HiS Radeon X600 XT iCooler VIVO review

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square-hid-x600xt.jpgExcalibur Radeon X600 XT iCooler VIVO Limited EditionCompany: HiS - Hightech Information System
Website: www.hisdigital.com
MSRP: $229

** Some photo's have been added after the review was released. The sample we received somehow did not have ram-sinks on it. HiS send them to us so we applied them; took and added some photo's.

Another month, another graphics card. I tell you, technology is moving so fast we review sites can hardly keep up with it. So I can only imagine what kind of confusion this must be for the people that actually have to buy a graphics card.
Today's product is definitely new but is it just an older product in a new jacket? The product for today's review is another graphics card from HiS namely the HiS Excalibur X600 XT. HiS, my friends, is short for Hightech Information System, a Hong Kong company that is going very strong here in Europe right now. They make products with a reputation, products that differ from the competition. Today's product is no exception.

This is the HiS Excalibur X600 XT Limited Edition, a 220-230 EUR mid-range product targeted at the mainstream user. It is in fact a PCI Express model. What is PCI-Express you ask? A new slot that will slowly start to replace the AGP port. The AGP port is coming to the end of it's life cycle. As you know AGP is now at 8x (2GB/sec) and I know I shouldn't say it like that, but think of PCI-Express in terms of AGP 16x. It's effectively doubling bandwidth from 2 GB/sec towards a bi-directional 4 GB/sec. ATI has a native solution for PCI-Express where NVIDIA will use it's High Speed Interconnect bridged solution to handle the translation from the multiple serial busses to the card's native AGP interface. More on that later.

ATI's latest line-up for the high-end is the two X800XT/Pro cards, with the X600XT/Pro for the mid-end and the X300SE for the low-end. The full name of the product is the Excalibur X600 XT iCooler VIVO Limited Edition. We've explained that naming in detail already on the previous HiS review, Excalibur... RIGHT? King Arthur's sword my friends... and hey... there's movie out right now called King Arthur :) Anyway, the graphics card itself is targeted in the mid-range section of graphics cards. When we have a quick peek at the PCB, we can see it's closely based on ATI's reference design yet there are tiny differences alright.

Something that catches the eye instantly is the cooler, which is named iCooler. It is actually the same cooler as we saw in the 9600 XT Turbo review. It is a hefty cooling technology with a little LED built in, a plus for case-modders. This is fun stuff as it differs bigtime from ATI's reference cooling. Mind you that these two advantages are only available on this particular model.

The card itself has been equipped with 128 MB 128-Bit DDR memory. The products graphics core runs default at 500 MHz and while the box states it's memory at 740 MHz (370 MHz) the memory on our sample actually was clocked at 380 Mhz and thus is effectively doing 760 MHz.

Furthermore the product we received is the VIVO edition, meaning video in and output options, to complement a sizeable software bundle. Very nice.

SMARTSHADER 2.0 technology allows users to experience complex, movie-quality effects in next-generation 3D games and applications:

  • Programmable pixel and vertex shaders
  • 16 textures per pass
  • Pixel shaders up to 160 instructions with 128-bit floating point precision
    o Realistic lighting of any kind of surface
    o Varying properties of a material across a surface
    o Accurate modelling of objects with microstructure
    o Horizon mapping
  • Vertex shaders up to 1024 instructions with flow control
    o Procedural deformation
    o Fur rendering
    o Advanced keyframe interpolation
    o Shadow volume extrusion
    o Particle systems
    o Many light sources
    o Lens effects
    o Advanced matrix palette skinning
  • Multiple render target support
  • Shadow volume rendering acceleration
  • High precision 10-bit per channel frame buffer support
  • Supports DirectX® 9.0 and the latest version of OpenGL giving developers the freedom to create more complicated effects than ever before

Technology provides new levels of image quality using state-of-the-art Anti-Aliasing (AA) and Anisotropic Filtering (AF) techniques.

Anti-aliasing enhances image quality by smoothing jagged edges on object outlines. SMOOTHVISION 2.1 uses an advanced multi-sampling technique that takes up to 6 samples per pixel, coupled with powerful loss-less compression technology for maximum efficiency and performance at any display resolution.

Anisotropic filtering improves image quality by sharpening blurry textures to bring out finer detail. SMOOTHVISION 2.1 employs an adaptive algorithm that takes from 1 to 16 filtered samples per pixel as required to achieve ideal quality, without wasting effort on parts of the image that would not benefit. Two modes allow this feature to be optimized for performance or image quality, as desired.

HyperZ III+
The latest generation of ATI's innovative HYPER Z bandwidth saving technology, HYPER Z III+ plays a pivotal role in allowing RADEON 9800 series and RADEON 9600 series products to reach unprecedented levels of rendering performance. It builds on earlier versions of the technology by adding a more flexible Z-buffer cache that is optimized for the rendering of dynamic real-time shadows. Shadows play a key role in achieving realistic and immersive virtual environments, and will be used extensively in upcoming 3D game titles.

The RADEON VPU continues to provide industry-leading video playback with VIDEOSHADER technology: a seamless integration of pixel shaders with video. The RADEON VPU also offers FULLSTREAM video de-blocking technology that removes blocky artifacts (noise removal filtering) for captured video and provides sharper image quality.

The latest advancement in video processing technology, is a hardware accelerated filtering method that improves the performance and visual quality of streaming video playback.

VideoSoap provides advanced filtering to reduce speckling, improve sharpness and smooth blurry motion to provide high quality personal video recordings.


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