Summary & Conclusion
Benchmark Summary: The RADEON XPRESS 200 performed quite well throughout our battery of tests, especially considering the relative immaturity of the reference motherboard we tested. In all of the benchmarks we ran, the RADEON XPRESS 200 and nForce 3 Ultra swapped victories and performed at very similar levels. In the Business and Content Creation Winstone 2004 tests, however, the nForce 3 Ultra had a distinct performance advantage. Comparing the RADEON XPRESS 200's IGP performance to its performance when using a discreet graphics card, showed that ATi's new IGP general system performance was on equal footing, whether using the IGP or a discreet card, in every test except the games.
ATi seems to have done a good job with the RADEON XPRESS 200 chipset. Even though we compared the performance of a BETA reference board to an established and mature, publicly available motherboard based on NVIDIA's nForce 3 Ultra, the RADEON XPRESS 200 was very competitive. Based on the results we've seen here, we'd have to say ATi has successfully developed a chipset for the Athlon 64 / Sempron that performs on par with it's competition in most circumstances. The RADEON XPRESS 200's feature set is a bit behind the curve though. ATi's Northbridge has a complete feature-set, with 22 PCI Express lanes and a full DirectX 9.0 compliment IGP that's currently unrivaled in this space, but ATi's Southbridge lacks some features, like SATA II, Hi-Def Audio, and GigE for example, that can be found on other platforms. ATi tell us that they are currently working on an updated Southbridge, however, that should level the playing field a bit.
We're eager to see what large manufactures like MSI, Asus or Abit can do with this chipset. Should any top-tier motherboard manufacturer produce an enthusiast class board based on the RADEON XPRESS 200, we suspect it would be well received by the enthusiast community, especially if it incorporates a full compliment of overclocking features and better integrated audio at an affordable price. ATi tells us they expect motherboard based on the RADEON XPRESS 200 to be somewhat more expensive than board based on VIA's chipset but in the same range as NVIDIA's nForce 4. We also think these same manufacturers could sell quite a few motherboards to corporate or casual computer users who'll be more than pleased with the performance and features of the RADEON XPRESS 200's IGP. We'll have to wait and see what the future holds for the RADEON XPRESS 200, but if their reference board's performance is an indicator, we think the RADEON XPRESS 200's future looks bright.