ATI Radeon XPRESS 200 Chipset Preview

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Thoughts & Conclusion

The NorthBridgeDa Phish!

Nathan Kirsch’s Thoughts:

ATI delivered us a reference board that was stable, fast, and was even able to be overclocked!  If you overlooked the hot fixes on the board one might think that this was a production board.  I’ve honestly seen more than a handful of retail boards based on other chipsets that had more issues than the ATI Radeon XPRESS 200 reference board. 

The Radeon XPRESS 200 will be aimed at system builders and the OEM market.  The Radeon Xpress 200P will be priced above the low cost VIA chipsets, but below the cost of Nvidia and Intel chipsets.  With the XPRESS 200 IGP board performing so well in our gaming benchmarking it is only a matter of time till ATI gets a good portion of the IGP market.  With IGP performance levels like these wouldn’t it be nice to see this IGP chipset and HyperMemory solution in a laptop?  ATI plans on launching a mobile version of the Radeon Xpress 200 in the near future! 

The north bridge on the board is stable and fast, but the south bridge leaves us wanting more from ATI.  Although it is clear that ATI has the IGP race won for now they didn’t slam the door on Intel or other chipset makers as the south bridge is lacking many features found on the Intel ICH6R and others.  The ATI Radeon XPRESS 200 lacks any PCI-Express lanes to the north bridge, High Definition Audio, SATA NCQ (Native Command Queuing), and RAID features like 0+1 raid.  So I hope the engineers who are working on the ATI Radeon XPRESS chipsets aren’t on vacation yet as they can improve a number of things still.

Overall the performance shown from the Radeon XPRESS 200 was solid and we were happy with the board.  ATI told us months ago that they did not want to release a board that performed much below any of the top boards on the market.  After running the reference board ATI can rest assured that they didn’t, and like a fine wine these products only get better over time.  Hopefully by the time these boards hit the retail market they will have even newer drivers and better performance from them. 

Speaking of hitting the market it looks like ATI might be the first company to have a PCI Express platform out the door and in the hand of AMD K8 fans!  That would be a slap in the face for VIA and Nvidia who both have been working on their PCIe boards for many months now. 

 Legit Bottom Line:

ATI’s Radeon XPRESS 200 just raised the bar in what can be expected from integrated graphics! 

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