If a group of hardware
enthusiasts were to agree on one weakness that has
consistently plagued ATI, driver performance would likely
rank towards the top. On June 13th, ATI made a
significant driver release aimed toward improving both
performance and stability. We showed in our
Unitech Optimus 8500 eXP review that performance
increased noticeably moving from version 7.68 to 7.70.
The Catalyst 2.1 drivers yield a similar performance boost.
More importantly though, the new driver set exposes a host
of user-configurable options for adjusting anisotropic
filtering and SMOOTHVISION anti-aliasing, in addition to
display option for YPbPr. ATI recently released a
component output upgrade for the RADEON, that enables output
to a TV with component input. The Direct3D and OpenGL
tabs offer several more options than previous ATI drivers
and the compatibility-oriented options have been
consolidated into a single button. ATI has committed
to more regular drivers updates as well as improved methods
for feedback on current driver issues.
3D Prophet 8500
Every little bit
optimistic type, so when it comes to overclocking, I shoot
for the stars. Initially, the 3D Prophet achieved an
astronomical 320MHz core and 335MHz (effectively 670MHz)
memory clock using
Rage3D's tweak utility. I obtained some
impressive Quake III results, but 3D Mark 2001 SE wasn't
stable enough to complete a benchmarking run.
When all was
said and done, I was able to settle on 308/308MHz,
+33MHz for both the memory and processor. Despite
operating all the way up to 308MHz, the 3D Prophet is merely
able to pace ATI's own reference design. We we
perplexed by these results, so we ran them by Hercules' own
R&D department. Sure enough, Hercules confirmed a
timing issue with the Samsung DDR memory that caused lower
performance. Hercules also confirmed that a BIOS
revision is in the works, that should enhance the card's
Warcraft III - We
can wish, can't we?
Hercules doesn't include any gaming titles with the 3D
Prophet, so instead, we've taken a couple of screenshots in
the newly released Warcraft III from Blizzard. Unlike
the previous two Warcraft games, this one utilizes a 3D
rendering engine. Our 2.4GHz test machine had no
problem running Warcraft at 1280x1024 in 32-bit color.
on the 3D Prophet 8500 128MB
Setup, Quake 3 With and Without AA and Anisotropic Filtering