Crucial is well known for their excellent and competitively low priced PC memory sticks, but as some of you may know, they also sell graphics cards based on the ATI graphic chipsets that have been released. While many users are switching over to PCI-Express based motherboards, a massive user base still remains for AGP based boards, so it's refreshing to still see cards are going to be released in AGP format, albeit less and less over the next year. The card we have on review today is the Crucial ATI X800 Pro 256mb AGP based card.
The RADEON® X800 graphics technology set a new standard in graphics performance and visual realism. With up to 16 pipelines, higher clock speeds and breakthrough image enhancement technology, RADEON® X800 Graphics Technology introduced a whole new gaming category called High-Definition Gaming.
Breakthrough Image Quality
Technologically Advanced 3D Architecture
Cutting Edge Video Technology
DirectX® 9.0 Leadership Continues
Stability is the foundation of the RADEON® X800 Graphics
The package came with the following:
First thing to note here is the lack of any demos or any sign of a bundled game, and while I don't personally have a problem with manufacturers shipping products without games, I would prefer they do when the product is quite expensive. This is one of the very few bad points I could find about the Crucial card.
For this review we're using 3 different PC's each running 1GB Crucial Ballistics Memory, 180 GB Western Digitial Hard Drives 7200RPM, 8mb Cache, SoundBlaster Audigy 2 and Windows XP SP2. The only difference in each pc is the processors, we're running 3000+, 3800+ and 4000+, reason for this is to spread out the benchmarks across the kind of PC's our readers are using right now. Each benchmark was ran 3 times.
The software we are using is as follows:
Doom 3 has become one of the more used benchmarks for graphics cards since its recent release, it shows off the great power that the graphics engine has, although the gameplay leaves a little to be desired. Once more ID has used OpenGL in the game, this is where ATI lacks a bit of power, although most gamers won't really notice it, those that want the increased FPS will.
Doom 3 1280x1024 High Detail
Doom 3 1600x1200 High Detail
Farcry is easily one of the best titles released this year, and that is saying something when you consider it has been up against the likes of Doom 3 and Half Life 2. Graphically in my personal view this is the 2nd best looking game out right now, just one behind Half Life 2, not only that but Farcry is so good looking on an ATI card you'll be well happy with the results.
Farcry 1280x1024 Ultra Detail - Athlon 64 4000+
Farcry 1280x1024 Ultra Detail - Athlon 64 3800+
Farcry 1280x1024 Ultra Detail - Athlon 64 3000+
Half Life 2 was one of the most sought after titles ever released when it came out last month and I am glad to say I don't think anyone was disappointed with the game. The graphical performance is as good as I hoped it would be, there are some areas in the game where it does slow down, but not enough to distract from the excellent gameplay on show here. Half Life 2 is probably the best looking title out right now, and with the excellent graphic effects and some great physics on show, it has to be the title you buy to show off a spanking new PC.
Half Life 2 1280x1024 6x Anisotropic 4xAA
X2: The Threat is a great space simulator with a heck of a lot of depth to it, but not only that - it also has some fantastic graphics to boot. The Crucial X800 card handles this game really well even when there is a lot of action on the screen at one time.
X2: The Threat Patch 4, With Shadows Enabled at 1280x1024x32
While I don't think much of 3D Mark as a benchmarking tool, nearly ever site that reviews graphics cards seems to included it. As you can see the Crucial X800 card does extremely well in the tests.
3D Mark 2003 at 1280x1024x32 - 3D Mark Overall Score
3D Mark 2005 at 1024x768x32 - 3D Mark Overall Score
ATI has slowly but surely taken over Nvidia's reign with their last two card releases and I don't think that anyone can argue that they deserve it. With the release of the X800 GPU they once again moved ahead of the pack in a vast array of games compared to the latest Nvidia Chip and the lack of Pixel Shader version 3 hasn't made the difference that Nvidia stated it would do.
There are many reasons we liked the X800 Pro as the card performs really well and is quite a big upgrade over previous generations of ATI products. It's really fast too even compared to the GeForce 6 range. The card can be overclocked quite easily too which is a big plus for a lot of users. The in-game image quality was excellent and thanks to the excellent Drivers that ATI have been releasing over the last few months the card is really really stable to use.
While the Pro version of the X800 is a slight step down from the excellent XT model, it does very well across most of the tests we have done here at ActiveWin. The Windows performance has been excellent throughout and colors are vivid and clear across both DVI and plain CRT connections. The drivers have been great too, especially thanks to the monthly releases that ATI do and with the excellent VPU recover facility working to stop as many GPU driver crashes as possible (I haven't had a graphical related crash for ages). ATI have also mentioned that their next set of driver releases will see a possible 10% frame increase across a number of games, although we'll have to wait and see on that one.
Although we have reviewed the AGP version of the card, there are PCI Express versions released too which offer a slightly improved performance, but not as good as anyone expected they could be. I have become a real fan of ATI graphics cards over the past year and hopefully their next release will be as good as this one, while it is a shame that OpenGL performance is not as good as Nvidia cards, it is easy for most of us to overlook as 95% of games are now run through Direct3D and it is here where the ATI cards excel.
I ran a number of overclocking tests with the crucial card and I was able to get to around 510 on the core and 1040 on the memory for a still stable and usable system. In games like Far Cry I got around 4/5 frames per second more, in a game like Doom 3 it didn't tend to make much difference and it was sometimes unstable. Noise levels were fine throughout, the crucial card uses the same X800 layout as the Sapphire cards do, so it manages to keep cool and quiet well..
3D Mark 2005 at 1024x768x32 - 3D Mark Overall Score (Overclocked)
So overall we have yet another excellent graphics card from ATI and a good version of it from Crucial, how long they can lead the field I don't know but competition in this sector of the PC industry is good news for the consumer. While it doesn't have the edge in games like Doom 3 over Nvidia cards, that doesn't really matter as in my opinion that was a highly overrated title that got more coverage than it deserved once more. The titles it excels in like Far Cry and Half Life 2 are far more deserving of your time than any others. Crucial's version of the card is great, the only disappointment I have with it is that it lacks a free game or some demos with it, you are paying a lot for the card so I think you deserve something to show it off with.
Feel free to comment on the review here.