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The Crucial RADEON X800 Pro 256MB

Crucial ATI X800 Pro 256mb
Company: Crucial
Website: http://www.crucial.com/uk
Estimated Street Price: £246 / $450
Part Number: CTVX800PRO256MB
Review By: Byron Hinson

Introduction

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.

Ground-Breaking Speed
RADEON® X800 Graphics Technology delivers frame rates that surpass all previous graphics processors and up to two times the performance of the acclaimed RADEON® 9800 PRO. RADEON® X800 graphics technology provides an extremely smooth, responsive HD gaming experience, putting capable gamers in complete control of even the most demanding game titles. A new architecture based on the latest .13 micron, low-k manufacturing process with ultra fast and efficient GDDR3 memory combine to produce extreme data rates and unbelievable acceleration in a quiet, cool, single-slot solution.

Breakthrough Image Quality
RADEON® X800 Graphics Technology defined a totally new High-Definition Gaming experience for the avid gamer by maximizing performance and image quality in higher detail and at higher resolutions than ever before. ATI‘s new and revolutionary 3Dc™ image enhancement technology brings characters to life and scenery to greater realism by enabling significant improvements to the image detail of character art with increased performance and lower memory usage.3Dc™ is slated to become the industry standard to support more complex high-definition visual effects in real time.

Technologically Advanced 3D Architecture
RADEON® X800 graphics technology features SMARTSHADER™ HD, the most advanced pixel shader engine with up to 16 parallel pixel pipelines capable of an incredible 6 gigapixels/second fill rate in full precision! With six programmable vertex shader pipelines, capable of up to 700 million vertices per second and an overall capability of over 200 billion floating point operations per second(Giga FLOPS), RADEON® X800 Graphics Technology delivers beautifully rendered high-definition 3D animation for intense, interactive game play.

Cutting Edge Video Technology
RADEON® X800 graphics technology gives you more than just a great gaming experience. It also has sophisticated video processing, filtering and acceleration features that make multimedia applications more efficient, inspiring and fun. With VIDEOSHADER™ HD, RADEON® X800 graphics technology takes advantage of its advanced shader processing engine for user programmable video effects, video quality enhancement, and encoding and decoding of many video standards, including MPEG1/2/4, Real Media, DivX and WMV9. RADEON® X800 Graphics Technology also supports the latest high-definition and wide display formats, giving users bigger and more vivid movie, gaming and Internet experiences.

DirectX® 9.0 Leadership Continues
Over the past several years ATI has established a legacy of providing the highest performing Microsoft® DirectX® graphics card solutions. RADEON® X800 graphics technology offers unparalleled DirectX® 9.0 and OpenGL® 2.0 shader support to ensure that current and upcoming games look and play brilliantly, especially in high-definition.

Stability is the foundation of the RADEON® X800 Graphics Technology
Acclaimed by industry leaders, ATI’s award winning CATALYST™ software driver suite optimizes the graphics processor performance of ATI’s desktop products while ensuring maximum stability and user control. CATALYST™ provides frequent driver updates backed by ATI customer support, to ensure complete satisfaction.

The package came with the following:

  • Power Adapter
  • VGA Connector
  • S-video cables
  • TV-Out Connector
  • PowerDVD 5
  • Driver Disc

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.

System Setup

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:

  • Windows XP Service Pack 2

  • ATI Catalyst Drivers 5.5

  • Via Hyperion 4.51

  • DirectX 9.0c

  • 3D Mark 2003

  • 3D Mark 2005

  • Half Life 2

  • X2: The Threat

  • Far Cry 1.3

  • Doom 3

Benchmarks

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

CPU
FPS
AMD Athlon 64 3000+
51
AMD Athlon 64 3800+, 2.4 Ghz
53
AMD Athlon 64 4000+, 2.4 Ghz
55

Doom 3 1600x1200 High Detail

CPU
FPS
AMD Athlon 64 3000+
32
AMD Athlon 64 3800+, 2.4 Ghz
40
AMD Athlon 64 4000+, 2.4 Ghz
42

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+

Level
FPS
Volcano
69
Research

76

Training
57
Steam
48

Farcry 1280x1024 Ultra Detail - Athlon 64 3800+

Level
FPS
Volcano
67
Research

74

Training
55
Steam
47

Farcry 1280x1024 Ultra Detail - Athlon 64 3000+

Level
FPS
Volcano
67
Research

74

Training
55
Steam
47

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

CPU
FPS
AMD Athlon 64 3000+
62
AMD Athlon 64 3800+, 2.4 Ghz

81

AMD Athlon 64 4000+, 2.4 Ghz
85

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

CPU
FPS
AMD Athlon 64 3000+
58
AMD Athlon 64 3800+, 2.4 Ghz

75.76

AMD Athlon 64 4000+, 2.4 Ghz
78

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

CPU
Mark
AMD Athlon 64 3000+
9737
AMD Athlon 64 3800+, 2.4 Ghz

10,075

AMD Athlon 64 4000+, 2.4 Ghz
10,767

3D Mark 2005 at 1024x768x32 - 3D Mark Overall Score

CPU
Mark
AMD Athlon 64 3000+
3710
AMD Athlon 64 3800+, 2.4 Ghz

5,048

AMD Athlon 64 4000+, 2.4 Ghz
5,057

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.

The Crucial RADEON X800 Pro 256MB

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.

Overclocking

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)

CPU
Mark
AMD Athlon 64 3800+, 2.4 Ghz

5,138

AMD Athlon 64 4000+, 2.4 Ghz
5,176

Conclusion

How It Grades
Installation: 93%
Ease Of Use: 89%
Speed: 93%
Features: 92%
Drivers
: 90%
Design: 89%
Manual: 90%
Price: 80%
Overall: 91%

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.

Specs & Package
Overall Score 91%
Version Reviewed Crucial ATI X800 Pro 256mb
Release Date Out Now
In The Box? 1 Crucial ATI X800 Pro 256mb Graphics Card
Drivers CD
Power Adapter Cable
S-Video Cable
VGA Cable
The Good Points One of the fastest on AGP today
Great visual quality
Remained cool when overclocked
The Bad Points Expensive
No Demo CD
Reviewers PC Setup AMD Athlon 64 4000+
Sapphire Axion RS480AS9-A58S Socket 939 Motherboard
Crucial 1280 MB DDR PC2700
ATI X800 Pro 256mb Graphics Card
Creative Labs Audigy 2 Sound Card (OEM)
180 GB Western Digital Hard Drive 7200 RPM, 8mb Cache
Sony 16x DVD-RW
Sony CD-RW (40x12x48x)
Creative Inspire 5.1 5300 Speakers
Viewsonic VP171s LCD Monitor

 

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