Abit's Radeon 9800 XT 256MB
ATi Invades More of NVIDIA's Turf...

By, Marco Chiappetta
February 25, 2004

Historically, with the release of each new core logic chipset, enthusiasts the world over eagerly anticipate what Abit has in store for them.  From the original BH6, to their current flagship "MAX" line of motherboards, Abit has consistently released products that stray from the norm and offer unique features and best-of-class performance.  Their well deserved reputation for producing high-quality, enthusiast grade motherboards facilitated Abit's jump into the video card market a few years back, and they've sporadically released well received 3D accelerators ever since.  Their video cards also got the traditional "Abit treatment", as is evident by the unique cooling solutions found on their popular "O.T.E.S." (Outside Thermal Exhaust System) equipped products like the Siluro Ti4200 and Siluro FX 5900.  Traditionally, they have produced video cards powered solely by NVIDIA GPUs, but on January 12, 2004 that all changed when Abit announced they planned to release new cards based on ATi's popular Radeon R3x0 cores.  As a result of their newly formed alliance with ATi, today we're able to bring you a review of Abit's latest flagship video card based on ATi's top-of-the-line Radeon 9800 XT VPU.  Like other Radeon 9800 XTs, this card is equipped with 256MB of high-speed DDR memory and sports all of the features and benefits associated with ATi's R360 VPU.  So, has Abit worked their own special brand of magic to produce a video card that truly stands-out from the competition?  You're about to find out...

Specifications & Features of The Abit Radeon 9800XT 256MB
Abit & ATi Come Together

      

RADEON 9800 XT Visual Processing Unit (VPU)
- 412MHz Core Clock

MEMORY CONFIGURATION
- 256MB of DDR SDRAM - 730MHz DDR

3D GRAPHICS FEATURES
- Eight parallel rendering pipelines process up to 3.3 billion pixels per second
- Four parallel geometry engines process up to 380 million transformed and lit polygons per second
- High precision 10-bit per channel frame buffer support
- 256-bit DDR memory interface
- AGP 8X support

SMARTSHADER 2.1
- Full support for Microsoft DirectX 9.0 programmable pixel and vertex shaders in hardware
- 2.0 Pixel Shaders support up to 16 textures per rendering pass
- 2.0 Vertex Shaders support vertex programs with an unlimited number of instructions and flow control
- 128-bit per pixel floating point color formats
- Multiple Render Target (MRT) support
- Shadow volume rendering acceleration
- Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL via extensions


SMOOTHVISION 2.1
- State-of-the-art full-scene anti-aliasing
- New technology processes up to 18.2 billion anti-aliased samples per second for unprecedented performance
- Supports 2x, 4x, and 6x modes with programmable sample patterns
- Advanced anisotropic filtering
- Supports up to 16 bilinear samples (in performance mode) or trilinear samples (in quality mode) per pixel
- 2x/4x/6x full scene anti-aliasing modes
- Adaptive algorithm with programmable sample patterns
- 2x/4x/8x/16x anisotropic filtering modes
- Adaptive algorithm with bilinear (performance) and trilinear (quality) options
- Bandwidth-saving algorithm enables this feature with minimal performance cost


HYPER Z III+
- Hierarchical Z-Buffer and Early Z Test reduce overdraw by detecting and discarding hidden pixels
- Lossless Z-Buffer Compression and Fast Z-Buffer Clear reduce memory bandwidth consumption by over 50%
- Fast Z-Buffer Clear
- 8.8 : 1 Compression Ratio
- Optimized Z-Cache for enhanced performance of shadow volumes

TRUFORM II
- 2nd generation N-patch higher order surface support
- Discrete and continuous tessellation levels per polygon for dynamic LOD
- DirectX 9.0 displacement mapping
VIDEOSHADER
- Seamless integration of programmable pixel shaders with video data
- High quality, hardware accelerated de-blocking of internet streaming video
- Noise removal filter for captured video
- Integrated MPEG-2 decode
- Hardware accelerated iDCT, motion compensation, and color space conversion
- Top quality DVD and all-format DTV/HDTV decode with low CPU overhead
- Back-end scaler delivers top quality playback
- Upscaling and downscaling with 4-tap horizontal and vertical filtering
- Filtered display of images up to 1920 pixels wide
- Unique per-pixel adaptive de-interlacing feature combines the best elements of the bob and add-field (weave) techniques

FULLSTREAM video de-blocking technology
- Noise removal filtering for captured video
- MPEG-2 decoding with motion compensation, iDCT and color space conversion
- All-format DTV/HDTV decoding
- YPrPb component output
- Adaptive de-interlacing and frame rate conversion
- Dual integrated display controllers
- Dual integrated 10-bit per channel 400MHz DACs
- Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI and HDCP compliant)
- Integrated TV Output support up to 1024x768 resolution
- Optimized for Pentium 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon 3Dnow!
- PC 2002 compliant


DISPLAY FEATURES
- Dual integrated display controllers
- Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions and refresh rates
- HYDRAVISION software provides complete control over multi-display configurations with a user-friendly interface
- Dual integrated 10-bit per channel palette DACs operating at up to 400MHz
- Integrated 165MHz TMDS transmitter supports resolutions up to QXGA (2048x1536) and complies with DVI and HDCP specifications
- Integrated TV-Out support up to 1024x768 resolution
- YPrPb output for direct drive of HDTV monitors

DISPLAY SUPPORT
- 15-pin VGA connector for analog CRT
- S-video or composite connector for TV/VCR
- DVI-I connector for digital CRT or flat panel
- Independent resolutions and refresh rates for any two connected displays

GENERAL FEATURES
- Comprehensive 2x, 4x, and 8x AGP support
- High performance quad-channel DDR or DDR2 memory interface supports 64/128/256MB configurations
- Fully compliant with PC 2002 requirements
- Optimized for Pentium 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon 3Dnow! processor instructions
- Supports optional THEATER 200 companion chip for NTSC/PAL/SECAM video capture
- Highly optimized 128-bit 2D engine with support for new Windows XP GDI extensions

       
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

With Abit's reputation for catering to the gamer and enthusiast crowds, we had expected them to offer a unique accessory and software bundle with their Radeon 9800 XT, but unfortunately they did not.  The card's packaging was attractive, and looked much like ATi's own retail ready Radeon 9800 XT packaging.  Aside from the card itself, we found an S-Video cable, a composite "RCA" video cable, an S-Video to Composite adapter, a Molex power splitter and a DVI-to-DB15 adapter.  Also accompanying the card were two booklets, a multi-lingual quick installation guide and detailed user's manual, along with a driver & utility CD that contained a copy of Cyberlink's excellent PowerDVD 5 DVD playback software.  The last accoutrement was a voucher for the upcoming first person shooter Half Life 2.  When (hopefully in this lifetime) Half Life 2 is released, Abit Radeon 9800 XT owners will be able to redeem the voucher for the full version of the game.

The Card & Some Screenshots