ATI Radeon 8500 64MB
Author: David Pitlyuk
Date Posted: April 24th, 2002
SLRating: SLRating: 8.5/10
Bottom Line: The Radeon 8500 64MB is a great overall card with good features, good performance, and good quality.
http://www.slcentral.com/c/h/r/ati/radeon850064

Introduction

In our Radeon 7500 review we did back in January, we mentioned that we would also be taking a look at the Radeon 8500 and 8500DV in the upcoming weeks. Albeit a little late, we now take a look at the Radeon 8500 with the 8500DV to be posted on or around May 3rd (so look for that:)…).

Alright let me first start out by stating that ATI has released a 128MB version of the Radeon 8500 and keep in mind that we are looking at the 64MB flavor. Unfortunately ATI has yet to send us the 128MB version so we will not be looking at the benchmarks for that card. One thing to know is the price comparison between the two if you end up being interested in purchasing the ATI Radeon 8500 series. We searched the two cards on our SLPrices database and we found these prices:

So based on our search make sure to keep these prices in mind (and check the links for the most up-to-date price) if you do end up purchasing the card.

Specs

System requirements

  • Pentium® 4/III/II/Celeron™, AMD® K6/Athlon® or compatible with AGP 2X or AGP 2X/4X universal slot
  • 64MB of system memory
  • Installation software requires CD-ROM drive
  • DVD playback requires DVD drive

Graphics controller

  • RADEON™ 8500 graphics processing unit (GPU)

Memory configuration

  • 64MB of double data rate memory

Operating systems support

  • Windows® 98/98SE
  • Windows® Me
  • Windows® 2000
  • Windows® XP

Monitor support

  • CRT Monitor: 15-pin VGA connector
  • TV and VCR: s-video or composite connector
  • DVI-I (flat panel display) connector

Display support

  • Register compatible with VGA
  • BIOS compatible with VESA for super VGA
  • DDC1/2b/2b+ monitor support
  • VESA Display Power Management Support
  • Separate horizontal and vertical synchronization at TTL levels

Features

  • TRUFORM™
  • SMARTSHADER™
  • DirectX® 8.1 support
  • OpenGL® 1.3
  • SMOOTHVISION™ anti-aliasing
  • HYPER Z™ II
  • CHARISMA ENGINE™ II
  • PIXEL TAPESTRY™ II
  • VIDEO IMMERSION™ II
  • High Performance Memory Support
  • Dual Display Support
  • Integrated Transformation, Clipping and Lighting
  • Twin Cache Architecture
  • SuperScalar Rendering
  • Single-Pass Multi-texturing
  • True Color Rendering
  • Triangle Setup Engine
  • Texture Cache
  • Bilinear/Trilinear Filtering
  • Line & Edge Anti-aliasing
  • Full-Screen Anti-aliasing
  • Texture Compositing
  • Texture Decompression
  • Specular Highlights
  • Perspectively Correct Texture Mapping
  • Mip-Mapping
  • Z-buffering and Double-buffering
  • Emboss, Dot Product 3 and Environment bump mapping
  • Spherical, Dual-Paraboloid and Cubic environment mapping
  • Fog effects, texture lighting, video textures, reflections, shadows, spotlights, LOD biasing and texture morphing

Warranty

  • 3-year limited warranty

Features

3D gaming

  • Powered by the revolutionary RADEON™ 8500 GPU and 64MB of DDR memory for the fastest and most advanced 3D graphics on the market
  • Features ATI's innovative TRUFORM™ technology that makes the outlines of 3D characters and objects look smoother and more natural than ever before
  • High resolution 32-bit 3D gaming up to 2048x1536
  • ATI's HYPER Z™ II technology conserves memory bandwidth for improved performance in demanding applications and boosts effective bandwidth by over 25%
  • SMOOTHVISION™ anti-aliasing - the most advanced anti-aliasing to eliminate distracting visual artifacts for smoother looking images and without serious performance compromise

Visual effects

  • ATI's new SMARTSHADER™ technology takes advantage of the DirectX® 8.1 features to enable more complex and realistic texture and lighting effects
  • The only graphics board to support DirectX® 8.1
  • Best performance for today's and tomorrow's demanding applications
  • Full support and compliance with OpenGL® 1.3 applications
  • CHARISMA ENGINE™ II supports full Transformation, Clipping and Lighting (T&L) at 75 million triangles/second peak processing capability
  • PIXEL TAPESTRY™ II, the RADEON™ 8500 3D rendering engine, powers an incredible 2.4 Gigatexels per second for the highest fill rates in 32-bit at high resolutions

Dual monitor support

  • Leading-edge HYDRAVISION™ technology supports traditional CRT monitors, flat panel displays and TVs
  • Multi-task with MultiDesk - play multi-monitor games, or work in different applications on each monitor without having to switch back-and-forth
  • Assign 'Hot Key' shortcuts for the most used functions
  • Vary settings from one application to the next, or choose global settings that determine the behavior of windows and dialog boxes for all applications in your multi-monitor environment
  • Learn more about HYDRAVISION™

Video playback

  • ATI's VIDEO IMMERSION™ II technology enables integration of industry-leading digital video features, including advanced de-interlacing algorithms for unprecedented video quality and integrated digital TV decode capability
  • Includes programmable gamma for the overlay and Frame Rate Conversion (Temporal Filtering)
  • Hardware DVD saves the expense of buying a separate MPEG-2/DVD decoder card and motion compensation allows for DVD decoding with minimum CPU usage
  • HDTV ready

DVI and TV/Video output support

  • RADEON™ 8500 uses RAGE THEATER™ companion chip for high quality video output
  • Features 165MHz integrated TMDS transmitter to support DVI up to UXGA (1600x1200) resolution
  • Get all of the incredible 3D and DVD of RADEON™ 8500 with the benefit of flat panels - crisper images, significantly reduced eyestrain and space savings
  • Use video-out to connect your PC to TV or VCR

ATI has been known for making their cards feature-packed, even on their lower end flavors...The Radeon 8500 is no exception as it includes DVI support, multi-monitor support, as well as the various technologies (such as TRUFORM, Hyper Z II, Smoothvision, Smartshaders, etc) that the Radeon provides. ATI also includes some software bundles in their package, but more about that later on in the review. I have decided not to cover the various technologies that I just mentioned, but if you would be interested in us writing an in-depth article on them post a message in the discussion for this review and let us know. Depending on how many of you would be interested in that, we will consider doing so.

As I have said with previous video card reviews, I really like the fact that DVI and multi-monitor support is included, and while ATI had adopted it earlier on then NVIDIA, the GeForce4 series now brings multi-monitor support as well.

The Card

The Radeon 8500 is clocked at 275/275 (core/memory). The memory is 3.6ns made by hynix.

Note: I used the images provided to the press by ATI because of their high quality. You will notice that these cards have ESMT 4ns memory yet my card has Hynix 3.6ns memory. I contacted ATI to find out what the card actually ships with, and they confirmed that it does in fact come up the Hynix 3.6ns memory. I have added a shot of my actual card below the press shots just clarification.

Test Setup

  Hardware
Processor Intel Pentium 4 2GHz Socket 478
Motherboard Intel D850MD
Memory 256MB PC800 Samsung RDRAM
Hard Drive IBM Deskstar 30GB 75GXP 7200RPM ATA100
Video Card(s) Visiontek GeForce4 Ti4600
Visiontek GeForce4 Ti4400
Visiontek GeForce4 MX440
Visiontek Xstasy 6964 GeForce3 Ti500
Visiontek Xstasy 6564 GeForce3 Ti200
Visiontek GeForce3
ATI Radeon 8500 64MB
ATI Radeon 7500
Elsa Gladiac GeForce2 Ultra 64MB
Visiontek Xstasy 5864 GeForce2 Ti
Leadtek Winfast GeForce2 GTS
Visiontek GeForce2 MX400 64MB
CD-ROM Sony CDU-5211 52X
Ethernet On-Board
  Software
Operating System Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Video Drivers NVIDIA Detonator XP v24.72
ATI 6.13.10.6043
  Benchmarking Applications
Applications Quake III Arena - Demo 4
3DMark 2001 SE
WinXP Bench
Evolva

3DMark MadOnion 2001 SE

It is said the ATI Radeon 8500's main competitor Is the GeForce3 Ti500 so that's what we will be looking at the closest in terms of competition. It is also interesting to take a look at the numbers compared to some of the GeForce4 cards. So lets begin with 3DMark 2001 SE. We see here that the Radeon 8500 outperforms the Ti500 by almost 10% even at a 1600x1200 resolution. That's quite impressive, and as the Radeon 7500, the 8500 impressed and surprised me. The Radeon 8500 does run about 10% slower then the GF4 Ti4400 and close to 20% slower then the GF4 Ti4600. Another thing to take note is that it performs about 42% better then the Radeon 7500 which is about $100 less. Note that those comparisons were all at 1600x1200 because it better shows the differences between the performance of the cards.

Quake3 Arena

With Quake3 Arena set at the Fastest setting we se see that 1024x768 there isn't much difference between all of the cards, yet the Radeon 8500 surpassed all the cards in terms of speed, even the GF4 Ti4600. Even with a higher resolution the Radeon 8500 really stays up there with the pack performing less then 4% below the Ti4600 and less then 2% behind the Ti4400, a difference you most likely would not notice.

We crank up the settings a notch and move to normal, again, the Radeon 8500 surpasses all of the cards at a 1024x768 resolution. At 1600x1200 we start to see another story as the 8500 falls back, even behind the Ti500. It performs a little less then 6% below the Ti500, 15.5% behind the Ti4400, and about 20% behind the Ti4600, a big drop from the fastest settings. Lets see how things turn out when we crank up the settings to high quality.

This time around the Radeon 8500 is not the top card, but only half a frame away from being the top. When we changed the settings from fastest to normal we saw quite a drop back in performance, does the same thing happen here? Yup, it does, but not quite as much. The card runs a little more then 8% slower then the Ti500, about 20% slower then the Ti4400, and about 25% slower then the Ti4600. It is important to keep in mind that both the Ti4400 and the Ti4600 are 128MB video cards, while the Radeon is only 64MB. The GeForce3 Ti500 is also 64MB so as I said before, that is more of its competition.

WinXP Bench

XPBench is specifically designed to query which Windows XP feautures your video card/driver combination supports, and then demonstrate the performance improvements and level of support for the features of the Windows XP GUI. As we originally stated in our Ti4600 review, ATI definitely needs some work on their Windows XP drivers to better support the GUI features. Even when we re-benchmarked with ATI's newest drivers, we still got the same scores on WinXP Bench.

Evolva

After re-testing with ATI's newer drivers, our results in both benchmarked when up a little bit, almost 4FPS in the Evolva Bumpmapped test. Without bumpmapping, the Radeon outperforms the Ti500 by a bit over 3%, but when you turn bumpmapping on it outperforms the card by over 10%. That's quite a nice boost for a card that we found on SLPrices for about $25 cheaper with dual-monitor support.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Great performance for price
  • Dual-monitor support
  • DVI support
  • Great DVD quality
  • Overall good buy

Cons

  • Could use work on WindowsXP drivers
  • Has 64MB, while closely priced GeForce4 Ti4200 has 128MB

Conclusion

Overall I was very impressed with the ATI Radeon 8500. ATI continues to support all kinds of features on their cards, high or low-budget. I was surprised that the card had outperformed the GeForce3 Ti500 as I did not expect that to be the case. Although the Radeon 8500 was released much earlier, another consideration to look at is the GeForce4 Ti4200 which has 128MB of memory and is priced similarly. Unfortunately we did not have the Ti4200 in our labs at the time of writing so we could not post the numbers for the card. If the price came down on the Radeon 8500 to about $150 or less I would definitely pick this card if you are looking for an overall great performer with great features and great quality without spending an arm and a leg.

As always your feedback is welcome.

SLRating: 8.5/10