8500 is able to aggressively compete against the GeForce4 in
3DMark 2001 SE with the latest drivers. It is
unfortunate that 3DMark isn?t necessarily indicative of
real-world performance, but it does go to show that the
RADEON 8500 and GeForce4 processors are on fairly even
ground. Overclocked, the Optimus 8500 is even able to
pull away from the GeForce4 at 1280x1024.
3DMark 2001SE Anti-Aliasing Performance
anti-aliasing hits the Optimus 8500 particularly hard as
performance crawls at 1024x768 and 1280x1024. On the
other hand, the GeForce4 fares much better, likely due to
the inclusion of the Accuview anti-aliasing circuitry
onboard the graphics processor. Until developers start
taking advantage of the programmable nature of Smoothvision,
the RADEON 8500 will be forced to use the costly
super-sampling method for anti-aliasing. The V8200
GeForce3 card doesn't score in the 1280x1024 test because
that resolution requires more than 64MB of memory.
Overclocking The Optimus 8500
Can you really
overclock an overclocked card?
Technically, the 300MHz RADEON 8500 core is already
overclocked since ATI?s fastest RADEON product features a
275MHz core. Despite the Arctic Silver thermal
compound, we weren?t expecting much more headroom from the
processor. Like the GeForce4, ATI?s RADEON 8500 is
simply too complex for massive overclocking attempts.
As a matter of fact, we were only able to hit 306MHz before
the card started demonstrating signs of instability.
However, the 3.3ns BGA memory modules (rated for 300MHz
operation) were stable up to 324MHz ? a 50MHz overclock!
RADEON 8500 features a few notable attributes otherwise
absent from the GeForce4. It?s no secret that ATI
offers some of the best video acceleration on the market,
both in terms of quality and performance. Full
compliance with the DirectX 8.1 specification may come in to
play later this year as DirectX 8 games become more widely
available (ATI supports Pixel Shader 1.4 while NVIDIA drew
the line at version 1.0). Though ATI?s drivers have
been the subject of criticism, stability and performance
have both been improving in the latest releases.
Finally, ATI sells RADEON 8500 boards for significantly less
than high-end GeForce4 cards. NVIDIA has recently
started combating this disadvantage with the GeForce4 Ti
4200, but ATI?s high-end processor still has enough going
for it, to be a compelling product.
where the Optimus eXP gets into a little but of trouble.
Unitech has done a marvelous job of ensuring that the card
performs well, includes an exciting bundle and comes
equipped with the hardware necessary to interface with
digital displays, analog displays and televisions.
However, priced around $270, it is also slightly more
expensive than many GeForce4 Ti 4400 cards. Finally,
it isn?t easy to ignore that the Optimus 8500 eXP is
suffering from very limited availability. We hope
Unitech is able to get the product into the hands of
resellers, as there will surely be demand for a ?tweaked?
128MB RADEON 8500 card.
It is certainly nice to see Unitech showing
the fortitude to support the hardware enthusiast community
with an enhanced video card. The RADEON 8500 processor
is a very capable product that offers competitive 3D
performance and standard-setting video acceleration.
The Optimus 8500?s price may be a little lofty for less
casual gamers, but for those who can appreciate the bundle
and extra performance, it may be worth the price of
admission. After all, this is one of the best Radeon
8500 based cards we've ever seen in the HH Lab.
We're giving the
Unitech Optimus 8500 eXP a HotHardware Heat Meter Rating
get some in the HotHardware PC Hardware Forum, now!