A new budget graphics chipset is upon us - the SiS Xabre 400. SiS have been quite successful in the motherboard chipset industry in the past, with their SiS645DX and more recently, SiS648 chipsets performing on par with the likes of competing VIA and Intel chipsets - if not better. However, in the graphics chipset industry, SiS have not been as successful due to the fact that their products have nearly always been directed at users requiring strong 2D performance and a rich feature-set, rather than high-end gamers.
Looking to change this, SiS have recently introduced their latest graphics chipset, the Xabre 400. Being the first to feature both AGP 8x and DirectX 8.1 support, the Xabre 400 certainly looks like an awesome chipset on paper. It also features hardware pixel shading, however, lacks a hardware vertex shader, thus forcing vertex shading to be emulated by the CPU. This obviously means that the processor takes greater load, which could create a bottleneck for users running less powerful processors.
Although the card features AGP 8x, it is unlikely that this will have any affect on real-world performance. This is due to the fact that the extra bandwidth is potentially underutilised because once texture data is transferred to the card's local memory, the bus sits relatively idle. As current games are yet to utilise a video card's available memory, it's unlikely that the AGP bus will be heavily accessed, rendering fast AGP transfer rates useless. This is also the reason why we have not seen a significant performance difference between AGP 2x and AGP 4x.
I will not go too deep into the technical specifications of the chipset as these have already been discussed in great details in our original review of the chipset. In this article I will mainly be focusing on the card itself and how it compares to nVidia's competing chipsets.
The first graphics card to hit the market featuring the SiS Xabre 400 chipset is the Triplex Xabre Pro. How does it compare against the competition and most importantly, is it worth your hard earned dollars? Let's find out.