Unitech Optimus 8500 eXP

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The Unitech Optimus 8500 eXP
A RADEON 8500 tweaked out for the masses

By -Chris Angelini
May 29th, 2002

 

3D Mark 2001 SE is a synthetic test of DirectX 8.1 performance.  Madonion.com has added a special Advanced Pixel Shader test that demonstrates the RADEON 8500's Pixel Shader 1.4 support, though it doesn't factor in to the final 3D Mark score.

MadOnion's 3DMark 2001SE
DirectX 8.1 performance with Remedy's MaxFX Engine
 

The Optimus 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
Stress testing with AA

Four-sample 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!

ATI?s 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. 

This is 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 of...                                 7.5     

 

 Come get some in the HotHardware PC Hardware Forum, now!

 

Tags:  Tech, XP, 8500, Optimus, TIM, TIMU, IM, Unite

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