PowerColor X1300 Video Card Review

Admin - 2006-12-30 14:54:46 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: July 11, 2006
Powercolor
Powercolor
Price: $99 USD
Introduction
When looking for a new video card, there are a few things to take into consideration, budget and performance. And According to the specs, this card appears to be a combination of both. Powercolor being a well reputed video card company was kind enough to send over one of their X1300 128MB HM2 video cards for review. Powercolor has been a major manufacturer of video cards since their debut in 1999, bursting onto the market and securing a foothold in the industry. We will soon be seeing whether or not this x1300 HM2 will be able to hold its own against other entry level cards.

Closer Look
When receiving video cards I am always somewhat stunned by the artwork that is printed on the boxes, and Powercolor does not disappoint with this x1300. The box was literally screaming “look at me, look at me”. I noticed that there was a sticker I was not familiar with on the front of the package. That being the Hyper Memory 2 sticker, which upon further investigation proved to be a way for this card to ‘expand’ the amount of memory that it could use. Stock it is 64 Bit, 128Meg, but depending upon the amount of installed system memory, it will ‘expand’ by using some of your system memory to bring it up to a maximum of 512mb. Other than that small discrepancy from normal, the box was just that, a box.

 

Opening the box there was the card, drivers CD, instruction manual, as well a S-Video cable. Taking the card out of the Anti-Static bag I immediately noticed how small it was. I had not noticed before this point that it was a low profile card.

Checking out what kind of connection type this card uses, I saw that instead of dual DVI, it came equipped with a single DVI, as well as a VGA (D-Sub), as a lot of entry level cards are now opting for. One thing that I was surprised about seeing is how small the actual cooling was on this card. It came with a very small fan that reminded me of my 9600 Pro. Now that we have seen pretty much everything on the card, let’s plug it in and see how it performs.

 

Installation
Installing this card couldn’t really get any easier. It was a simple matter of shutting down my machine, opening up the side panel to remove my current video card, and then popping the x1300 into the now vacant PCI-E slot. Secure it with a screw and then proceed to put the case back together.



As always, after installing a new video card you are required to install the necessary drivers for said card. After removing my old Nvidia drivers, I installed the new ones for the x1300 which where supplied on the CD.


After getting those all installed and rebooting my machine, I checked on the Powercolor website for a driver update, and upon finding one installed that as well. As It is always a good idea to have the latest drivers possible. Now of course I know you're itching to know how this card performs so let’s get to the good stuff!

Specifications

Part Number X1300 128MB HM
2nd Part Number 47108109 37217 (13 128/HM512MD)
Memory & Bus Width 128 MB DDR2 / 64 bit
Core Speed 450 Mhz
Memory Speed 400 Mhz x 2
Output DVI/TV Out/CRT/HDTV
Interface PCIE x16
Pixel Pipelines 4
Direct X Support 9.0
TV Connector S-Video

Features

* 105 million transistors on 90nm fabrication process
* Four pixel shader processors
* Two vertex shader processors
* 128-bit 4-channel DDR/DDR2/GDDR3 memory interface
* 32-bit/1-channel, 64-bit/2-channel, and 128-bit/4-channel configurations
* Native PCI Express x16 bus interface
* AGP 8x configurations also supported with external bridge chip
* Dynamic Voltage Control

High Performance Memory Controller

* Fully associative texture, color, and Z/stencil cache designs
* Hierarchical Z-buffer with Early Z test
* Lossless Z Compression (up to 48:1)
* Fast Z-Buffer Clear
* Z/stencil xache optimized for real-time shadow rendering

Ultra-Threaded Shader Engine

* Support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 programmable vertex and pixel shaders in hardware
* Full speed 128-bit floating point processing for all shader operations
* Up to 128 simultaneous pixel threads * Dedicated branch execution units for high performance dynamic branching and flow control
* Dedicated texture address units for improved efficiency
* 3Dc+ texture compression
* High quality 4:1 compression for normal maps and two-channel data formats
* High quality 2:1 compression for luminance maps and single-channel data formats
* Multiple Render Target (MRT) support
* Render to vertex buffer support
* Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL® 2.0

Advanced Image Quality Features

* 64-bit floating point HDR rendering supported throughout the pipeline
* Includes support for blending and multi-sample anti-aliasing
* 32-bit integer HDR (10:10:10:2) format supported throughout the pipeline
* Includes support for blending and multi-sample anti-aliasing
* 2x/4x/6x Anti-Aliasing modes
* Multi-sample algorithm with gamma correction, programmable sparse sample patterns, and centroid sampling
* New Adaptive Anti-Aliasing feature with Performance and Quality modes
* Temporal Anti-Aliasing mode
* Lossless Color Compression (up to 6:1) at all resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions
* 2x/4x/8x/16x Anisotropic Filtering modes
* Up to 128-tap texture filtering
* Adaptive algorithm with Performance and Quality options
* High resolution texture support (up to 4k x 4k)

Avivo™ Video and Display Platform

* High performance programmable video processor
* Accelerated MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264 decoding and transcoding
* DXVA support
* De-blocking and noise reduction filtering
* Motion compensation, IDCT, DCT and color space conversion
* Vector adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing
* 3:2 pulldown (frame rate conversion)
* Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time
* HDR tone mapping acceleration
* Maps any input format to 10 bit per channel output
* Flexible display support
* Dual integrated DVI transmitters (one dual-link + one single-link)
+ DVI 1.0 compliant / HDMI interoperable and HDCP ready
* Dual integrated 10 bit per channel 400 MHz DACs
* 16 bit per channel floating point HDR and 10 bit per channel DVI outpu
t * Programmable piecewise linear gamma correction, color correction, and color space conversion (10 bits per color)
* Complete, independent color controls and video overlays for each display
* High quality pre- and post-scaling engines, with underscan support for all outputs
* Content-adaptive de-flicker filtering for interlaced displays
* Xilleon™ TV encoder for high quality analog output
* YPrPb component output for direct drive of HDTV displays*
* Spatial/temporal dithering enables 10-bit color quality on 8-bit and 6-bit displays
* Fast, glitch-free mode switching
* VGA mode support on all outputs
* Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions and refresh rates
* Compatible with ATI TV/Video encoder products, including Theater 550

CrossFire™

* Multi-GPU technology
* Inter-GPU communication over PCI Express (no interlink hardware required)
* Four modes of operation:
* Alternate Frame Rendering (maximum performance)
* Supertiling (optimal load-balancing)
* Scissor (compatibility)
* Super AA 8x/10x/12x/14x (maximum image quality)

HyperMemory™ 2

* 2nd generation virtual memory management technology
* Improved PCI Express transfer efficiency
* Supports rendering to system memory as well as local graphics memory
Testing
Here at OCC we use a slightly different method of testing our cards when compared to some other review sites. We will be using a combination of Fraps, ATI Tool, Riva tuner, as well as various games to provide you with the most accurate results possible. When this card was overclocked, we took it to the maximum stable OC that we could find (without artifacting). So without further ado here are the results!

Testing Setup

Gaming Benchmarks

Heading up or benchmarking session is Farcry, which like all the other games we will be running at the three most commonly used resolutions, 800x600, 1024x768,and 1280x1024.

Far Cry

Settings:

FARCRY BENCHMARKS

The x1300 would not run on highest settings, so we dropped down to normal for the Farcry benchmark, and as you can see it scored pretty poorly, and even poorer at the higher resolutions.

Benchmark: F.E.A.R


The x1300 would not run on highest settings, so we dropped down to normal for the Farcry benchmark, and as you can see it scored pretty poorly, and even poorer at the higher resolutions.

Again pretty abysmal scores in games that are using the newer engines with complex shadows. Benchmark: Doom 3





Surprisingly, this card scored fairly well against other mainstream cards in Doom 3. Although Doom 3 is a slightly aging game, we still feel that it is a valid benchmark. And As you can see, the x1300 was holding its own.
 
Benchmark: C.O.D 2




Again we can see that this card is lagging behind the other mainstream cards with the newer games.
Benchmark: Quake 4


Settings:


Nothing special when set to high, and even at lower resolutions the lack of frames is quite appalling.
Benchmark: N.F.S Most Wanted


Settings:
Everything set to 3/4 or high



Scoring nearly identical frame rates as it did in Quake 4, we can now clearly see that this card is not a major contender against the more mainstream cards.

Conclusion
As we have just seen throughout the course of our benchmarks, this is not a ‘performance’ video card. Lacking the overall muscle to obtain even a playable framerate in newer games, this leaves the x1300 at the bottom of the dog pile. For the average non-gamer person who is looking for something cheap that will serve them as a "basic desktop use" card, then this is the card of choice. But if you are a dedicated gamer like us here at OCC, then this is definitely not the card for you as it is more of an entry level card. Also, the use of HyperMemory is a unique addition, although the card being only 64 bit left us with a feeling of ‘too little to late’. Whether or not Powercolor will employ this HM2 memory type on their higher end cards is yet to be seen, but would be an interesting addition.

Pros

  • Low profile
  • Relatively quiet
  • Price
  • Perfect for normal users
Cons
  • Uses System Memory
  • Underpowered
  • Runs hot