iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






PowerColor RADEON X700 256MB AGP

Based on ATI RADEON X700


  1. Introduction
  2. Video cards' features
  3. Testbed configurations, benchmarks
  4. Test results: summary performance diagrams
  5. Conclusions

Indeed, more attention has been paid to PCI-Express of late. That's quite reasonable, it's the future. However, the market share of AGP platforms (and consequently of the corresponding video cards) is still rather large, so it's too early to write off this segment. Moreover, it also requires new products, especially in those price segments, which hadn't enjoyed them for a long time.

I am not going to describe the mistake made by Canadian ATI Technologies a year ago, when it had started totally ignoring AGP video cards in the price segment within 130 - 300 USD. The aftershock has come only recently in the form of losses in the fiscal quarter balance. This spring the company suddenly woke up and released new AGP solutions (counterparts of the not-so-new PCI-Express models) based on the PCIE-to-AGP RIALTO bridge. Judging from the weak demand for these cards, we can draw a conclusion that the company was late. The pie is already divided and served out.

Even the X800 AGP cards are of little interest, because most users in this sector already have GeForce 6800/6800LE. If we go down to the prices from $150 to $190, or even from $120 to $190, ATI is a bit low on this segment now: the RADEON 9800 PRO has already done its time, its price is evidently not adequate to its features, the GeForce 6600GT is superior in every respect. The 9600XT is too weak for modern games and must go down below $100. So what's left between them? - Nothing. However, Canadian strategists don't get disheartened. They let the 9800 PRO "inhabit" this sector, to be gradually pushed down by the X800 AGP. They even cancelled the X700 AGP release. Their plan is simple: the AGP segment will shrink significantly before the new cards come out; only Low-End video cards will still be in demand and there is plenty of old solutions in this sector.

However, the company made a mistake again. But now it had to do with its partners. Well, if the Canadian company doesn't care about profits from the 120-170 USD sector (AGP video cards), its partners still care. They want to make money as long as possible, till there is any demand in this sector. Thus there appeared X700 AGP video cards, manufactured without ATI (does the company from Toronto sell chips and bridges separately? - It does. Well, designing a PCB with a 128bit bus taking into account the RIALTO bridge is not at all difficult).

Thus, there appeared the X700 AGP in the 120-140 USD segment, and the 150-180 USD niche got occupied by the X700 PRO AGP. Let's review both cards. Unfortunately we didn't manage to get the products with the same memory size.

I repeat that now almost all articles will include video clips, which will be brief but more illustrious concerning new products. There will be three formats: the best quality (MPEG1), average and low quality (WMV). So,

Remember that the RADEON X700 is actually a middle end product, it supports only a 128-bit bus (well, you can also downgrade it to 64 bits), 8 pixel and 4 vertex pipelines, and DirectX 9.0c.

Video Cards

PowerColor RADEON X700 256MB AGP
Interface: AGP 2x/4x/8x

Frequencies (chip/memory — physical (memory — effective): 400/266 (533) MHz (nominal - 400/350 (700) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 4

Number of pixel pipelines: 8

Dimensions: 185x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

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

VIVO: Not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.

Interface: AGP 2x/4x/8x

Frequencies (chip/memory — physical (memory — effective): 425/450 (900) MHz (nominal - 425/430 (860) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 4

Number of pixel pipelines: 8

Dimensions: 190x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

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

VIVO: Not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.

PowerColor RADEON X700 256MB AGP
The video card has 256 MB of DDR SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front and back sides of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips. 3.0ns memory access time, which corresponds to 333 (666) MHz.

The video card has 128 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in four chips on the front side of the PCB.

Infineon memory chips (GDDR3). 2.0ns memory access time, which corresponds to 500 (1000) MHz.

Comparison with the reference design, front view
PowerColor RADEON X700 256MB AGP
Reference card ATI RADEON X700 PCI-E


Comparison with the reference design, back view
PowerColor RADEON X700 256MB AGP Reference card ATI RADEON X700 PCI-E


As you can see, both cards are similar in design, which is almost a complete copy of the reference card with PCIE interface. You should understand that the differences have to do only with the PCIE-to-AGP bridge, which is required by the X700-based cards to be used in AGP platforms. Interestingly, these are the first video cards using GDDR3 memory from Infineon that we have seen. They usually use memory chips from Samsung.

And the most important thing! I will type it in bold!


As we can see, the product from GeCube offers even improved characteristics of its PCI-E counterpart, being clocked at 425/900 MHz instead of 425/860 MHz.

Let's proceed with the examination.


The cooling system, though very nice-looking and even effective, is very noisy to the irritating degree! Details are in the video clip (the link is published in the beginning of the article).

Another note - the heatsinks are made of aluminium, they are just coated with copper. Theoretically, the rear heatsink is not necessary, because there are no memory chips at the back of the PCB. And the bridge does not require cooling. But perhaps it has to do with the bundle. PCB allows 256 MB of memory - in this case the heatsink may come in handy.

PowerColor RADEON X700 256MB AGP

A regular cooler of the closed type, that is the fan sucks the air into the heatsink and drives it out downwards. Strangely, the airflow direction is changed. The usual direction is from left to right (if the card is on a table in front of you, its front side upwards). This one is top-down.

The cooler is noisy, but not much.

As the AGP interface cannot conduct high power, video cards require external power supply. That's why they are equipped with the corresponding connector (the X700 PCI-E does not need it).

Both products are equipped with GPU RV410 (X700), which operates at different clocks.


PowerColor RADEON X700 256MB AGP
The box contains user's manual, CD with drivers, CyberLink software (to support VIVO and create DVD-video), DVI-to-d-Sub adapter, external power cord, TV extension cord, VIVO/HDTV adapter.

The card traditionally comes shipped with the following items: User's manual, CD with drivers, CD with utilities, TV extension cords, HDTV and DVI-to-d-Sub adapters, external power cord.

Let's have a look at the boxes.

PowerColor RADEON X700 256MB AGP

Stylish cardboard box. All components are neatly arranged into cardboard sections. The card is firmly fixed to avoid deformations or damage in transit.


The box has a traditional for this company design - bright colors, glossy coating. There are cardboard sections inside the box to accommodate the entire bundle. So there must be no dangling components.

Installation and Drivers

Testbed configurations:

  • Athlon 64 (754Socket) based computer:
    • CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3700+ (L2=1024K)
    • Motherboard: ASUS K8V SE Deluxe based on VIA K8T800
    • RAM: 1 GB DDR SDRAM PC3200 (CAS (tCL)=2.5; RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)=3; Row Precharge (tRP)=3; tRAS=6)
    • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 80GB SATA

  • Athlon 64 (939Socket) based computer
    • CPU: AMD Athlon 4000+ (L2=1024K)
    • Motherboard: ASUS A8N SLI Deluxe based on NVIDIA nForce4 SLI
    • RAM: 1 GB DDR SDRAM 400MHz (CAS (tCL)=2.5; RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)=3; Row Precharge (tRP)=3; tRAS=6)
    • 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 6.542 (CATALYST 5.6) NVIDIA drivers 77.72.

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 were 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 demos from Research, Pier, Regulator levels (-DEVMODE startup 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,

  • The Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay (Starbreeze/Vivendi) — OpenGL, multitexturing, test settings — maximum texture quality, Shader 2.0, demo 44 and demo ducche.

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

Overall performance

Game tests that heavily load pixel shaders 2.0.

TR:AoD, Paris5_4 DEMO

Test results: TRAOD

We use this outdated and not very popular game as an example of a classic "shader game", which heavily loads these units. You can easily see that the X700 PRO is right between the 6600GT and the 6600, while the X700 is slightly outperformed by the 6600, but heavily outscores the 6200. The effect of the 256bit bus in the 9800PRO is also noticeable: even though it has lower clock and consequently lower peak fill rate than in the X700/PRO, the latter is heavily outperformed anyway.

Game tests that heavily load vertex shaders, mixed pixel shaders 1.1 and 2.0, active multitexturing.

FarCry, Research

Test results: FarCry Research

FarCry, Regulator

Test results: FarCry Regulator

FarCry, Pier

Test results: FarCry Pier

Well, the X700 PRO is outperformed by all video cards. Alas, if a product is outperformed in such a popular and demonstrative game, there may be no consolation. Even the 9800 PRO turned out faster than both our cards.

Then. DON'T BE SURPRIZED that the X700 PRO performance is sometimes LOWER than in the X700. I rechecked this nonsense, the results were the same. Yep, the problem obviously lies in the drivers. At the same time, the X700 is not so bad, it outperforms the 6200 and sometimes even the 6600.

The X700 PRO prices should be reduced according to the results of our tests.

Game tests that heavily load both vertex shaders and pixel shaders 2.0

Half-Life2: ixbt01 demo

Test results: Half-Life2, ixbt01

Half-Life2: ixbt02 demo

Test results: Half-Life2, ixbt02

Half-Life2: ixbt03 demo

Test results: Half-Life2, ixbt03

The situation is contradictory. But on the whole we can see that the X700 PRO occupies a fitting place between the 6600GT and the 6600. But the X700 is more divisive.

Game tests that heavily load pixel pipelines with texturing, active operations of the stencil buffer and shader units

DOOM III High mode

Test results: DOOM III

Chronicles of Riddick, demo 44

Test results: Chronicles of Riddick, demo 44

Chronicles of Riddick, demo ducche

Test results: Chronicles of Riddick, demo ducche

NVIDIA video cards are traditionally superior in these tests due to more flexible and optimal operations of pixel shaders and shading procedures. In this case the situation is the same. Only the 6200 with four pipelines is fairly behind the X700.

Synthetic tests that heavily load shader units

3DMark05: MARKS

Test results: 3DMark05 MARKS

The results are similar to those demonstrated in the first test. That's only natural, considering that the heaviest load falls on shader units again.


On the whole, it would be hard to draw final conclusions due to an indefinite price range of these cards. ATI does not regulate these cards at all, so each manufacturer will determine the price on its own. But such products already appear on the shelves (by the way, besides the two above-mentioned companies, X700 AGP is also manufactured by Sapphire), and their prices show that they may be quite popular.

  1. PowerColor RADEON X700 256MB AGP is a good product, if its price is below $130 (this card is already available at 110-120 USD, which is good news). If you already have the RADEON 9800 or the RADEON 9700 PRO, there is no point in buying the X700. This upgrade is justified only from older or weaker models. 2D quality at 1600x1200@85Hz is good. Operating stability is up to the mark. It actually competes with the GeForce 6200 (6600LE) (even with the 6600!) and it copes with this task very well.

  2. GeCube RADEON X700 PRO 128MB AGP is a more controversial product. The advantage is its price (130-140 USD). But its noisy cooler, paradoxical lag from the X700... These are all disadvantages of this card. 2D quality at 1600x1200@85Hz is good. Operating stability is also high. On the whole it's a very good adversary to the GeForce 6600 and a good replacement for the 9800 PRO, considering its lower price.

You shouldn't forget that one and the same name (X700) may be used by accelerators with memory frequencies from 250 MHz to 350 MHz! It will certainly influence their performance! Today, we have reviewed a middle-of-the-road product.

You can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards in our 3Didest.

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
for the provided video cards.

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)


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