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


In Summary…

If you have been faithfully following every page of our article, recalling all the various aspects discussed for each graphics cards could be tough. To make things easier for all readers, here's a brief summary of what we encountered.

There are many components that constitute a PC and some of these generate noise by nature of their operation. Of course, whoever is fond of noise? In a bid to lower noise pollution, many DIY'ers these days pay pertinent attention to finer details such as fan noise or how cool a card is able to operate besides the standard performance and feature concerns. The reference cooler unit on ATI's own RADENO X700 PRO was found to be one of the more audible ones in this shootout, but thankfully none were obtrusive to the point of being called a nuisance. HIS strapped on an Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer unit that was certainly effective in keeping the card very cool and ultra quiet at the same time. Such characteristics do come at a price (literally) and that's with the card and its cooler occupying two whole expansion slots in addition to the product's price tag. For those of us who cannot afford to give up that extra expansion slot, but yearn for a quiet solution, Gigabyte's GV-RX70P256V comes to the rescue with a completely fanless solution, thanks to the incorporation of heat pipe technology. The Gigabyte card ensures that you have a totally silent graphics card, but this too comes at a price of high operating temperatures. This is because the card relies on overall chassis ventilation to hasten the rate at which heat is extracted off the card's aluminum heatsink radiator. If casing ventilation is poor, the card will only add on to the heat built up within the system. However, where ventilation and airflow is good, heat buildup becomes a moot point. The rest of the cards have simple active cooling, but unfortunately none were quiet. All were found to be somewhat audible, but not disruptive in nature and neither were they as audible as ATI's own card.

If the operating temperature is a crucial concern, you'll be glad to know that Sapphire's affordable solution topped our temperature test segment. A very close second place goes to the HIS card, but should fan noise matters be equally imperative, we would recommend the HIS RADEON X700Pro IceQ Turbo VIVO as your first choice (and that's provided you don't mind a two-slot solution).

The stack of seven RADEON X700 PRO graphics cards.

Performance matters is of course still a key concern and HIS handled that admirably with its simple turbo mode facility that pumps up its default clock speeds to 460/960MHz. Overclocking too was a stroll in the park for this card and that's no surprise with a mammoth cooling unit. However, the HIS cards doesn't come cheap. GeCube with only a 128MB frame buffer, actually fared pretty decently in many of the tests because of it had a higher memory clock of 945MHz versus 860MHz on the other card (save for HIS in turbo mode). The rest of the cards had pretty standard performance, except for PowerColor whose results fluctuated from test to test. On the whole, we found it to be more than four percent slower than cards with similar specs, despite the fact it did manage higher scores than the competition for a select few tests. Even so, we still marked the card down for its fluctuating results. Default performance aside, the PowerColor RADEON X700 PRO 256MB was a strong overclocker and we commend it in this aspect.

ABIT's RX700 Pro-128PCIE was another quirky card, but its temperament showed up in a very unlikely aspect of image quality. While testing with our Philips Brilliance 202P4 and Samsung 700IFT test monitors, we found the display lacking sharpness and more severely in overall screen brightness. However, the problem didn't manifest itself with LCD monitors using the same analog connection. Sounds peculiar, but do take note if you were hedging towards this affordable RADEON X700 PRO 128MB graphics card.

Finally for those of you keen on performing simple analog video capture and conversation for digital storage, the ATI Rage Theater ASIC equipped cards such as Gigabyte's GV-RX70P256V and HIS RADEON X700Pro IceQ Turbo VIVO are the only choices among the shootout participants.

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