2D Image Quality
The 2D image quality provided by the Slave card appeared exactly the same as that of any RADEON X850, i.e. pretty high for comfortable work in 1800x1440x75Hz. By the way, this graphics card features only one DVI-I ports: there is a standard 15-pin D-Sub connector instead of the second DVI-I port. I couldn’t figure out what pushed ATI to equip their slave card with this particular set of connectors: all analog monitors can be easily connected to the card via the corresponding adapter.
As for RADEON X850 XT CrossFire Edition, the situation appeared far not that simple here. The DVI-I output pot connected to directly the graphics processor (and the integrated RAMDAC) demonstrated the same image quality as that of the slave card. However, once we connected the DMS-59 via the CrossFire adapter, the maximum supported resolution appeared limited to 1920x1080 with the refresh rate of only 30Hz! For 1600x1200 the maximum supported refresh rate equaled 60Hz. It looks like the limitations imposed by the architectural peculiarities of the Compositing Engine influence the single graphics card mode as well, even though there is a RAMDAC with 330MHz frequency.
It doesn’t make much sense to evaluate the 2D image quality in CrossFire mode: the maximum supported resolution is only 1600x1200 with 60Hz refresh rate. And in lower resolutions the image quality simply cannot be bad. With multi-GPU mode enabled we noticed that the test screen we see before the OS boots up looked somewhat washed-out, as if we were running interpolation mode on a TFT display. It turned out that Compositing Engine does perform interpolation transforming the test VGA mode with 720x400 resolution into 1280x1024. The refresh rate in this case equals 85Hz.