Sapphire Radeon X300 SE HyperMemory review
In order to compete with nVidia’s Turbo Cache feature on the GeForce 6200, ATi uses exactly the same principle for its HyperMemory cards. This Sapphire is the first HyperMemory card we’ve seen.
The GPU has four pipelines, just like the GeForce 6200, but runs 25MHz faster than the 300MHz nVidia chip. Sapphire’s card has 32MB of DDR memory and can dynamically allocate system RAM for a total of up to 128MB. The onboard RAM runs at just 300MHz – significantly slower than the GeForce 6200’s memory.
Like Evesham’s X300 SE, the Sapphire is a half-height card, but fitted with a full-height backplate. There are D-SUB and DVI outputs so you can drive two monitors with this card.
This is perhaps one of the Sapphire’s highlights, as it couldn’t even manage 15fps at 1,024 x 768 when tested on our high-end rig with 4x anti-aliasing and 8x anisotropic filtering. But, even in our lower-powered test bed, the HyperMemory didn’t perform noticeably better than the Evesham X300 SE.
Only Half-Life 2 proved playable at 800 x 600 and 1,024 x 768, but Far Cry and Doom 3 were too tough for even 30fps at 800 x 600. Considering that the Sapphire is only £7 cheaper than the Evesham and there’s just an S-Video-to-composite convertor in the box, there’s little more incentive to invest in HyperMemory than the ‘normal’ X300 SE. If you want dual outputs, this represents good value, but otherwise we recommend spending extra for more 3D grunt.