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ATI Radeon 8500 Videocard Review

ATI Radeon 8500 Videocard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: In fact, the Radeon 8500 had so much potential it was dubbed a "GeForce3 killer".
 83% Rating:   
Filed under: Video Cards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: ATI Mar 26 2002   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Video Cards > ATI Radeon 8500

Technology of the Radeon 8500

The Charisma Engine II and HyperZ II is nothing other then ATi's original Charisma Engine (Hardware T&L engine) beefed up by the Radeon 8500's clock speed and HyperZ (Memory management) tweaked more for efficiency. ATi however shouldn't be faulted for not adding anything new to the Charisma Engine since Hardware T&L is dead with the emergence of Programmable T&L which the R200 also has.

Smart Shader is ATi's counter to nVidia's nFiniteFX engine found in the GeForce3 series of cards and with full support for DirectX 8.1. This gives game developers a graphics processor that can manipulate scenes the way they want and not be limited on what a graphics card can do as in Hardware T&L based cards. This should allow future games to be more vibrant, life like, and realistic then was ever possible before.

One very interesting option the Radeon 8500 has is support for Pixel Shader version 1.4. Few games support pixel shaders let alone version 1.4 and with nVidia not jumping on the bandwagon we're pretty sure that version 1.4 will never really be used to its full potential. What pixel shader version 1.4 does is allow the graphics card to apply six textures onto a pixel rather then the four a GeForce3 can do. Below is a chart explaining the difference between the Pixel shaders of DirectX 8.0 and DirectX 8.1

DirectX 8.0 Pixel Shaders

SMARTSHADER Pixel Shaders (DirectX 8.1)

Max. Texture Inputs

4

6

Max. Program Length

12 instructions (up to 4 texture sampling, 8 color blending)

22 instructions (up to 6 texture sampling, 8 texture addressing, 8 color blending)

Instruction Set

13 address operations 8 colour operations

12 address / colour operations

Texture Addressing Modes

40

Virtually unlimited

As you can see from the above chart, Pixel Shader version 1.4 supports many more pixel operations than nVidia's GeForce3 or even GeForce4 Ti. Both nVidia cards only support the older Pixel Shader 1.3.


Regular Graphics card

Radeon with ATI's Truform

One of the greatest features of the Radeon 8500 that no other card has is Truform . This visual technology allows the Radeon 8500 to render characters or objects on the screen with a smoother and rounder appearance. One of the worst complaints of gamers is that objects and people are too blocky and square to really blow away or frag with 'feeling'. ATi has moved significantly forward in the quest to solve this problem.

Anyone who has played Counter Strike with Truform will agree, the game looks a lot nicer. Games only need to be patched to use Truform, however many developers have already stated that they plan to release those patches.

SmoothVision is ATi's name for multi-sampling AA. Working on the a very similar basis as Quincunx AA, Smoothvision tends to blur the image on the screen more then with traditional antialaising making the image much easier on the eyes.

For a more detailed explanation on the technology behind the Radeon 8500 please read our earlier article here. Overclocking and benchmarks are up next so stay tuned!

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Contents of Article: ATI Radeon 8500
 Pg 1.  ATI Radeon 8500 Videocard Review
 Pg 2.  — Technology of the Radeon 8500
 Pg 3.  Benchmarks and Overclocking
 Pg 4.  RTCW Benchmarks
 Pg 5.  QIII Arena Benchmarks
 Pg 6.  Serious Sam Benchmarks
 Pg 7.  AA Benchmarks and Conclusions

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