If you read our ATI Crossfire on a Budget article, you would quickly know that the new and cheap ATI R530PRO2 GPU otherwise known as Radeon X1300XT graphics card from ATI isn't a bad product when it comes to performance and its attractive price.
It's actually quite good. Everything about it in all honesty is quite positive bar the fact that you cannot seem to buy them anywhere but that should change soon enough. The thing is though, the card does exist, and there are plenty of manufactures producing them - we have four with us today which we will examine against each other.
We will be looking at what GeCube, PowerColor, Sapphire and HIS have to offer us in this low-end department. We will have a quick look at each card, what cooler they use, if there are any significant differences between the cards, along with what is included in the package.
We will be throwing in the Crossfire results from the other day just for the heck of it along side our other cards by themselves. Let's get started and see which manufacturer is offering the best Radeon X1300XT.
The Cards - GeCube X1300XT
While initially we thought we had on our hands the X1300XT Platinum from GeCube, a bit more research found we had the model just underneath it. GeCube offer four variants of the X1300XT - the standard DDR-2 model, a DDR-3 128MB and 256MB (which we have) and a Platinum version with 256MB of DDR-3 memory and a higher core clock speed.
Having a quick look at the box there isn't too much to get excited about. Being a lower end card, the box is smaller then our standard mid-range and upwards models. The front lets us know that 256MB of DDR3 is included along with a few other key technologies.
Turning the box over there is a bit more detail on the specification of the card along with a diagram on how to make use of the connectivity on offer from the card. Chances are that you're not going to be having a look at it so let's open here up and see what we have inside.
GeCube are typically a pretty budget card, this is done by keeping the extras to a minimum and once we open the box up we see this is as true as usual. There is a user manual, DVI to VGA converter and S-Video to S-Video and RCA cable.
Moving on to the card itself we can clearly see that the cooler looks pretty stylish. Being quite a large cooler, it does cover a majority of the card and doesn't let us see a whole lot. You will notice that there is no extra PCI Express power connector for the card at the rear.
The back of the card simply has a plate to hold the heatsink fan in place and all your normal array of circuitry. All 256MB of the DDR-3 memory is located on the front of the card and hidden under the larger cooler.
Finally moving to the I/O side of things we see a couple DVI ports and an S-Video port. This makes it a great little card for people wanting to use two good quality LCD screens but not purchase some expensive, such as monitors which require Dual Link slots.
The standard DDR-2 X1300XT from GeCube carries a 500MHz core clock speed although the DDR-3 model we are testing comes with a slightly increased 550MHz core and the DDR-3 memory is clock speed at 1360MHz DDR.
The Cards - PowerColor X1300XT
Moving onto card number two, we have with us the PowerColor X1300XT. Like the GeCube we have another small box on our hands and all the normal information is located on the front of it. We can see that this card also comes with 256MB of DDR-3 memory and Dual DVI. There is a little run down on some more core specific specs and a mention of it being Vista Ready.
Flicking the box over we have a large run down on what AVIVO is and what it has to offer and we also have a small blurb on the X1300XT and some key features. What is interesting is that the key features mention that the X1300XT has 256MB of DDR-2 memory as opposed to the DDR-3 that is mentioned on the front of the box.
Inside the box there isn't a whole lot. We have a DVI to VGA connector, S-Video to RCA connector, CD with some Cyberlink software and a quick installation guide. Another very limited package but it is to be expected from these cheaper cards. The smaller package lets ATI and its partners be more aggressive on the already very aggressive low-end segment.
Moving onto the card we again have quite a large cooler again with it covering up a large majority of the card. Like all other X1300XTs, we have no extra power connector.
Like we saw on the front of the box, the PowerColor X1300XT offers Dual DVI. We can also see the S-Video adapter for people wanting to make use of the TV-Out ability. The Dual DVI is a nice touch again like the GeCube model with everything else just generally pretty standard across the board.
Along with the DDR3 model we have with us today PowerColor also have 256MB and 512MB DDR-2 versions. The card comes clocked with a more moderate 500MHz core and 1000MHz DDR memory speed. It is the slowest clocked card out of the pack but we will see how this impacts performance.
The Cards - Sapphire X1300XT
Number 3 on the board is the Sapphire X1300XT and its very funky white box. The front of the box is a pretty standard setup for Sapphire. While being white and having a funky alien on the front, we also have some of the main features. 256MB of memory, DVI, HD Video, PCI Express along with a note about The Da Vinci Code being inside along with a mention that this is an overclocked edition. We also have a little Windows Vista Ready certification logo in the bottom right corner of the box.
The back of the box follows our standard setup with a blurb on the card and bit about what is included inside the box in a number of languages. We also can see some of the key features across the bottom of the box and awards that have been given to Sapphire over the past few years.
With the outside done we dive into the inside and have with us a copy of The Da Vinci Code game along with a copy of PowerDVD, component out cables, DVI to VGA connector and S-Video to RCA connector.
The Sapphire X1300XT like our other cards here today also has quite a large cooler but quite a small fan. It's pretty standard though with the air running across the fins and cooling both the core and the memory located on the front of the card.
A quick look at the back again sees nothing that stands out though we can see that the heatsink fan is screwed in but more importantly that the card is a DDR-3 model which isn't mentioned on the front of the box. The front of the box only mentioned that 256MB of GDDR memory was included.
Moving to the side of the card it is the only one here that doesn't offer Dual DVI. Instead we have a single DVI port, VGA port and our S-Video out connection that can be used with the cables included in the box.
The Sapphire X1300XT is another DDR-3 memory card that comes with an increased core speed of 600MHz and a memory clock speed of 1400MHz DDR. Sapphire like most other companies also offer a DDR-2 model with lower clock speeds at a cheaper price.
The Cards - HIS X1300XT
Last but not least is the HIS X1300XT which we looked at just the other day. For people who didn't read our Crossfire on a Budget article we will have a quick look at the HIS X1300XT again. If you did read the article, you may as well skip over to the next page to get stuck into the test system and the first page of the results.
We have our standard IceQ box which has the window in the middle so you can clearly see the card and the cooler that it comes with. We also have a list of our main specs for the card like the 256MB of DDR-3 memory included on the card and the fact that the card is an iTurbo model with increased core and memory speeds.
Moving to the back of the box we have our extended specifications, picture of the card, and some more key features running across the bottom along with just a small amount of awards that HIS have won of various models over the years.
Inside the box we have a pretty standard HIS line up. Included is a driver CD with a copy of the iTurbo software, DVD disk with Dungeon Siege and a few other goodies, manual, DVI to VGA connectors, S-Video to Component and an S-Video cable. While one of the larger bundles nothing that will get you too excited.
On to the card itself it is of course covered by the quite large cooler and doesn't let us see a whole lot. Turning the card over we can also see that there isn't much more then the back plate to keep the large heatsink fan in place.
Just looking at the I/O side of things for the last time we can see like our PowerColor and GeCube models, we have got Dual DVI ports again and our S-Video connector for TV out ability.
The HIS being an iTurbo model is quite aggressive when it comes to speeds. With the iTurbo software installed, a core of 587MHz is achievable and 1380MHz DDR on the memory. The iTurbo software is installed during all our benchmarks and the overclock is in effect.
Benchmarks - Test System Setup and 3DMark05
Test System Setup
Processor(s): Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 3430MHz (381MHz FSB with 4:5 memory)
Motherboard(s): DFI Infinity 975X (Supplied by Bronet)
Memory: 2 X 1GB G.Skill HZ PC8000 @ 476MHz 4-4-4-12 (Supplied by Bronet)
Hard Disk(s): Hitachi 80GB 7200RPM SATA 2
Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2
Drivers: ATI Catalyst 6.9 and DX9c
Nothing has changed for our new faithful test system. We will run our normal array of benchmarks which covers all major graphics card technologies like DX9, OpenGL, HDR, AA and AF.
There is little difference in clock speeds between the HIS and Sapphire cards but the GeCube and especially the PowerColor cards are clocked quite a bit slower, so let's see what type of difference that actually makes in our benchmarks.
Version and / or Patch Used: Build 120
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark05/
Buy It Here
3DMark05 is now the second latest version in the popular 3DMark "Gamers Benchmark" series. It includes a complete set of DX9 benchmarks which tests Shader Model 2.0 and above.
For more information on the 3DMark05 benchmark, we recommend you read our preview here.
We can see the high clocked HIS and Sapphire cards come out the fastest, the GeCube with its lower clocks trails just behind and the PowerColor sits a little further back again.
Benchmarks - 3DMark06
Version and / or Patch Used: Build 102
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here
3DMark06 is the very latest version of the "Gamers Benchmark" from FutureMark. The newest version of 3DMark expands on the tests in 3DMark05 by adding graphical effects using Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) which will push even the best DX9 graphics cards to the extremes.
3DMark06 also focuses on not just the GPU but the CPU using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library to effectively test single and Dual Core processors.
We again see a very similar picture as our 3DMark05 tests with the high clocked HIS and Sapphire cards coming out in front. The GeCube again sits behind both cards and the PowerColor again sits at the back of the pack.
Benchmarks - Half Life 2 (Lost Coast)
Half Life 2 (Lost Coast)
Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.com
Buy It Here
By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism, responsiveness and new HDR technology, Half-Life 2 Lost Coast opens the door to a world where the player's presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors even the emotions of both friends and enemies.
We benchmark Half Life 2 Lost Coast with our own custom timedemos as to avoid possible driver optimizations using the "record demo_name" command and loading the timedemo with the "timedemo demo_name" command - For a full list of the commands, click here.
Moving to our first real world test we can see that in our non-HDR tests the card differences are quite easy to see. Moving away from our synthetic tests, our non-HDR results show performance with Crossfire not to be that big.
Benchmarks - PREY
Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: HardwareOC Custom Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.humanhead.com
Product Homepage: http://www.prey.com
Buy It Here
PREY is one of the newest games to be added to our benchmark line-up. It is based off the Doom 3 engine and offers stunning graphics passing what we've seen in Quake 4 and does put quite a lot of strain on our test systems.
While we see a difference at both resolutions, the higher resolution doesn't really offer us a playable setup. The lower resolution though while all the cards are above 40FPS you really want to be sitting around the Sapphire/HIS area for a good gaming experience.
Benchmarks - F.E.A.R.
Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-In Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.vugames.com
Product Homepage: http://www.whatisfear.com/us/
Buy It Here
F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) is an intense combat experience with rich atmosphere and a deeply intense paranormal storyline presented entirely in first person. Be the hero in your own spine-tingling epic of action, tension, and terror...and discover the true meaning of F.E.A.R.
F.E.A.R. minimum across the board is pretty low at the lower resolution but we can again see the clear differences between the cards.
Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF
High Quality AA and AF
Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.
3DMark05 HQ tests show us the same results as our normal run with the scores only being lower.
We again see a consistent set of results across the board; we can clearly see that HDR and AA just isn't really an option for users of the X1300XT unless you venture into the Crossfire arena.
Finally we leave with PREY and we see similar results to what we see in Lost Coast above. While most of the cards are scoring over 30FPS, with this being an average, performance is going to drop below 30 and you're going to get quite a choppy gaming experience and not so enjoyable.
ATI Radeon X1300XT performance was very positive when we looked at it in our budget Crossfire article and while I do try so hard to avoid the cheap cards, because most the time they are so boring and pulling a miserable average in all our games, that testing is so long and tedious. X1300XT is different and manages to offer some respectable numbers.
Out of the four cards we have with us today, they all have their pros and cons. HIS is a great little performer, it has a nice meaty cooler that cools well and is quiet. It also comes with a nice overclock out of the box. This does come at a cost though; it is more expensive and also takes up two slots. When you're buying cards in this area, cost is normally quite important.
Sapphire gave us a bit of a shock with performance being constantly the fastest and doesn't need two slots. The cooler is also quiet but not as fancy as what HIS offer. Also on offer is a full version copy of The Da Vinci Code to make the deal all the more sweeter. With that said though, you are paying for the game with Sapphire again normally carrying a slightly higher price tag.
PowerColor performance was a bit disappointing. We aren't too sure why PowerColor would opt to have quite a low core and memory speed on the card but we can clearly see that it has an impact on performance.
Finally we leave with the GeCube offering, performance shows it to be only slightly behind the HIS and Sapphire cards. The package is light but that is to be expected from these low-end cards and GeCube. Pricing wise it should also be one of the cheapest on the market.
The ATI Radeon X1300XT is a good graphics card but the only real problem with it is that we can't seem to find it anywhere for sale. It does make sense a bit as when we compared the performance of the 1650PRO to the DDR-3 X1300XT, performance while being consistently faster on the X1650PRO wasn't a huge amount. The price difference between both cards also seems to be quite low. All this amounts to people feeling it unnecessary to carry the X1300XT and simply push the X1650PRO as the low/mid range performance option from ATI.
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