An engine clock of 275 MHz and memory clock of 550 MHz plus a wealth of fancy features should be good enough to make Radeon 8500 the shining star on the3D-graphics horizon. Unfortunately, this product is held back by an inferior or at least immature driver. Low scores in a respectable number of benchmarks, the complete absence of ATi's new 'SmoothVision ' FSAA solution and instabilities under WindowsXP, as reported by our close friend and partner Lars 'Borsti' Weinand, www.rivastation.com , are clearly tarnishing the image of ATi's brand new flagship product.
Thankfully, Radeon comes with HydraVision as well as excellent DVD and video functions at a very attractive price of $299. This could still make Radeon 8500 a really attractive product, once the driver issues have been sorted out and 'SmoothVision' is working as promised. I wish I could understand why ATi didn't wait with their October 9 announcement and asked the press to wait with final reviews until the drivers had reached a mature state. Radeon 8500 would have deserved a lot better.
For now, Radeon 8500 is definitely making NVIDIA's life a bit harder, as it attacks the $50 more expensive GeForce3 Ti500 cards. However, as long as NVIDIA's high-end solution is performing better in a large number of benchmarks and as long as GeForce3 Ti500 is the only of the two competitors that comes with a multi-sampling FSAA solution, NVIDIA has no major reasons to worry.
Please send in your thoughts and comments about Radeon 8500. I will incorporate them into the final version of this article.