ATI Radeon X1300 Pro Review
By Gabriel Torres on November 30, 2005


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

Radeon X1300 Pro is the fastest graphics chip inside the new low-end graphics chip family from ATI. We’ve got a reference sample for this model from ATI, so in this review we will compare its performance to other low-end graphic chips, especially Radeon X300 and GeForce 6200, and also with some mid-range chips (GeForce 6600 and GeForce 6600 GT) to see how is the performance of this new release by ATI.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro
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Figure 1: Radeon X1300 Pro reference board.

We’ve posted a complete article explaining what’s new on Radeon X1000 series, so we won’t be repeating here everything we have already explained there. The big news is that all chips from this series are finally supporting Shader 3.0 model (DirectX 9.0c).

ATI three chips on Radeon X1300 family: X1300 Pro, X1300 and X1300 HyperMemory. X1300 Pro, the model that we reviewed, runs at 600 MHz and accesses its memory at 800 MHz (12.8 GB/s) and has a suggested price of USD 149 for the 256 MB model. X1300 runs at 450 MHz and accesses its memory at 500 MHz, with a suggested price of USD 99 for the 128 MB version and USD 129 for the 256 MB version. And X1300 HyperMemory, which runs at 450 MHz and accesses its memory at 1 GHz, with a suggested price of USD 79.

HyperMemory simulates a 128 MB video card by using 96 MB of the system’s RAM memory as video memory. Read our tutorial on HyperMemory for more information on this subject. Even tough Radeon X1300 HyperMemory has only 32 MB on-board, it accesses its memory at 1 GHz, double the speed of the plain Radeon X1300, in order to compensate the difference in video memory size.

You can see in our tutorial “ATI Chips Comparison Table” the difference between this new chip and the other chips from ATI, while on our tutorial “NVIDIA Chips Comparison Table” you can compare it to its competitors from NVIDIA.

You can see the Radeon X1300 Pro reference board on Figures 2 and 3.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro
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Figure 2: ATI Radeon X1300 Pro reference board.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro
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Figure 3: ATI Radeon X1300 Pro reference board, back view.

Let’s now take a closer look at the Radeon X1300 Pro reference board from ATI.

The Radeon X1300 Pro Reference Board from ATI

We disassembled the video card heatsink to take a look, see Figure 4. As you can see, the entire heatsink is made of copper.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro
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Figure 4: Video card with its heatsink detached.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro
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Figure 5: The entire heatsink is made of copper.

This video card uses eight GDDR2 256-Mbit 2.5 ns chips from Infineon (HYB18T256161AF-25)to give it 256 MB of video memory (256 Mbits x 8 = 256 MB). These chips can run up to 800 MHz. Since this video card accesses the memory at 800 MHz there is no room for memory overclocking inside the memory’s specifications. But of course you can try overclock it over its specs. Keep in mind that we are talking about a pre-production sample; the final model from ATI partners can use a different memory chip model.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro
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Figure 6: 2.5 ns GDDR2 memory chip used by ATI Radeon X1300 Pro reference board.

The reference board doesn’t have video capture function (VIVO). However, as you can see on the left hand side in Figure 4, there is a place on the board to have an ATI Rage Theater chip soldered in the future, if an ATI partner wants to release a model with VIVO function.

Main Specifications

How We Tested

During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions the only variable was the video card being tested.

Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

Used Software

We adopted a 3% error margin; thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.

3DMark2001 SE

3DMark2001 SE measures video card performance simulating DirectX 8.1 games. It is very effective software for evaluating the performance from previous-generation games, programmed using DirectX 8. In this software we ran two tests, both at 1024x768x32. Since we were evaluating low-end video cards, we decided to not run our tests in higher resolutions, since rarely a user that buys a video card from this level will push resolutions above 1024x768 in 3D games.

We ran this software first without antialising and with no frame buffer, and then we put the antialising at 4 samples and the frame buffer at triple-buffering. This improves the video quality but lowers the performance. We were willing to see how much performance we lost by putting the VGA to run at the maximum possible image quality. It is important to note that ATI chips can run at 6x antialising. Since NVIDIA chips cannot run at this configuration, we had to use 4x antialising to use a configuration that is valid to all video cards included in our benchmark, allowing direct comparison between them. Also, some very low-end video chips (Volari 8300 and Intel i915G) don’t have antialising feature, so we were not able to benchmark them using this configuration.

You may be asking yourself why we added an old program in a review of a latest generation video card. To us, it is as important to know the performance of a video card with the latest games as it is to know its performance in an older game. That’s why we kept this software in our methodology.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

At the default 3DMark2001 SE configuration, ATI Radeon X1300 Pro achieved the best performance from all video cards we selected for comparison, including GeForce 6600 and GeForce 6600 GT, which are mid-range video cards (at higher resolutions these two cards would be faster than Radeon X1300 Pro). So Radeon X1300 Pro seems terrific for DirectX 8.1 games.

It was 15.67% faster than GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), 19.13% faster than GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), 24.07% faster than GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), 67.99% faster than GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), 108.87% faster than Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), 109.01% faster than Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), 117.89% faster than GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek), 156.51% faster than on-board video provided by Intel 915G chipset and 176.58% faster than Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI).

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Enabling video quality enhancements, Radeon X1300 Pro was again faster than all other video cards we selected for comparison.

It was 42.87% faster than GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), 56.30% faster than GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), 115.12% faster than GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), 191.95% faster than Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), 193.24% faster than Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), 354.49% faster than GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX) and 1,590.51% faster than GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek).

3DMark03

3DMark03 measures performance by simulating games written to DirectX 9, which are contemporary games. In this software we ran two tests, both at 1024x768x32. Since we were evaluating low-end video cards, we decided to not run our tests in higher resolutions, since rarely a user that buys a video card from this level will push resolutions above 1024x768 in 3D games.

We ran this software first without antialising and with no anisotropic filtering, and then we put the antialising at 4 samples and anisotropic filtering at 4 samples. This improves the video quality but lowers the performance. We were willing to see how much performance we lost by putting the VGA to run at the maximum possible image quality. It is important to note that ATI chips can run at 6x antialising. Since NVIDIA chips cannot run at this configuration, we had to use 4x antialising to use a configuration that is valid to all video cards included in our benchmark, allowing direct comparison between them. Also, some very low-end video chips (Volari 8300 and Intel i915G) don’t have antialising feature, so we were not able to benchmark them using this configuration.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

At the default 3DMark03 configuration, ATI Radeon X1300 Pro also has achieved a very good performance, being slower only than GeForce 6600 GT (which was 43.27% faster than the card being reviewed).

It was 13.25% faster than GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), 47.13% faster than GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), 129.59% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), 160.38% faster than Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI), 183.26% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek), 212.32% faster than Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI) and Radeon X300 SE HM 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor) and 301.26% faster than the on-board video produced by Intel 915G chipset.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Enabling video quality settings, the same happened: Radeon X1300 Pro lost only to GeForce 6600 GT, which was 42.61% faster than the reviewed chip.

It was 26.46% faster than GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), 82.02% faster than GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), 277.92% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), 284.59% faster than Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), 285.50% faster than Radeon X300 SE HM 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor) and 576.81% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek).

3DMark05

3DMark05 measures performance by simulating DirectX 9.0c games, i.e., using the new Shader 3.0 model. This programming model is used by Far Cry game and other games to be launched in the future. This new programming model is used by GeForce 6 and 7 series from NVIDIA and Radeon X1000 series from ATI.

In this software we ran two tests, both at 1024x768x32. Since we were evaluating low-end video cards, we decided to not run our tests in higher resolutions, since rarely a user that buys a video card from this level will push resolutions above 1024x768 in 3D games.

We ran this software first without antialising and with no anisotropic filtering, and then we put the antialising at 4 samples and anisotropic filtering at 4 samples. This improves the video quality but lowers the performance. We were willing to see how much performance we lost by putting the VGA to run at the maximum possible image quality. It is important to note that ATI chips can run at 6x antialising. Since NVIDIA chips cannot run at this configuration, we had to use 4x antialising to use a configuration that is valid to all video cards included in our benchmark, allowing direct comparison between them. Also, some very low-end video chips (Volari 8300 and Intel i915G) don’t have antialising feature, so we were not able to benchmark them using this configuration.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

At the default 3DMark05 configuration, ATI Radeon X1300 Pro also has achieved a very good performance, being slower only than GeForce 6600 GT (which was 27.73% faster than the card being reviewed).

Radeon X1300 Pro was 33.30% faster than GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), 81.97% faster than GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), 110.82% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), 151.89% faster than Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), 152.79% faster than Radeon X300 SE HM 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), 177.82% faster than Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI), 188.09% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek) and 710.98% faster than the on-board video produced by Intel 915G chipset.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Enabling video quality settings, the same happened: Radeon X1300 Pro lost only to GeForce 6600 GT, which was 8.14% faster than the reviewed chip.

Radeon X1300 Pro was 51.74% faster than GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), 106.20% faster than GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), 202.53% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), 230.03% faster than Radeon X300 SE HM 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), 231.86% faster than Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI) and 341.25% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek).

Doom 3

Doom 3 is one of the heaviest games available today. As we’ve done on other programs, we ran this game at three resolutions: 1024x768x32, 1280x1024x32 and 1600x1200x32. This game allows several image quality levels and we’ve done our benchmarking on two levels, low and high. We ran demo1 four times and wrote the obtained number of frames per second. The first result we discarded at once, since it is far inferior than the other results. This happens because at the first time we run the demo the game must load all textures to video memory, fact that doesn’t happen from the second time we run the demo on. From the three results left, we consider as our official result the middle result, i.e., we discard the highest and the lowest values. Curiously almost all times the values obtained at the second round on were the same.

A very important detail that we must mention is that Doom 3 has an internal FPS lock: it is only capable of generating 60 frames per second, even if your board is able to produce more frames per second than that. This is done in order to make the game to have the same "playability" sensation independently from the video card installed on the PC. This lock, however, is disabled in the game benchmarking mode.

For further details on how to measure 3D performance with Doom 3, read our tutorial on this subject.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Running this game in its low video quality mode, GeForce 6600 and GeForce 6600 GT were 23.67% and 62.39% faster than Radeon X1300 Pro. The new ATI chip was faster than all other low-end video cards we benchmarked: 4.63% faster than GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), 127.14% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), 205.41% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek), 222.86% faster than Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI) and Radeon X300 SE HM 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor) and 402.22% faster than  Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI).

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Increasing video quality to high level mode, the same thing happened. GeForce 6600 and GeForce 6600 GT were 24.47% and 70.78% faster than Radeon X1300 Pro. Once again, Radeon X1300 Pro was faster than all other low-end video cards we benchmarked: 4.21% faster than GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), 127.57% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), 198.58% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek), 214.18% faster than Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI) and Radeon X300 SE HM 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor) and 453.95% faster than Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI).

Far Cry

Far Cry is a game based on the new Shader 3.0 (DirectX 9.0c) model, which is used by GeForce 6 and 7 series from NVIDIA and Radeon X1000 series from ATI.
 
As we’ve done on other programs, we ran this game only at 1024x768. Since we were evaluating low-end video cards, we decided to not run our tests in higher resolutions, since rarely a user that buys a video card from this level will push resolutions above 1024x768 in 3D games.

This game allows several image quality levels and we’ve done our benchmarking on two levels: low and very high. To measure the performance we used the demo created by German magazine PC Games Hardware (PCGH), available at http://www.3dcenter.org/downloads/farcry-pcgh-vga.php. We ran this demo four times and made an arithmetical average with the obtained results. This average is the result presented in our graphs.

This game has a very important detail in its image quality configuration. Antialising, instead of being configured by numbers (1x. 2x. 4x or 6x), is configured as low, medium or high. The problem is that on NVIDIA chips both medium and high mean 4x, while on ATI chips medium means 2x and high means 6x, making the comparison between ATI and NVIDIA chips completely unfair. Because of that we configured antialising at 4x and anisotropic filtering at 8x manually at the video driver control panel. Some very low-end video chips (Volari 8300 and Intel i915G) don’t have antialising feature, so we were not able to benchmark them using this configuration.

For further details on how to measure 3D performance with Far Cry, read our tutorial on this subject.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro was faster than all other video cards we included in our comparison, even GeForce 6600 and GeForce 6600 GT (this VGA probably would be faster than Radeon X1300 Pro in higher resolutions and higher image quality settings). It was 4.86% faster than GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), 7.98% faster than GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), 36.36% faster than GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), 112.91% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), 127.30% faster than Radeon X300 SE HM 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), 128.92% faster than Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), 176.82% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek) and 236.40% faster than Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI).

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Increasing the video image quality, GeForce 6600 GT was 41.89% faster than Radeon X1300 Pro, while the new chip from ATI was faster than all other video cards included in our comparison: it was 30.17% faster than GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), 79.47% faster than GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), 244.67% faster than Radeon X300 SE HM 128 MB 64-bit (PowerColor), 245.71% faster than Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), 269.98% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 64 MB 64-bit (XFX) and 944.51% faster than GeForce 6200 TC 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek).

Conclusions

We were really impressed by Radeon X1300 Pro performance, far greater than the performance obtained by GeForce 6200 and Radeon X300 models we included in our comparison.

In fact, Radeon X1300 Pro was faster than GeForce 6600 in all tests but Doom 3. So if you are thinking of buying a “plain” GeForce 6600, consider changing your mind into buying a Radeon X1300 Pro instead.

So, calling Radeon X1300 Pro as an entry-level chip isn’t fair. It is clearly a low mid-range chip for users that want an entry-level VGA but can’t stand the low performance of a GeForce 6200 or of a Radeon X300.

The only bad thing about Radeon X1300 Pro is its price, quoted at USD 149 – definitely not we can call an entry-level price. However, final products from ATI partners can be found at a lower price. For example, we’ve seen Radeon X1300 Pro from MSI being sold between USD 106 and USD 123. If you think that you can find a “plain” GeForce 6600 also from MSI between USD 120 and USD 142, choosing Radeon X1300 Pro is a no-brainer: it is cheaper and faster than a GeForce 6600!

In our opinion ATI hit bull’s eye with this new product. So we are giving our "Golden Award" seal for the low-end VGA category.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/ATI-Radeon-X1300-Pro-Review/254


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