First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
- — 30 June, 2005 09:23
- 2D or 3D: that is the question
- PCIe or AGP
- Graphics card models
- ATI cards
- ATI variations
- Nvidia cards
- Nvidia variations
- What the specs mean
- Other features
- Other components
- Power usage
- Integrated graphics
As with Nvidia, each ATI chip comes in multiple flavours. You have, for example, the Radeon 9800, Radeon 9800 Pro, Radeon 9800 SE and Radeon 9800 XT. For the most part, these model numbers indicate variations in the clock speed of the chip and of the memory on the card.
Here's a quick rundown of the variations ATI uses:
SE - a cheaper card that has half the memory bandwidth of the base card. A X300 SE, for instance, has a 64-bit wide connection to the graphics card memory. A normal X300 has 128-bits.
Pro - indicates that the card is faster in some respect than the base card. It can mean the card has a faster processor, faster memory, or more pixel pipelines to increase the rendering rate.
VIVO - indicates that the card has support for composite or S-Video inputs and outputs. A VIVO card will have TV-out and TV capture, so you can plug a video recorder into it and digitise the video. It does not necessarily mean it has a TV tuner, however.
XT - the next step up from the "Pro" cards. It indicates that the card runs at a higher clock speed again than the Pro and Basic cards.
XT PE - a step up in performance yet again from the XT cards.
So, the order of performance within a given model, from slowest to fastest, is the SE, the basic card, the Pro, the XT and the XT PE.