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VisionTek Radeon 9800 XT - 256mb

Manufacturer: VisionTek
Street Price: $485

by Dean Barker  (12/05/2003)

Introduction

Perhaps I'm one of the last hold outs left.  There are lots of different kinds of gamers out there and for me, it begins and ends with the first person shooter.  As such, frame rates have always reigned supreme with me.  As the horsepower of today's VGA cards has increased so has the desire to turn the eye candy on.  Playing Unreal Tournament with maxed out FSAA and Anisotropic Filtering is becoming a playable option for many as we upgrade our older ATi and NVidia cards.

Today, we are fortunate enough to do something a little different.  Typically we have focused on more budget and mid range priced video cards that the bulk of us can afford and/or justify.  Flipping to the other side of the scale today, we find ourselves with a VisionTek Radeon 9800 XT.  By all accounts, ATi has surpassed NVidia with image quality and raw horsepower making themselves the act to follow.  My first thought when putting this review together was doing a battle of the titans sort of thing but that has been done way too much.  So we have decided to take a more practical approach.  Lots of you are looking at upgrading either now or on a Christmas list so lets take a look at the 9800 XT in the context of, is it worth all the extra upgrade dollars or not.  Wasted horsepower and money or a wet dream come true.  First, we want to look at some copy/paste specs before we jump in too far.      

Specifications and Features

  • Powered by ATi Radeon™ 9800 XT VPU
  • Memory configuration: 256mb DDR
  • Eight parallel rendering pipelines
  • Four parallel geometry engines
  • AGP 8X support
  • SMARTSHADER™ 2.1
  • Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 programmable vertex and pixel shaders in hardware
  • 2.0 Vertex Shaders support vertex programs up to 65,280 instructions with flow control
  • 2.0 Pixel Shaders support up to 16 textures per rendering pass
  • New F-buffer technology supports pixel shader programs with unlimited instructions
  • 128-bit, 64-bit & 32-bit per pixel floating point color formats
  • Multiple Render Target (MRT) support
  • Shadow volume rendering acceleration
  • Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL® via extensions
  • SMOOTHVISION™ 2.1
  • 2x/4x/6x full scene anti-aliasing modes
  • Adaptive algorithm with programmable sample patterns
  • 2x/4x/8x/16x anisotropic filtering modes
  • Adaptive algorithm with bi-linear (performance) and tri-linear (quality) options
  • HYPER Z™ III+
  • 3-level Hierarchical Z-Buffer with early Z test
  • Lossless Z-Buffer compression (up to 24:1)
  • Fast Z-Buffer Clear
  • Z cache optimized for real-time shadow rendering
  • TRUFORM™ 2.0
  • Second generation N-Patch higher order surface support
  • Discrete and continuous tessellation levels per polygon
  • Displacement mapping
  • VIDEOSHADER™
  • Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video
  • FULLSTREAM™ video de-blocking technology
  • Noise removal filtering for captured video
  • MPEG-2 decoding with motion compensation, iDCT and color space conversion
  • All-format DTV/HDTV decoding
  • Adaptive de-interlacing and frame rate conversion
  • Dual integrated display controllers
  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel 400 MHz DACs
  • Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI 1.0 compliant and HDCP ready)
  • Integrated TV Output support up to 1024x768 resolution

 

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