[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory is an entry-level graphics chip from ATI for the PCI Express bus, competing directly with GeForce 6200 TurboCache from NVIDIA, even though a new model has just enterered the market, Radeon X1300 series, which should heat the battle in the entry-level VGA arena. In this review we will compare the performance of Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory with 128 MB (“256 MB”) from PowerColor with the standard Radeon X300 (not “SE” and not “HyperMemory”) and GeForce 6200 models, and also with some mid-range chips (GeForce 6600 and GeForce 6600 GT).

PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemoryFigure 1: PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB.

HyperMemory (“HM”) is a technology that simulates a 256 MB video card by using part of the system’s RAM memory as video memory: 256 MB HyperMemory video cards have 128 MB of video memory and “steal” 128 MB from the main system RAM. TurboCache technology from NVIDIA uses the same idea. Read our tutorial on HyperMemory for more information on this subject.

The good thing for the consumer is that ATI does not allow partners to use different memory configurations. On NVIDIA side, you can find GeForce 6200 TurboCache with different memory capacities and memory interface width, causing a great deal of confusion on consumers, especially when we are talking about a very entry-level video card that is not targeted to techie folks that know what clock and number of bits are.

On ATI side, all cards marked as “SE” use a 64-bit memory interface, so compared to the standard Radeon X300, Radeon X300 SE achieve half the memory bandwidth, since they run at the same clock rate: both run at 325 MHz and access memory at 400 MHz.

We run PowerStrip software to check the clocks used by the reviewed card, and the model we reviewed was really running at these clock rates.

You can see in our tutorial “ATI Chips Comparison Table” the difference between Radeon 300 SE HyperMemory chip and the other chips from ATI, while on our tutorial “NVIDIA Chips Comparison Table” you can compare it to its competitors from NVIDIA.

Let’s now take a closer look at the Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory from PowerColor.

[nextpage title=”The Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory Video Card from PowerColor”]

On Figures 2 and 3 you can check Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory from PowerColor. As you can see, this video card uses a active heatsink (i.e., with a fan).

PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemoryFigure 2: PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory.

PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemoryFigure 3: PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory, back view.

This video card uses four DDR 256-Mbit 5 ns chips from Mosel Vitelic (MVC) (V58C2256164SBT5)to give it 128 MB of video memory (256 Mbits x 4 = 128 MB). These chips can run up to 400 MHz. Since this video card accesses the memory at 400 MHz there is no room for memory overclocking inside the memory’s specifications. But of course you can try overclock it over its specs.

PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemoryFigure 4: 5 ns DDR memory chip used by PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory video card.

The board comes with some cables (one RCA for composit video, one S-Video and one S-Video/composite video converter) and an I/O bracket for installing this video card inside a low profile chassis. If you pay close attention in Figure 2, its VGA plug is detachable, so it is easy to remove it in order to reduce the size of the card back panel.

PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemoryFigure 5: Cables and I/O bracket that come with the reviewed board.

This board also comes with CyberLink DVD Solution, which is a suite full of DVD-related software, like PowerDirector, PowerDVD and PowerProducer.

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

  • Graphics chip: Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory running at 325 MHz.
  • Memory: 5 ns 64-bit 128 MB DDR memory from Mosel Vitelic (MVC) (V58C2256164SBT5), running at 400 MHz.
  • Bus type: PCI Express 16x.
  • Connectors: One VGA, one DVI and one mini-DIN for S-Video output.
  • Number of CDs that come with this board: Two.
  • Games that come with this board: None
  • Programs that come with this board: CyberLink DVD Solution (PowerDirector SE+, MediaShow SE, PowerDVD, PowerProducer DVD and Power2Go).
  • More Information: https://www.powercolor.com
  • Price*: USD 54.00

* Researched on Shopping.com on the day we published this review.[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]

During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions the only variable was the video card being tested.

Hardware Configuration

  • Motherboard: Intel D915GEV
  • CPU: Pentium 4 3.4 GHz LGA 775
  • Memory: Two 512 MB DDR2-533 CM2X512-4200 CL4 from Corsair memory modules
  • Hard Drive: Maxtor DiamondMax 9 Plus (40 GB, ATA-133)
  • Screen resolution: 1024x768x32@85 Hz

Software Configuration

  • Windows XP Professional installed using NTFS
  • Service Pack 2
  • Direct X 9.0c
  • Intel inf driver version: 7.2.2.1006
  • ATI video driver version: 5.11
  • NVIDIA video driver version: 81.95
  • Intel video driver version: 14.17
  • XGI video driver version: 3.01.130.D (6.14.1.3010)

Used Software

We adopted a 3% error margin; thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.

[nextpage title=”3DMark2001 SE”]

3DMark2001 SE measures video card performance simulating DirectX 8.1 games. It is very effective software for evaluating the performance from previous-generation games, programmed using DirectX 8. In this software we ran two tests, both at 1024x768x32. Since we were evaluating low-end video cards, we decided to not run our tests in higher resolutions, since rarely a user that buys a video card from this level will push resolutions above 1024×768 in 3D games.

We ran this software first without antialising and with no frame buffer, and then we put the antialising at 4 samples and the frame buffer at triple-buffering. This improves the video quality but lowers the performance. We were willing to see how much performance we lost by putting the VGA to run at the maximum possible image quality. It is important to note that ATI chips can run at 6x antialising. Since NVIDIA chips cannot run at this configuration, we had to use 4x antialising to use a configuration that is valid to all video cards included in our benchmark, allowing direct comparison between them. Also, some very low-end video chips (Volari 8300 and Intel i915G) don’t have antialising feature, so we were not able to benchmark them using this configuration.

You may be asking yourself why we added an old program in a review of a latest generation video card. To us, it is as important to know the performance of a video card with the latest games as it is to know its performance in an older game. That’s why we kept this software in our methodology.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

At the default 3DMark2001 SE configuration, PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit achived similar performance to Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), and it was 4.32% faster than GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek), 22.81% faster than i915G (Intel D915GEV) and 32.42% faster than Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI).

PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit was beaten by Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 108.87% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 80.57% faster, GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 75.33% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 68.35% faster and GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 24.33% faster.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Enabling video quality enhancements, PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit achieved similar performace to Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), and it was 55.67% faster than GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX) and 479.04% faster than GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek).

PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit was beaten by Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 191.95% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 104.35% faster, GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 86.79% faster and GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 35.71% faster.

[nextpage title=”3DMark03″]

3DMark03 measures performance by simulating games written to DirectX 9, which are contemporary games. In this software we ran two tests, both at 1024x768x32. Since we were evaluating low-end video cards, we decided to not run our tests in higher resolutions, since rarely a user that buys a video card from this level will push resolutions above 1024×768 in 3D games.

We ran this software first without antialising and with no anisotropic filtering, and then we put the antialising at 4 samples and anisotropic filtering at 4 samples. This improves the video quality but lowers the performance. We were willing to see how much performance we lost by putting the VGA to run at the maximum possible image quality. It is important to note that ATI chips can run at 6x antialising. Since NVIDIA chips cannot run at this configuration, we had to use 4x antialising to use a configuration that is valid to all video cards included in our benchmark, allowing direct comparison between them. Also, some very low-end video chips (Volari 8300 and Intel i915G) don’t have antialising feature, so we were not able to benchmark them using this configuration.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

At the default 3DMark03 configuration, PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit achieved similar performace to Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), and it was 28.48% faster than i915G (Intel D915GEV).

PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit was beaten by GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 347.47% faster, Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 212.32% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 175.77% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 112.27% faster, GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 36.03% faster, Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI), which was 19.95% faster and GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek), which was 10.26% faster.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Enabling video quality enhancements, PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit achieved similar performance to Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI) and GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), and it was 75.57% faster than GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 64-bit (Leadtek).

PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit was beaten by GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 449.76% faster, Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 285.50% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 204.83% faster and GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 111.79% faster.

[nextpage title=”3DMark05″]

3DMark05 measures performance by simulating DirectX 9.0c games, i.e., using the new Shader 3.0 model. This programming model is used by Far Cry game and other games to be launched in the future. This new programming model is used by GeForce 6 and 7 series from NVIDIA and Radeon X1000 series from ATI.

In this software we ran two tests, both at 1024x768x32. Since we were evaluating low-end video cards, we decided to not run our tests in higher resolutions, since rarely a user that buys a video card from this level will push resolutions above 1024×768 in 3D games.

We ran this software first without antialising and with no anisotropic filtering, and then we put the antialising at 4 samples and anisotropic filtering at 4 samples. This improves the video quality but lowers the performance. We were willing to see how much performance we lost by putting the VGA to run at the maximum possible image quality. It is important to note that ATI chips can run at 6x antialising. Since NVIDIA chips cannot run at this configuration, we had to use 4x antialising to use a configuration that is valid to all video cards included in our benchmark, allowing direct comparison between them. Also, some very low-end video chips (Volari 8300 and Intel i915G) don’t have antialising feature, so we were not able to benchmark them using this configuration.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

At the default 3DMark05 configuration, PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit achieved similar performance to Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), and it was 9.90% faster than Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI), 13.96% faster than GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek) and 220.81% faster than i915G (Intel D915GEV).

PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit was beaten by GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 222.88% faster, Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 152.79% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 89.64% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 38.92% faster and GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 19.91% faster.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Enabling video quality enhancements, PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit achieved similar performance to Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI) and it was 33.70% faster than GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek).

PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit was beaten by GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 256.89% faster, Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 230.03% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 117.49% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 60.06% faster and GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 9.09% faster.

[nextpage title=”Doom 3″]Doom 3 is one of the heaviest games available today. As we’ve done on other programs, we ran this game at three resolutions: 1024x768x32, 1280x1024x32 and 1600x1200x32. This game allows several image quality levels and we’ve done our benchmarking on two levels, low and high. We ran demo1 four times and wrote the obtained number of frames per second. The first result we discarded at once, since it is far inferior than the other results. This happens because at the first time we run the demo the game must load all textures to video memory, fact that doesn’t happen from the second time we run the demo on. From the three results left, we consider as our official result the middle result, i.e., we discard the highest and the lowest values. Curiously almost all times the values obtained at the second round on were the same.

A very important detail that we must mention is that Doom 3 has an internal FPS lock: it is only capable of generating 60 frames per second, even if your board is able to produce more frames per second than that. This is done in order to make the game to have the same “playability” sensation independently from the video card installed on the PC. This lock, however, is disabled in the game benchmarking mode.

For further details on how to measure 3D performance with Doom 3, read our tutorial on this subject.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Running this game in its low video quality mode, PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit achieved similar perfomance to Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI) and it was 55.56% faster than Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI).

PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit was beaten by GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 424.29% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 299.29% faster, Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 222.86% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 208.57% faster, GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 42.14% faster and GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek), which was 5.71% faster.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Enabling video quality enhancements, PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit achieved similar performance to Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI) and it was 76.32% faster than Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI).

PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit was beaten by GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 436.57% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 291.04% faster, Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 214.18% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 201.49% faster, GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 38.06% faster and GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek), which was 5.22% faster.

[nextpage title=”Far Cry”]

Far Cry is a game based on the new Shader 3.0 (DirectX 9.0c) model, which is used by GeForce 6 and 7 series from NVIDIA and Radeon X1000 series from ATI.
 
As we’ve done on other programs, we ran this game only at 1024×768. Since we were evaluating low-end video cards, we decided to not run our tests in higher resolutions, since rarely a user that buys a video card from this level will push resolutions above 1024×768 in 3D games.

This game allows several image quality levels and we’ve done our benchmarking on two levels: low and very high. To measure the performance we used the demo created by German magazine PC Games Hardware (PCGH), available at https://www.3dcenter.org/downloads/farcry-pcgh-vga.php. We ran this demo four times and made an arithmetical average with the obtained results. This average is the result presented in our graphs.

This game has a very important detail in its image quality configuration. Antialising, instead of being configured by numbers (1x. 2x. 4x or 6x), is configured as low, medium or high. The problem is that on NVIDIA chips both medium and high mean 4x, while on ATI chips medium means 2x and high means 6x, making the comparison between ATI and NVIDIA chips completely unfair. Because of that we configured antialising at 4x and anisotropic filtering at 8x manually at the video driver control panel. Some very low-end video chips (Volari 8300 and Intel i915G) don’t have antialising feature, so we were not able to benchmark them using this configuration.

For further details on how to measure 3D performance with Far Cry, read our tutorial on this subject.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Running this game in its low video quality mode, PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit achieved similar performance to Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), and it was 21.79% faster than GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek) and 48.00% faster than Volari 8300 128 MB (XGI).

PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit was beaten by Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 127.30% faster, GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 116.76% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 110.51% faster, GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 66.69% faster and GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX), which was 6.76% faster.

ATI Radeon X1300 Pro

Enabling video quality enhancements, PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit achieved similar performance to Radeon X300 128 MB 128-bit (ATI), and it was 7.34% faster than GeForce 6200 TurboCache 64 MB 64-bit (XFX) and 203.05% faster than GeForce 6200 TurboCache 16 MB 32-bit (Leadtek).

PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory 128 MB 64-bit was beaten by GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB (NVIDIA), which was 389.03% faster, Radeon X1300 Pro 256 MB 128-bit (ATI), which was 244.67% faster, GeForce 6600 128 MB (Albatron), which was 164.79% faster and GeForce 6200 128 MB 128-bit (Leadtek), which was 92.05% faster.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

Both Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory and GeForce 6200 TurboCache are clearly targeted to the very entry-level market based on the PCI Express bus. The idea of these two chips is to be the cheapest video card with better performance than on-board video.

There are some good things about Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory. First, its performance was the same of a “normal” Radeon X300, which uses a 128-bit memory interface. So, HyperMemory technology is, in fact, very efficient. The second good thing is that ATI is very conservative in letting their partners change memory interface width, memory quantity and memory clock. So everybody knows that “SE” models use 64-bit interface and that’s it. This is far better than the NVIDIA scenario, where there are a myriad of GeForce 6200 models with different memory configurations, and the regular user is not able to tell which is which.

Another good thing about Radeon X300 SE is that it was able to run Far Cry with a playable performance, if you don’t increase image quality settings, of course. But forget about Doom 3, it is unplayable under this card.

But the main problem of Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory is its performance. Only on 3DMark2001 SE increasing image quality settings Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory was faster than GeForce 6200 TurboCache (compared to the 64 MB model with 64-bit interface). On all other tests, GeForce 6200 TurboCache (64 MB model with 64-bit interface from XFX) was faster or tied with Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory from PowerColor. We could claim that Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory is a good video card if you want to play DirectX 8.1 games with high image quality settings on, but in our opinion nobody that owns a low-end video card will enable high image quality settings – usually people will prefer performance than quality when using a low-end VGA.

Since both PowerColor Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory and GeForce 6200 TurboCache with 64-bit memory interface and 64 MB and are in the same price range, we can say that GeForce 6200 TurboCache is a better buy, since it provides a better performance level.

Keep in mind that compared to a GeForce 6200 TurboCache with only 16 MB Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory is faster. But why pick a Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory if you can get a GeForce 6200 TurboCache for the same price?

In summary, if you are a user that wants to play some games, can’t stand on-board video performance and has only between USD 50 and USD 60 to spend on a video card, GeForce 6200 TurboCache with 64 MB and 64-bit interface like the one we reviewed from XFX is a better buy than Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory. But if you have USD 20 more to spend, go for the “real” GeForce 6200 with 128 MB and 128-bit interface, which provides a far better cost/benefit ratio than the reviewed card.

Keep in mind, however, that ATI has just released their new Radeon X1300, which promises to be faster than GeForce 6200 TurboCache.