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Performance: Value Graphics Cards

The Value graphics cards seem to be the most numerous group in our today’s test session: there are 8 participants here, while the previous two groups had only 6 each. Here you can see such time-tested veterans as Radeon X700 PRO and GeForce 6600 GT alongside with the relatively new Radeon X1300 PRO and GeForce 6600 GDDR2 and the brand new S3 Chrome S27 256MB. The latter demonstrates surprisingly good result running neck and neck with Radeon X1300 PRO, even though it doesn’t support SM3.0. Only GeForce 6600 GT shows higher results than the others. Although it only uses 128bit memory bus, due to SM3.0/HDR support it manages to outperform Radeon X800 GT in the overall score chart, as the latter can only pass two graphics tests out of four. As in the previous cases, we cannot draw any conclusions basing on the total scores only, so let’s take a closer look at each given test individually.

As we have expected, S3 Chrome S27 256MB wins in SM2.0 graphics tests, because at this time it is the world’s only budget GPU working at 700MHz frequency. According to our results, it boasts pretty high fillrate and copes quite well even with complex pixel shaders 2.0 (for details see our S3 Chrome S27 Graphics Processor Review: Worthy Performance for Its Class? ). The next fastest in this bunch is Radeon X800 GT, which also feels quite at home in those benchmarks that do not use SM3.0, but GeForce 6600 GT is not that much slower either. Radeon X700 PRO/X700 have some caching issues and besides, they work at relatively low frequencies, so their results are pretty modest, I should say. However, the same is true for GeForce 6600, which suffers from relatively slow memory working at only 250 (500) MHz.

Ati’s orientation at the maximum performance with SM3.0 reveals itself positively in the value graphics cards segment. Although the technical specifications of the Radeon X1300 PRO are considerably more modest than those of the GeForce 6600 GT, the results of these two cards are almost identical: the difference makes only 14 points. It is an excellent result for a graphics card with only 4 pixel and 2 vertex processors. Now let’s take a look at the results of each graphics test separately.

S3 Chrome S27 256MB carries 4 vertex processors onboard that work at 700MHz. As a result it can compete on equal terms with such powerful rivals as Radeon X800 GT and GeForce 6600 GT. This is very impressive especially keeping in mind that all previous attempts of S3 Graphics to design a competitive solution ended in vain. Of course, they had to pay for their success: the new S3 solution features expensive GDDR3 memory with 1.4ns access time. Among other testing participants we can single out GeForce 6600 GDDR2 – a successful modification of GeForce 6600 that acquired fast memory and higher GPU frequency. Since the value graphics cards performance in 3DMark06 lies between 2 and 8fps even in pure mode, we decided it wouldn’t make any sense to run benchmarks in eye candy test mode at all.

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