Announcing its new RADEON X700 graphics processor back on September 21, 2004, ATI Technologies unveiled two X700-based graphics cards, RADEON X700 XT and RADEON X700 PRO. The company put the same recommended price on these two devices ($199) that only differed in their clock rates and the amount of graphics memory on board. The RADEON X700 XT is clocked at 475/1050MHz (core/memory) but has only 128 megabytes of memory, whereas the PRO model comes with twice as much memory but works at 420/864MHz frequencies.
At the product launch moment we thought the elder, XT model a better buy since its performance was higher on the whole. But as the gaming industry outputs ever more games that feel more comfortable on 256MB of graphics RAM, there is a growing interest towards the RADEON X700 PRO, especially among people who’re into overclocking.
No so long ago we used to regard 256MB of graphics memory as something rather useless which only made the end product more expensive, but now there are already a few games and benchmarks which offer some of their graphics modes exclusively to owners of such graphics hardware – take Doom 3 or 3DMark05 as an example. Rome: Total War also doesn’t allow the user to select a resolution of 1600x1200 pixels on less than 256MB.
All in all we have to admit that this amount of graphics memory has become more important, having transformed from a piece of luxury into a necessity. Keep it in mind, though, that we’re only talking about mainstream and high-end graphics cards as low-end devices just can’t run modern games in high resolutions or with full-screen anti-aliasing enabled at a comfortable frame rate.
For our today’s tests we took a mainstream product from the new PCI Express generation. It is an X700 PRO-based card from PowerColor.