The first of these new features is the Charisma engine. This engine provides hardware assisted Transform, Clipping and Lighting (TCL) functions, which free up system CPU resources and in turn help render 3D scenes with more detail and more realism than ever before. A four-matrix vertex skinning feature is also implemented in this engine, and its aim is to produce more lifelike movement of objects such as humans and animals. Applications need to be written to utilise this feature, but in essence it means that games like sports simulations can showcase character movements that are not disjointed and out of place.
In terms of performance, the 64MB card we tested is up to par with the latest offerings from NVIDIA and will play all your games with ease - especially at higher resolutions and colour depths. But where this card really excels is in picture quality and video playback features. In 3DMark 2000, scenes were brilliantly rendered by this card, as it produced rich colouring and almost perfectly smooth edging. For video, the card ships with an S-Video port, composite in and composite out ports, and the driver software allows for output to be displayed on a regular TV screen.
ATI boasts that this is also the first graphics card to feature an on-chip hardware decoder for high definition digital TV, and for DVD buffs, hardware MPEG-2 decoding is also present. The driver software itself is simple to set up using ATI's easy install wizard, and the Express route will give you a DVD player and other multimedia applications as well as a very comprehensive driver program.
The Radeon's video and TV features are second to none. Its five-year warranty is also very generous. For $749, this card will provide you with a great high-end graphic platform for today's games as well as tomorrow's.
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