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Reviewed by: Bryan Pizzuti, Carl Nelson [02.24.03]
Card Manufacturer: Powercolor
GPU Manufacturer: SiS
MSRP: $125

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These days, all we hear about is NVIDIA and ATI; ATI and NVIDIA.  These two companies gobble up a lot of attention in the news because of their top-end video solutions.  However, high end video cards make up only a small segment of their overall sales figures.  A large percentage of the public aren't looking to spend $400 on a video card, so they end up going to lower-end solutions, where there is a BIT more competition.  And though the venerable Kyro2 chip has pretty much died out, solutions from Trident and SiS are still thick on the ground in this $50-$150 market segment, competing with NVIDIA's GeForce MX Series, and ATI's value RADEONs.  Today, we look at Powercolor's SiS Xabre600 solution.

The Card

I love the artwork on this box.  Simple, yet effective and somewhat eye-catching, if a bit dark.  There are some decent goodies found inside, including Powercolor's universal manual for all Xabre-based video cards, an S-video to RCA adapter, and an RCA video cable (unfortunately, an S-video cable is NOT included).  Also included are several CDs containing the drivers, the WinDVD program for DVD viewing, and an included copy of Rune (but no other games, unfortunately) incidentally, there's also a DVI-to-VGA adapter.

The Card

Yes, that's right, this is a dual setup, with one VGA out and one DVI out, with a DVI-VGA adapter, and also TV-out through either S-Video or RCA.  This card certainly doesn't skimp on the options; it has a full set of features.  The memory is all BGA, and should therefore perform well and run quite cool, and the GPU itself has a fairly meaty HSF unit on it secured with just the right amount of thermal paste.  This would be a perfectly designed card, if not for the puke-yellow PCB that just screams "I'm a budget video card from the ghetto and you know it BOYEEEEEE!!!".

Like the GeForce4 series, the Xabre600 supports output to only 2 out of the 3 possible displays at once, and you can't hot-swap the cables while the system is on; they must be plugged in at power-up time in order to be detected.

When we removed the HSF unit (which uses standard GPU fan plastic peg mountings) we found that it was actually secured with thermal paste, which is surprising for a card at this price point. It's especially surprising since the Xabre600 core isn't supposed to get terribly hot.  Hopefully that will help the chip overclock a bit, since the HSF looks like it could be quite effective.

Now that we know what Powercolor has done with the chip, let's have a look at the SiS-made chip itself:

The Chip

SiS Xabre600 specifications:

GPU Frequency: 300 MHz
Memory: 64 MB (128 MB maximum)
Memory Speed: 300 MHz DDR (600 MHz effective)
Dual-monitor support: Yes
AGP 8x max
Hardware T&L
Vertexelizer Engine (Combines software and T&L engine)
Hardware Pixel shaders v1.3
AGP bandwidth optimization (XmartAGP)
3D/2D Auto Optimization and Gamma correction (XmartVision)
XmartDrive thermal and speed management
TV-Out: 800x600 max
4 pixel pipelines
2 texture units per pipe
2x-4x supersampling blur AA
Motion compensation

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