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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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The Test

As far as pure specifications, the SiS chip has both of these NVIDIA chips beat.  It's 30 MHz faster than the MX chip, and 50 MHz faster than the TI4200.  Not only that but the SiS chip offers faster RAM, by 200 and 100 effective MHz respectively, providing 9.6 GB of memory bandwidth.  It should be noted, however, that it's only dual-channel RAM, whereas NVIDIA's CROSSBAR technology creates 4 32-bit channels.  The Xabre600 also offers double the pixel pipes, and a capability to render twice as many textures per pass as the GF4MX440.  This is the identical number of pipes and textures that the TI4200 has in its arsenal.  The TI4200 and Xabre600 also share hardware pixel shaders, but the Xabre600 has semi-soft vertex shaders, whereas the TI4200 has 2 discrete hardware vertex units (The MX440 is left out of this DirectX8 compatible party) which should give the TI a performance advantage in that area. All cards have some form of Z-axis culling, and support antialiasing, but from the specs, it looks like the Xabre600 is a closer match to the TI4200 than it does the MX440. Pricewise, the Xabre600 and the TI4200 DO compete, since the MX440 is noticeably cheaper. The TI4200 has dropped a lot lately with the release of the special edition 8XAGP compatible chips from NVIDIA, including an 8XAGP version of the TI4200. So let's see if the Xabre's performance can justify it's technology and price.

The test system has the following specifications:
Pentium 2.4 GHz Northwood
512 MB DDR266 RAM
Abit IT7 motherboard (I845E chipset)
On-board audio
Western Digital 800JB HDD on chipset controller
Microtek 17 inch flat-panel display
MSI GF4Ti4200 64MB Version (Detonator version 41.09)
Powercolor Xabre600 64MB version (Xminator version 3.09.52)

This review will include the HCW premier of 3 benchmarks; 3DMark2003, Unreal Tournament 2003, and the OpenGL-based GL_EXT_reme


We're retiring 3DMark2000, since the results from this benchmark have gotten so high that they become pretty much meaningless.  3DMark2001SE is the DirectX8 version of the popular benchmark, and will allow us to take a closer look at several specific areas of interest including pixel shader, advanced pixel shader (v1.4), and vertex shader performance.  All tests were run at 1280x1024x32.  We also used the WHQL Xminator drivers here to see if the "performance" drivers really do add to performance.  This test was run in "balanced" mode for all 3 card/driver combinations.

As always, we post our full results for the world to see:
TI4200 Scores
Xabre600 WHQL
Xabre600 Perf

As you can see, the Xabre600 is annhiliated by the similarly priced Ti4200 in 3dMark 2001.  Let's have a look at the individual results and find out why there is just so much 0wnage:

Just as you would imagine, the heavy score different looks to come mostly from the absolutely atrocious shader performance on the Xabre600.  So while SiS' interesting use of software emulation for shaders to maintain DX8 compatibility, it is just so slow they might as well not have bothered.

It appears that there IS a bit of performance increase with the performance drivers, so I think we'll stick with them for the rest of the tests.  It's almost not noticeable by eye, but 3Dmark score and fill rate figures go up significantly, though shader performance remains the same.

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