Are we impressed? Yes we are, if not by the performance of such an immature product, the feature set certainly got us convinced that the new Radeon means business. It is good to see that there’s still manufacturers out there that can design a graphics accelerator that is competitive with those offered by Nvidia. ATi proved it could design a capable graphics accelerator last year with the introduction of the original Radeon, which was unfortunately quickly bested in performance by Nvidia and their aggressive product cycle.
However this time around ATi seems to be very serious about the new Radeon product line. Our contact mentioned they’d be moving to a unified driver architecture too and would be putting a whole team of programmers behind it to get them on par with Nvidia, both in driver quality and performance but also in more frequent releases of new drivers. If this is indeed the case we should see some interesting results when the Radeon 8500 and the GeForce3 go head to head.
Upon looking at the benchmarks we can only say that we’re impressed by the fact that ATi didn’t shy away from releasing an early sample for testing, as one thing is for sure, the results it turned in are very preliminary, we could be seeing performance increases of up to 50% once the final product hits the market in September. Our current benchmarks indicate that most of the performance figures are still hampered by underperforming drivers, and all we can do is indeed wait for new driver releases that’ll probably coincide with the Radeon’s 8500 launch in September.
Overall the Radeon is a well-rounded product, it offers an impressive array of features that will please both the gamer, multimedia enthusiast as well as the workstation user with its HydraVision capabilities. However, although ATi showed it has the balls to step forward and show what they have in store for us in the next few months, it would have been nice and maybe even a better idea if they’d come out with a product that had all features working and enabled and also offered much more in terms of performance. In this case I’m sure the competition and especially the PR people at Nvidia will make good use of the Radeon 8500’s benchmarks and disabled features to, once again, tell the world that they have the fastest graphics accelerator currently available.
Furthermore, the drivers we’ve been supplied did cause some headaches before we got them up and running and they were certainly not the pinnacle of stability and as evident by the benchmarks they need some serious work in the performance department. Pricing is yet to be determined but we’re guessing it’ll be in the $350 range, similar to that of the GeForce3. If ATi does brush up on the drivers and implements all features correctly, their Radeon 8500 could very well be the obvious choice for a high-end graphics accelerator, both in terms of performance and features. Until then, September, we’re sure Nvidia will do all it can to discredit ATi’s new Radeon and quite possibly release a GeForce3 Ultra to secure the performance crown.
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