMark05: MARKS



Test results: 3DMark05 MARKS




X700 is victorious, though its advantage wanes at increasing resolution. However, if you consider the rates shown by 3DMark05 at such resolutions for these cards, this stain on the X700 reputation means almost nothing. :)



Conclusions

  • Gigabyte RADEON X700 128MB is an excellent competitor to GeForce 6600 in general, it often demonstrates higher performance, the only problem is the AA+AF modes (I guess, programmers from the Canadian company have much to think about).

2D quality: 1600x1200x85Hz – excellent! This video card can be recommended to those who love peace and quiet, because this card has no fan. Besides, it offers a decent performance potential. Operating stability is excellent, we have no complaints about it (speaking of this sample).

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







Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards, which concern functional properties of the GPU ATI RADEON X800 (R420)/X850 (R480)/X700 (RV410) and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 (NV40/45)/6600 (NV43)



We express our thanks to
Gigabyte
for the provided video card



Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

March 2, 2005


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