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ATI Radeon 7500
Author: David Pitlyuk
Date Posted: January 11th, 2002
URL: http://www.slcentral.com/reviews/hardware/video/ati/radeon7500

Introduction

ATI has recently taken charge, changed their target market, and given some stiff competition to NVIDIA. The most well known Radeon's are the 7500, 8500, and All-In-Wonder 8500DV. All three of those cards feature DDR memory which essentially double the memory bandwidth over SDRAM. There are less powerful Radeon's that ATI offers, the 7200 and 7000 which both feature SDRAM.

Today we will be taking a look at the 7500. We should be reviewing both the 8500 and 8500DV in the very near future so look for that in the upcoming weeks.

Let's just jump into the review and start off by taking a look at the specs and features.

Specs

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

  • Pentium® 4/Celeron™/III/II, AMD® K6/Athlon® or compatible with AGP 2X or AGP 2X/4X universal slot
  • Installation software requires CD-ROM drive
  • DVD playback requires DVD drive on PCs with an Intel® Pentium® II processor (or equivalent) and 32MB of system memory

Graphics controller

  • RADEON™ 7500 graphics processing unit (GPU)
  • Memory configuration

    • 64MB DDR

    Operating systems support

    • Windows® 98/98SE
    • Windows® Me
    • Windows® 2000
    • Windows® NT 4.0
    • Windows® XP

    Monitor support

    • CRT Monitor: 15-pin VGA connector 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 & vertical synchronization at TTL levels

    Features

    Overview

    • Featuring CHARISMA ENGINE™ for cutting-edge character animation features
    • PIXEL TAPESTRY™ supports advanced multi-texturing and new 3D effects with eye-popping photo-realistic impact and smooth frame rates
    • Dual independent display support
    • DVI-ready for the digital flat panel revolution
    • Supports up to 230MHz DDR memory
    • HYPER Z™ technology to boost effective memory bandwidth by more than 20% (8.8 GB/sec)

    CHARISMA ENGINE™

    • Features CHARISMA ENGINE™, a geometry processing unit
    • First to incorporate acceleration for advanced character animation features
    • Includes 4-matrix skinning and keyframe interpolation
    • Enables game characters to display life-like facial expressions and to achieve fluid movement and motion

    PIXEL TAPESTRY™ architecture

    • Fast 32-bit color rendering engine
    • Supports three-way multi-texturing and 3D effects without compromising speed
    • Process up to 3 textures per pixel in a single clock cycle, bringing 3D worlds to life with incredible detail and realism
    • Deal easily with complex elements such as metals, liquids and wood and their interactions with lights and shadows

    Flexible, high performance memory support

    • Incorporates support for double data rate SDRAM/SGRAM at up to 230MHz
    • Features HYPER Z™ technology to boost effective memory bandwidth by over 20% (8.8 GB/sec)

    Dual monitor support

    • Leading-edge technology supports multiple combinations of traditional CRT monitors, flat panel displays and TV
    • Dual DAC (digital-to-analog converter) at 350MHz for cost-effective dual independent display support at maximum resolutions
    • Integrated TMDS transmitter with ratiometric expander for digital flat panel monitor resolutions of up to 1600x1200

    VIDEO IMMERSION™

    • Industry-leading digital video features, including advanced de-interlacing algorithms for unprecedented video quality
    • Adaptive de-interlacing optimally selects between the bob or weave technique on a per pixel basis, eliminating twitter and feathering artifacts, resulting in high quality de-interlacing of both still and motion video

    Warranty

    • 3-year limited warranty

    You can see from the specs that this card is full-featured with things like a DVI connector, multiple monitor support, and 64MB of DDR memory. The Radeon 7500 also retails for $199.99 but you can find it online for somewhere in the low $100's.

    One of the best parts that I liked was the support for multiple monitors and a DVI connector. The DVI connector is something you usually see on higher end cards. I personally am all for the move to LCD's and a digital connection over analog so I was very happy to see this a not-so-expensive card.

    Also the dual monitor works VERY well and has very powerful software support. I'll go over more about this in the software section of the review.

    Here's 2 shots of dual monitor capabilities in action:


    The monitors are mirrored


    The monitors are extended showing one LONG excel worksheet

    In the features list you saw something called video immersion. As it states there, it's a technology that allows for adaptive de-interlacing for best quality motion video and text. Because of this, the DVD quality is superb and very impressive.

    The Card


    A box diagram of how the card is setup


    The card itself


    4ns ESMT memory


    The Radeon 7500 chip


    The output connector, left to right, VGA, DVI, S-Video

    The Test

      Hardware
    Processor(s) Intel Pentium 4 2GHz Northwood
    Intel Pentium 4 2GHz Socket-478
    Motherboard(s) Intel D850MD
    Memory 256MB Mushkin RDRAM
    Hard Drive IBM Deskstar 30GB 75GXP 7200RPM ATA100
    Video Card(s) Visiontek GeForce3 Ti500
    Visiontek GeForce3
    Visiontek GeForce3 Ti200
    Visiontek GeForce2 Ti
    Visiontek GeForce2 MX400
    Leadtek GeForce2 GTS
    ATI Radeon 7500
      Software
    Operating System(s) Microsoft Windows XP Professional
    Benchmark Applications 3DMark 2001
    Quake3 Arena
    Evolva

    3DMark 2001

    We see here that the Radeon does perform better then its main GeForce competitor, the GeForce2 Ti (or pretty much the same thing as a GeForce2 Pro). While it's not by that much, you will see how that changes at higher resolutions. At this point, it's outperforming the Ti by about 2%, but at the next level up, the Geforce3 Ti200 which is at the same price level of the Radeon 7500, is taking full charge by performing the Radeon by a whopping 32%. The Radeon is performing about 11% better then the regular GeForce2.

    We see the same deal, but we start to see the gap with the Radeon and the Ti widening, while the gap with the Radeon and 7500 are coming closer together. The Radeon is now performing 8% better then the Ti, 28% worse then the Ti200, and 24% better then the normal GeForce2. This is where are starting to see Hyper-Z technology kick in allowing up to a 20% better bandwidth. Let's see how it does at 1600x1200.

    Ok here, the GeForce2 wouldn't even run but the Radeon outperforms the Ti by 23%. The Ti200 loses a little bit more of the percentage gaing by outperforming the Radeon about 24%.

    Overall, the Radeon did pretty good on 3DMark 2001 tests outperforming it's main competitor by a good amount, although the $199 Ti200 is kicking Radeon's butt and retails at the same price, so that's definitely something to take into consideration.

    Quake3 Arena - Fastest

    Now for OpenGL testing, we see that the Radeon doesn't perform close to any of the video cards here. Although at 195 FPS there are really no issues, it shows you that the Radeon's peak bandwidth isn't quite as high as the other video cards with NVIDIA chips.

    Same deal here, although we see that the GeForce2 MX400 has come down in performance a lot, and now the Radeon is running faster.

    This time around, the GeForce2 starts to come down a lot as well, while the Ti200 is outperforming the Radeon by about 18%. An interesting turnaround compared to the 3DMark 2001 benchmarks which test more Direct3D performance rather than OpenGL.

    Quake3 Arena - Normal

    Ok, now we start to turn on some of the graphic features which bog down performance. We see from the get go that the GeForce2 MX400 is running slower compared to everything else, but the Radeon still isn't even close to touching anything else.

    Now at a higher resolution things start to normalize. The Radeon is now running faster then the GeForce2 by 14% and only 4% slower then the Ti. The Ti200 is out there running over 30% faster then the Radeon.

    Now at the highest resolution we tested the Radeon takes over the Ti by a little under 6%. The Ti200 is now outperforming the Radeon by 33.5%. Interesting how the tables have turned compared to the test set at fastest. Let's set it to high quality and see how it runs.

    Quake3 Arena - High Quality

    This test pretty much shows the same thing that we've seen on the other 640x480 tests.

    Very similar to the normal test, huh?

    Again the same thing, although the Ti is running a bit closer to the Radeon.

    Evolva

    Here we see something very interesting, the Radeon outperforms the GeForce3 Ti200 by 1.5% and the Ti by a huge 23%! The Radeon has shown different results on each tests, but it also shows the cards the strong points and weak points.

    Software

    This is normal settings tab for display properties. Notice how you have the option of choosing your display and making one of them your primary monitor.

    Here you can see all the tabs that the advanced settings offer.

    In the displays tab you can change the properties for any displays that are connected to the video card at one time. At this point I only had one monitor connected.

    Here is a very cool application called HydraVision. This is the application I mentioned before which was pretty powerful for managing dual monitors.

    Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Dual monitor support
    • DVI support
    • Great Direct3D performance
    • Good application support for multi-displays
    • Outperformed the GeForce3 Ti200 in Evolva benchmarks
    • Good DVD quality

    Cons

    • Not that great OpenGL performance
    • The GeForce3 Ti200 is the same price

    Conclusion

    To be honest I was very surprised with this card's performance. It definitely gave us some interesting numbers in various tests, but overall it performed very well. Here's the main idea I have about this card. The NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti200 is the same price as the Radeon 7500 and definitely outperforms it (except for Evolva) but the Radeon offers some great features that the Ti200 doesn't provide. It can be easily said that the Radeon 7500 beats out the GeForce2 Ti, yet the price difference is $50. So really what we're talking about here is if $50 is worth the extra features the 7500 offers. For me personally, after testing the ATI Radeon 7500, it's a hands down buy over the GeForce2 Ti, and if it retailed for $25 less, I would even buy it over the Ti200. Like I mentioned before, we found it online for UNDER $110, so in that case the 7500 is a definite buy. Overall...very impressed.

    SLRating: 9/10

    Re-Printed From SLCentral