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

ABIT RX700 Pro-128PCIE

For the RADEON X700 PRO VPU, ABIT has a total of three graphics card variants:- 128MB, 256MB and a 256MB Guru version that has better overclocking potential and monitoring capabilities. We received the ABIT RX700 Pro-128PCIE model for the shootout and though it may not have the same frame buffer capacity as most other cards in this article, we will be judging it objectively based on performance expectations of a 128MB model. The card sported ABIT's own custom aluminum heatsink design and here's how it looks:-

It's a good thing that ABIT opted a custom heatsink design option that sets it apart from the reference coolers used on some cards. ABIT's design seems to span all the way to cool the RAM chips too.

At the heart of the cooler unit is a tiny 35mm fan that helps heat dissipation of the large heatsink. During operation, a super bright blue LED lights up to add a 'cool' element to the card.

The rear of the card is pretty bare since it does not feature a 256MB frame buffer that spreads eight more memory chips at the back of the PCB.

The rear faceplate has a normal set of output connectors which consist of analog VGA, 7-pin mini DIN for TV output and a DVI-I port.

The ABIT RX700 Pro-128PCIE graphics card with its spicy box packaging.

In the box packaging of the card, you'll find the following accessories provided:-

  • DVI-I to VGA adapter
  • S-Video to Composite converter
  • S-Video extension cable
  • Composite extension cable
  • ABIT Installation and User Guides
  • Driver CD
  • Software: CyberLink PowerDVD 5.0

    The cable accessories seemed to be in good order, but we would have preferred it even better if ABIT supplied component output cables as well. Software bundle was kept as simple as possible with a full (unrestricted) copy of CyberLink's PowerDVD 5.0, DVD playback software. As we all know, ABIT tries best to deliver what's most necessary and that's the hardware portion.

    The cable accessories provided were designed for ABIT and not the boring stock cables you can find in shops. Following the clockwise direction from the top left, we have an S-Video extension cable, Composite extension cable, S-Video to Composite converter cable and a DVI-I to VGA DB15 converter plug.

    Sadly, all wasn't well for this ABIT card. Firstly, the cooler's tiny 35mm fan generates noise and though it is not intrusive, it's still audible (though some may not hear it if the CPU's cooler happens to be noisy). This is to be expected since small fans have to spin at higher revolutions to move a decent volume of air while larger fans can perform this function with ease at much lower revolutions and little to no audible noise. Secondly, the cooler did not achieve its design objectives. The heatsink was intended to cool the VPU and as well as the memory chips, but we found only one out of the eight memory parts having good contact with the heatsink. The photo below should better illustrate the issue:-

    As seen in the highlighted region, the heatsink does not make contact with the memory chip and this was apparent on almost all the other memory parts on the card too.

    Removing the cooler to inspect its underside, you can easily tell that the cooler was meant to make contact with the memory parts, but it didn't.

    Clearly, the mounting points for the cooler aren't optimal for ABIT's heatsink design and this resulted in the heatsink to apply pressure more towards one side. Since the VPU is at the center of the heatsink, it wasn't affected, but the RAM chips located at the perimeter of the heatsink did. Thus there is a high probability of heat buildup between the tight spacing of the RAM parts and the cooler. Finally, the display output quality on CRT monitors was found lacking in sharpness and quite notably in screen brightness. Both our Philips Brilliance 202P4 and Samsung 700IFT test monitors noted this problem. Weirdly though, the same analog output issue didn't manifest itself using LCD monitors. We've had another sample requested to verify if these findings persisted and unfortunately, they still hold true. Hence, these are some things you would want to take note in your purchasing decisions.

    Here's the card without the cooler.

    On close looks, we found the card using Samsung's 2ns Graphics DD3 memory parts.

    A perspective view of the ABIT RX700 Pro-128PCIE graphics card.
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