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MSI Radeon X1300 PRO 256MB Preview
By Vincent Chang
Category : Graphics
Published by Vijay Anand on Wednesday, 5th October, 2005


Wait No More

Those who have visited ATI's website in the past few days would have noticed that a countdown timer had been placed on the main page. As for what happens when the countdown ends, that's when ATI's new X1000 series graphics cards make their official debut. Following the ATI Avivo technology preview and the unveiling of the first official CrossFire benchmarks, we are now into the final and probably the most important ATI product launch of this timeframe. While waiting for the next generation cards to be announced officially and made available in retail, we had the chance to test drive the new entry level Radeon, a Radeon X1300 PRO from MSI.

This is a plain looking card that could be mistaken for any of the existing lower end Radeons.

Before we dive right in to the card we have at hand, allow us to highlight the new graphics card series and some of their key specs for a better perspective of what we are dealing with. Consisting of the high-end X1800 series, the mid-range X1600 series and the low-end X1300, the next generation cards are all built around a core with a 0.90-micron engineering process as compared to the 0.11-micron and 0.13-mircon parts found in existing cards. The cores themselves all have different codenames, one for each series. The high-end core used in the X1800 series (and the most widely discussed) is the R520, with 16 pixel pipelines and clocked up to 625MHz. The core for the middle range X1600 series is the RV530 and it is similar to the beefier R520 with the exception of lower clock speeds and has only 12 pipelines in comparison. Finally, the card we are previewing today, the MSI Radeon X1300 PRO 256MB is based on the RV515 core and has only 4 pixel pipelines with the core clocked at 600MHz. It comes with 256MB of 2.5ns rated memory that is clocked at 800MHz DDR. Some of the new features for these cards include ATI's Avivo technology, Shader Model 3.0 core, full FP32 processing throughout the pipeline, High Precision HDR and CrossFire support. While the low-end Radeon X1300 series will not have CrossFire Edition cards, they would still support CrossFire technology and are CrossFire ready. Here's a small table detailing the different variants of the Radeon X1300 part and you'll soon realize that the MSI card featured here today is based on the better performing entry level VPU:-

ATI Radeon X1300 Variants
Graphics Card Models Vertex / Pixel Pipelines Core / Memory Clock Speeds Frame Buffer Size Recommended Retail Price
ATI Radeon X1300 PRO 4 / 4 600 / 800 MHz 256MB DDR2 US$149
ATI Radeon X1300 4 / 4 450 / 500 MHz 128MB / 256MB DDR US$99 / US$129
ATI Radeon X1300 HyperMemory 4 / 4 450 / 1000 MHz 32MB / 128MB DDR2 from US$79

Despite having this brand new MSI Radeon X1300 PRO 256MB card in our hands, we found to our dismay that all the software tools and utilities that we tried, from ATI Tools to Powerstrip, did not support the card. Presumably, newer versions should add support for the Radeon X1300 series, but for now, this meant that we could not overclock this card. Given this limitation and the fact that the drivers we had on hand were not the final versions, we have decided to present this article as a preview instead, but with our usual benchmarks analysis.

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