TABLE OF CONTENTS
Among lots of famous brands we may sometimes come across those who change reference designs of video cards or just ship accelerators with increased frequencies as a separate series.
But you can rarely come across manufacturers who overhaul reference designs in the majority of cases (either designs are now too expensive, or they are just too complex; but even if companies manufacture video cards on their own, they use reference designs).
One of such companies is Palit, whose Mid- and Low-End cards are mostly of a proprietary design and differ from reference designs from ATI or NVIDIA (it's no secret that Palit openly manufactures video cards with processors from both chipmakers).
Having already reviewed video cards from this company, I cannot say that all its solutions were successful. But this fact only rouses interest, because it's obviously boring to review the twentieth reference card.
Today our lab will review two video cards, based on totally different GPUs, but still using the same PCB. That's how Palit engineers managed to cross (if we may say so) X700 and X550 by means of the same PCB. Of course, these are unusual X700 and X550 cards. As we shall see, both cards are equipped with faster memory than required. That's why the X550 got the XT suffix, though there is officially no such ATI product. Nevertheless, the CATALYST driver identified this card as X550 XT.
What concerns PAlit itself, there is no point in describing it to you. Many computer enthusiasts remember cards from this company since their childhood - they used to be sold as noname, as they are sometimes sold now. Just a couple of years ago, the board of directors was sure that there was no need in promoting the brand, they wanted to sell their products as Noname. But now the attitude has changed. More and more often we come across cards in retail packages from Palit, this brand can be often seen in price lists. The company is based in Taiwan, its manufacturing facilities are in China. Two years ago it got under the financial influence of a large Chinese holding, so there appeared more resources for new designs and production development. About a year ago, being on the verge of ruin due to the policy of its former management, Gainward got under the influence of Palit (in a nested doll style). I will not go into details of Palit-Gainward relationships in this article, but they are not simple.
Let's proceed to the cards.
Have you ever seen a $80 product with GDDR3 memory? I cannot recall such cases. And here we can see that a budget X550, which is actually intended for a low $60-$70 segment, is equipped with super fast memory. Our tests show that a 4-pipeline chip operating at 400 MHz does not need such memory. Even the X600XT operating at 500 MHz was content with 760 MHz memory. In this case the memory operates at 900 MHz, while the GPU frequency is lower. Even AA will not save this product, as despite the excessive memory bandwidth, the chip itself cannot cope with this load.
The X700 from Palit (to be more exact, this modification of the X700) is a tad less distinguished from the general line. The card possesses increased memory frequencies (900 MHz instead of standard 700 MHz). The other features are identical to the reference design.
I repeat that the PCB design is unified, the same for both cards, VIVO is not allowed.
Installation and Drivers
VSync is disabled.
We haven't tried overclocking.
Test results: performance comparison
We used the following test applications:
Summary performance diagrams
Palit RADEON X700 128MB PCI-E is just a regular RADEON X700, memory operating frequency increased to 900 MHz yielded just 7-9% of performance gain. But considering that the price for this X700 is on the level of usual X700 cards, it may be a good choice. Is 128 MB of video memory sufficient? Do we really need 256 MB and higher? It's a difficult question. There is still no answer to it. I guess, such relatively weak cards don't need 256 MB, they will still be limited by GPU capacities. On the whole, it's a good product, in terms of pricing and increased memory bandwidth in the first place.
Palit RADEON X550 XT 256MB PCI-E is also a very interesting product. Of course, excessive memory bandwidth is of little use to this card, as its chip is actually half of the previous solution. But if the price keeps within the price range for the X550, why not? You get twice as large memory bandwidth for free! You may try to overclock the core, to profit from such fast memory.
The only shortcoming of this card is no VIVO. The cooling system rouses no censure (but I cannot evaluate possible cooler noise, which may appear after 2-3-4 weeks of usage).
The accelerators were stable, we had no gripes with them, everything was up to the mark. Good 2D quality, I felt no eye-strain even at 1600x1200@85 Hz. In my opinion, there is nothing surprising about it :)
You can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards in our 3Digest.
Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards, which concern functional properties of the GPU ATI RADEON X1800 (R520)/X1600 (RV530)/X1300 (RV515) and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 (NV40/45)/7800 (G70)/6600 (NV43)
Andrey Vorobiev (firstname.lastname@example.org)
February 24, 2006
Write a comment below. No registration needed!