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ATI RADEON X700 PRO Shootout
By Vijay Anand
Category : Graphics
Published by Vijay Anand on Tuesday, 22nd March, 2005


The Midrange Sweet Spot

Just recently we brought you a RADEON X800 PRO Shootout targeting upgraders on the AGP platform and continuing our Shootout plans, this article is tailored for people assembling a new system utilizing a PCI Express platform and a PCIe x16 graphics card. Since fixing a new system involves changes in many of the subsystems, all of which cost big bucks, we figured most people would have their sights set upon the newest midrange graphics cards that offer reasonably good performance for current games without denting the wallet too much. On ATI's lineup, the RADEON X700 PRO perfectly matches this description and we went forth to cover seven different cards based on this VPU model.

Some of the RADEON X700 PRO cards participating in the shootout.

Although the ATI RADEON X700 PRO is labeled midrange, it is indeed a relative term. In the current graphics card scheme with the likes of ATI's RADEON X850 series and NVIDIA's GeForce 6800 Ultra, the humble RADEON X700 PRO seems like a midrange card. However, it wasn't all too long ago that the RADEON 9800 XT was the king of 3D graphics cards. A year later and it close to half its price, ATI's RADOEN X700 PRO (based on the same technology prowess of the well received X800 series), actually performs slightly better than the RADEON 9800 XT could have managed and is offered on the new PCI Express x16 interface. Some highlights of the RADEON X700 PRO VPU are its eight pixel rendering pipelines, six geometry engines (vertex units) and a 128-bit DDR3 memory interface. As recommended by ATI, nominal clock speeds for graphics cards based on this VPU are 425MHz for the graphics engine and 860MHz DDR for the frame buffer. Most of these cards are equipped with a 256MB frame buffer, but a few chose to manufacture 128MB versions as well. Were these up to the task? You'll find out about that and more over the span of this long article.

Readers who are not quite familiar with the market positioning and exactly how well the RADEON X700 PRO fares among other graphics processors can tune into our Q4 2004 Performance Midrange GPU/VPU Shootout (PCIe) article for the complete lowdown. As usual, we list the common tech specs present on all of the cards before we commence our showcase:-

Typical RADEON X700 PRO Technical Specifications
Graphics Engine
  • ATI RADEON X700 PRO Visual Processing Unit (VPU)
  • Stock VPU clock = 425MHz
  • 8 parallel rendering pipelines
  • 6 parallel geometry engines
  • 128-bit memory interface
  • PCI Express x16 interface support
  • SMARTSHADER™ HD
    • Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 programmable vertex and pixel shaders in hardware
    • 2.0 Vertex Shaders
      • Supports vertex programs up to 65,280 instructions with flow control
      • Single cycle trigonometric operations (SIN & COS)
    • 2.0 Extended Pixel Shaders
      • Supports up to 1,536 instructions and 16 textures per rendering pass
      • 2nd Generation F-buffer technology accelerates multi-pass pixel shader programs with unlimited instructions
      • 32 temporary and constant registers
      • Facing register for two-sided lighting
      • 128-bit, 64-bit & 32-bit per pixel floating point color formats
      • Multiple Render Target (MRT) support
    • Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL® via extensions
  • SMOOTHVISION™ HD
    • 2x/4x/6x full scene anti-aliasing modes
      • Sparse multi-sample algorithm with gamma correction, programmable sample patterns, and centroid sampling
      • Lossless Color Compression (up to6:1)at all resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions
      • Temporal Anti-Aliasing
    • 2x/4x/8x/16x anisotropic filtering modes
      • Up to 128-tap texture filtering
      • (Adaptive algorithm with bi-linear (performance) and tri-linear (quality) options)
  • 3Dc™
    • High quality 4:1 Normal Map Compression
    • Works with any two-channel data format
  • HYPER Z™ HD
    • 3-level Hierarchical Z-Buffer with early Z test
    • Lossless Z-Buffer compression (up to 48:1)
    • Fast Z-Buffer Clear
    • Z cache optimized for real-time shadow rendering
    • Optimized for performance at high display resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions
  • VIDEOSHADER™ HD
    • Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time
    • FULLSTREAM™ video de-blocking technology for Real, DivX, and WMV9 formats
    • VIDEOSOAP™ noise removal filtering for captured video
    • All-format DTV/HDTV decoding
    • Adaptive Per-Pixel De-Interlacing and Frame Rate Conversion (temporal filtering)
  • Dual integrated display controllers
  • YPrPb component output for direct drive of HDTV displays
  • Single and dual link external TMDS transmitter support for high resolution and/or multi-monitor DVI configurations
  • Compatible with ATI’s THEATER™ video decode and capture device for VIVO (Video Input / Video Output) configurations on certain X700 PRO graphics cards
Graphics Memory
  • 256MB / 128MB Graphic DDR3 SDRAM
  • Default memory clock = 860MHz DDR (varies on some cards)
  • 128-bit memory interface
RAMDAC
  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel 400 MHz DACs
  • Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI 1.0 compliant and HDCP ready)
Connectors
  • 15-pin D-sub VGA connector (supports up to 2048x1536 @ 85Hz)
  • 1x DVI-I connector
  • 1x mini-DIN connector for TV-Output / VIVO (supports TV-output resolution up to 1024x768)
Driver & Software
  • Driver support for Windows NT / 98 / Me / 2000 / XP / XP 64-bit and Linux
Other Information
  • PCIe x16 slot required

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