Blame it on the X300, Part One

October 14, 2006

I have recieved several messages confirming that this problem also occurs on the Xpress 1100m IGPs as well as the 200m IGPs.

A couple of recent comments have specifically referenced the Acer 5102WLMI laptop which employs the newer (and supposedly FIXED) ATI Radeon Xpress 1100m. The 1100m is, for the most part, a rebranded 200m with higher clock frequencies. They are fundamentally the same, both based on the horribly flawed (aka sorry excuse for a GPU) Radeon X300SE. I have my reasons for feeling this way, simply read on.

I recently acquired a Radeon X300SE pciE video card to evaluate so I could get a good baseline as to what to reasonably expect performance-wise out of the 200m/1100m chips. Logically, a Xpress 200m/1100m is a X300 core with half the pipes, reduced clock frequencies (both memory and core) and a reduced memory bandwidth (64bit instead of 128bit, although some X300SE models only come with 64bit) On paper alone, the 200m/1100m should be somewhere between 1/3 to 1/2 of what the X300 is in terms of performance. 

Through my testing unfortunately, the picture has not turned out to be very pretty at all. The X300 all in all, is a horrible GPU. Where it appears to be most flawed is in OpenGL operations. In many benchmarks frame rates drop to as low as 3 frames per second where in comparable DirectX benches the frame rates are at or around 20.

One thing comes to mind here. Is it any real wonder why the X300 card was the only card of its generation to NOT be ported to a FireGL variant?

I am sorry that this has taken so long. When my research is completed I will post real numbers for all to see and evaluate for yourselves.