Over the nine years since its inception by the Tul Corporation (nee CP Technologies), the PowerColor brand has risen from relative obscurity to a global name well-associated with graphics adapters. Initially, the company offered products based on a variety of IHV models but now they solely produce ATI-chipped graphics cards.

As with all large add-in board vendors, PowerColor have retail packages for every possible sector of the market but in this review, we shall be examining two items from their X1300 series range - the bottom end of ATI's first SM3.0 generation of graphics chips. Specially we are looking at the models which mark the highest and lowest sections of the budget category, namely the X1300 PRO BRAVO Edition and the X1300 128MB.

The Chip


ATI, like nearly every other IHV of graphics adapters, use the same chip architecture across all of their range of a specific generation - the differences comes from reducing the number of parallel sectors, such as vertex processors or fragment pipelines, and mechanical aspects such as clock speeds and memory configurations. Both PowerColor samples tested in this review sport the RV515 graphics processor:

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The X1300 chip offers the following range of features and functionality to developers and end users alike:

  • Ultra Threaded Shader Engine
    • Support of DirectX9 Programmable Vertex and Pixel Shaders
    • VS3.0 Vertex Shader functionality
      • 1024 Instructions (Unlimited with flow control)
      • Single Cycle Trigonometric Operations (SIN & COS)
    • PS3.0 Pixel Shaders
      • Ultra Thread Pixel Shader Engine
      • Fast Dynamic Branching
      • Single Precision 128-bit Floating Point (FP32) Processing
      • 16 textures per rendering pass
      • 32 temporary and constant registers per pixel
      • Facing register for two-sided lighting
      • Multiple render target support
      • Shadow volume rendering acceleration
      • 128-bit, 64-bit & 32-bit per pixel floating point colour formats
  • Advanced Image Quality Features
    • HDR Blending on FP16, Int10 and Custom Formats
      • All Blending modes work with all Anti-Aliasing Modes
    • 3Dc+ Normal Map Compression
      • High quality 4:1 Normal Map Compression
      • Two Channel & Single Channel format support
    • 2x/4x/6x Multi-Sampling full scene Anti-Aliasing modes, adaptive algorithm with programmable sample patterns and colour buffer compression
    • Adaptive Anti-Aliasing for Transparent Surfaces
    • Temporal Anti-Aliasing
    • Lossless Color Compression (up to 6:1) at all resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions
    • High Quality, Angle Invariant, Anisotropic Filter Mode
    • 2x/4x/8x/16x Anisotropic Filtering modes
    • 4Kx4X texture Support
  • Memory Controller
    • Internal Ring Bus Architecture (RV530)
    • Programmable Arbitration Logic
    • Fully Associative Caches
    • 3-level, Floating Point, Hierarchical Z-Buffer with early Z test
    • Lossless Z-Buffer compression (up to 48:1)
    • Fast Z-Buffer Clear
    • Z Cache Optimisations for shadow rendering
    • Optimized for performance at high display resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions
    • Dual 10-bit Display Pipelines
    • Dual Integrated Dual Link TMDS Transmitters, Dual 400MHz RAMDACS, Xilleon Derived TV Output.
    • Hardware Accelerated H.264 Decode

A deeper analysis of these aspects of the graphics processor can be viewed by reading our review of the R520 (Radeon X1800) chip - the primary design from which the RV515 is derived. In addition to this, one may wish to first read our examination of the reference ATI Radeon X1300 PRO before continuing with our PowerColor review.