ATI plays clock speed games with Radeon 8500


— 12:00 AM on October 19, 2001

Judging by the barrage of requests in the comments on Dissonance's OCZ Titan 3 review, you guys would like to see us do an ATI Radeon 8500 review. We're working to make that happen, but since ATI can't be bothered to answer our e-mail, we've gotta acquire the card elsewhere. (Apparently, reviews like this one would involve too much scrutiny for ATI products.) In seeking out the right card to review, we had to tiptoe though the usual ATI minefield: different clock speeds for the retail and OEM versions of their cards.

The preliminary information we've been able to gather is this: once again, it appears ATI's OEM cards run at a lower clock speed than the retail versions. In this case, we know the retail Radeon 8500s run at a core clock rate of 275MHz, with memory at 550MHz. The word I hear is that OEM Radeon 8500s are clocked at 250MHz core and 500MHz memory. In terms of theoretical performance, that works out like so:

Radeon 8500

Core clock

Pixel pipelines

Fill rate Mpixels/sec

Textures per pixel

Fill rate Mtexels/sec

Retail

275MHz

4

1100

3

3300

OEM

250MHz

4

1000

3

3000

Of course, those numbers are mostly theoretical, and they don't take into account other effects of a clock speed decrease, like a drop in the T&L processing power of the vertex shader. (And really, few apps use that third texture unit on the Radeon.) In terms of real-world fill rate, the more important numbers are below:

Radeon 8500

Memory clock

Bus width

Memory
bandwidth

Retail

550MHz
(275MHz DDR)

128 bits

8.8GB/sec

OEM

500MHz
(250MHz DDR)

128 bits

8.0GB/sec

If these numbers turn out to be accurate, the OEM Radeon 8500 cards will be slower than their retail counterparts you're seeing reviewed and benchmarked most places (including here—I don't want to review the slow version!). I can't recall NVIDIA playing these sorts of games with OEM cards—at least not in the high end of the market, where performance matters most. As closely matched as the Radeon 8500 and GeForce3 Ti 500 have been in many tests, ATI's clock speed games seem ill-advised to me.

Anyhow, that's the word I hear about OEM 8500 cards.

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