It's been over two years since we first reviewed a PowerColor graphics card. In that time Tul's graphics card brand has cemented its position as a shortlist choice for anyone looking to pick up an ATI-based graphics board. One of ATI's exclusive AIB partners, PowerColor usually go for a staid, no-frills approach (but that's not to say they can't push the boat out!) and it's a tactic that serves them well.
There's a large consumer base that buys largely on price alone, and PowerColor always manage to stay competitive in that respect.
Like all of ATI's AIB partners, too, PowerColor have stood firmly behind their IHV's latest GPU product line and range of board configurations based on those. From RV515 and Radeon X1300 all the way to R580 and Radeon X1900, PowerColor have one of whatever ATI seek to offer, with their own specific SKUs thrown in to boot.
Sticking with RV515, one of the lesser known features the diminutive GPU supports is HyperMemory. HyperMemory, like NVIDIA's TurboCache, lets a GPU on PCI Express use system memory as if it were right there on the add-in board.
The first generation of HyperMemory paired ATI RV370 with 32MiB of on-board memory on a 64-bit memory bus. That configuration then augmented a further 96MiB of system to create a 128MiB product. Our analysis of the first Radeon X300SE HyperMemory products, carried out by yours truly, presented a conclusion that performance was solid, but generally bested by NVIDIA's comparable TurboCache offerings.
And that's all we've seen of HyperMemory until recently, when PowerColor dropped an RV515-based HyperMemory product into us for a peek. Their Radeon X1300 HyperMemory 2 does the same local-plus-system memory dance, but it moves the HyperMemory game on quite significantly.
Not only is the on-board memory count significantly higher at 128MiB, allowing for a 512MiB total memory space (on a 1GiB system), it's also usefully clocked at 400MHz (800MHz effective via a double data rate). Local bus width is 64-bit as on the previous generation of HyperMemory products, and the GPU clock rate is as high as the regular X1300 PRO.
Therefore it's PowerColor's Radeon X1300 HyperMemory 2 on the test bench today, so join us as we compare it to X1300 PRO in the main to check just how well HyperMemory does these days, seeing if it's worth shortlisting for a budget PCI Express PC.
And for those wondering how it does versus NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GS and LE (with LE announced yesterday and shortly to be released to retail and e-tail), we'll quickly cover that too.