ATI Chipsets

Below you can see our breakdown of the GPU guide for ATI video cards:

ATI Craphics Chips Overview
DirectX 9 with PS2.0b and VS2.0 Support
X700 Pro RV410 8 1 6 128/256 128
X700 XT? RV410 500 1000 8 1 6 128/256 128
X800 SE? R420 425 800 8 1 6 128/256 256
X800 Pro R420 475 900 12 1 6 256 256
X800 GT? R420 425 900 16 1 6 256 256
X800 XT R420 500 1000 16 1 6 256 256
X800 XT? R423 500 1000 16 1 6 256 256
X800 XT PE R420 520 1120 16 1 6 256 256
X800 XT PE? R423 520 1120 16 1 6 256 256
DirectX 9 with PS2.0 and VS2.0 Support
9500 R300 275 540 4 1 4 64/128 128
9500 Pro R300 275 540 8 1 4 128 128
9550 RV350 250 400 4 1 2 64/128/256 128
9550 SE RV350 250 400 4 1 2 64/128/256 64
9600 RV350 325 400 4 1 2 128/256 128
9600 Pro RV350 400 600 4 1 2 128/256 128
9600 SE RV350 325 400 4 1 2 64/128/256 64
9600 XT RV360 500 600 4 1 2 128/256 128
X300 RV370 325 400 4 1 2 64/128/256 128
X300 SE RV370 325 400 4 1 2 64/128 64
X600 Pro RV380 400 600 4 1 2 128/256 128
X600 XT RV380 500 740 4 1 2 128/256 128
9700 R300 275 540 8 1 4 128 256
9700 Pro R300 325 620 8 1 4 128 256
9800 R350 325 600 8 1 4 128 256
9800 "Pro" R350/360 380 680 8 1 4 128/256 128
9800 Pro 128 R350/360 380 680 8 1 4 128 256
9800 Pro 256 R350/360 380 700 8 1 4 256 256
9800 SE 128 R350 325 580 8 1 4 128 128
9800 SE 256 R350 380 680 4 1 4 128 256
9800 XT R360 412 730 8 1 4 256 256
DirectX 8.1 with PS1.4 and VS1.1 Support
8500 LE R200 250 500 4 2 1 64/128 128
8500 R200 275 550 4 2 1 64/128 128
9000 RV250 250 400 4 1 1 64/128 128
9000 Pro RV250 275 550 4 1 1 64/128 128
9100 R200 250 500 4 2 1 64/128 128
9100 Pro R200 275 550 4 2 1 64/128 128
9200 SE RV280 200 333 4 1 1 64/128 64
9200 RV280 250 400 4 1 1 64/128/256 128
9200 Pro RV280 300 600 4 1 1 64/128 128
9250 RV280 240 400 4 1 1 128/256 128
DirectX 7
Radeon VE^ RV100 183 183 1 3 0 32 64
7000 PCI^ RV100 166 333 1 3 0 32? 64
7000 AGP^ RV100 183 366 1 3 0 32/64 64
Radeon LE R100 148 296 2 3 0.5 32 128
Radeon SDR R100 166 166 2 3 0.5 32/64 128
Radeon DDR R100 183 366 2 3 0.5 32/64 128
7200 R100 183 183 2 3 0.5 32/64 64
7500 LE RV200 250 360 2 3 0.5 32? 128
7500 AIW RV200 250 333 2 3 0.5 32? 128
7500 RV200 290 460 2 3 0.5 32/64 128
* RAM clock is the effective clock speed, so 250 MHz DDR is listed as 500 MHz.
** Textures/Pipeline is the number of unique texture lookups. ATI has implementations that can lookup 3 textures, but two of the lookups must be from one texture.
*** Vertex pipelines is estimated on certain architectures. NVIDIA says their GFFX cards have a "vertex array", but in practice it performs as shown.
^ Radeon 7000 and VE Series had their Transform and Lighting Engine removed, and hence cannot perform fixed function vertex processing.

As far as the various models are concerned, ATI has DX7, DX8.1, and DX9 parts, as well as an unofficial DX9 with SM2.0b support - unofficial due to the fact that Microsoft has not actually certified this "in between" version of DX9. ATI has features that are part of SM3.0, but they do not include the full SM3.0 feature set. When they enable their 2.0b features, they fail WHQL compliance. Since not having WHQL compliance creates concerns among users (the dreaded "This device driver is not certified for use by Microsoft" warning), ATI will turn them off by default, and many people will not know enough to reenable them. It may not seem like a big deal, but software companies are less likely to optimize for non-standard features - especially ones that are disabled by default - so SM3.0 is more likely to see support than SM2.0b.

Generalizing somewhat, we can say that each family of ATI cards outperforms the older generation cards. There are, of course, exceptions, such as the 9550/9600 SE cards which are outclassed by the older 8500/9100 models, and the performance of the 9200SE is rather anemic in comparison to the 7500 in the majority of games. However, the added features and performance tweaks usually make up for the difference in raw numbers, and so comparing performance between the various generations of hardware does not always work.

Older ATI cards lacked support for multi-sample antialiasing, resorting to super-sampling as an alternative. Super-sampling, if you don't know, simply renders the screen at a higher resolution and then filters it down to a lower resolution, and in most cases it is limited to a maximum of 1600x1200. The quality is actually quite good with super-sampling, but the performance hit is enormous. Only with the R3xx cores did ATI begin to support multi-sampling, which helps to these cards to beat the previous generation when AA is enabled. Of course, once ATI did begin supporting multi-sampling, they did it very well, and the quality of their rotated grid sampling was regarded as being superior to the NVIDIA FX line.

ATI has also done anisotropic filtering very well for quite some time, although many believe it is due to "cheats" or "unfair optimizations". The real difference between ATI's implementation of AF and NVIDIA's is that ATI used a faster distance calculation. "True" anisotropic filtering does not really exist as such, and in the end it really comes down to getting improved image quality without killing performance. Today, it is very difficult to distinguish between the optimized and unoptimized filtering methods that both companies employ, and ATI has said they will address any situations where their image quality suffers.

At present, it is worth mentioning that all of the 9800 series chips and X800 series chips use the same base core. ATI validates the chips and in cases where portions of the chips fail, they can deactivate some of the pipelines and still sell the chip as a "light" version. With the 9800 SE cards, some people were able to "soft mod" their chips into full 9800 Pro cards, but success was not guaranteed. There are rumors that the same can be done with the X800 Pro cards, although success seems to be relatively rare right now, likely due to the large size of the chips. As the manufacturing process improves, success rates should also improve, but it's still a gamble. 9500/Pro cards were also based off the more complex 9700/Pro chip, and quite a few people were able to mod these cards into faster versions, but the introduction of the 9600 series put an end to that. We do not recommend purchasing the lower end cards with the intent to soft mod unless you are willing to live with the consequences, namely that success is by no means guaranteed and it will void the warranty. In our opinion, the relatively small price difference just isn't enough to warrant the risk.

Index The Way It's Meant to be Played
POST A COMMENT

43 Comments

View All Comments

  • Myrandex - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    We can get some Matrox Parhelia action in there too to go along with the missing 3DFS =) I am wondering what 'Argon' is under the AMD platform (listed with the K6 CPUs). I never remember hearing an Argon codename or anything.
    Sweet article though.
    Jason
    Reply
  • CrystalBay - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    Very nicely done... Reply
  • jshaped - Monday, September 6, 2004 - link

    missing option - 3DFX !!!
    ye old 3DFX how thee has served me so well
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now