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Xabre Rattling - SiS's New Graphics Chip


With the Xabre400, SiS is bringing a very interesting chip to market. Thanks to the unbeatable price, many cardmakers are already introducing Xabre based cards, since the margin of profit should be much higher than with ATi or NVIDIA products.

Performance wise the Xabre ranks between the MX 440 and MX 460 in most games. In others, it performs much worse, though, as can be seen in Giants, where even the Kyro II surpasses it. This is mostly due to not fully optimized drivers though, and, judging from the frequency with which SiS is releasing new drivers, should be remedied soon.

SiS's questionable decision to include cheating features like the ability to see through walls and switch to wireframe models is bound to enrage many people in the gaming community. SiS' PR strategists seem to have been on vacation during the ASUS see-through driver debacle. Online gamers with a SiS card may well have to get used to being denounced as cheaters - at least until SiS rectifies the situation and is able to rebuild gamers' confidence and trust in its drivers.

If you're on the lookout for an inexpensive graphics card with very good TV-out, you're bound to be pleased with the Xabre400. Once in awhile you might come across a game that gives you trouble though. It can be safely said that NVIDIA and ATi products currently experience much fewer problems or graphical glitches with games. Then again, those cards also cost a bit more. The incompatibility problems with VIA motherboards are a real nuisance, but SiS is currently working on a fix that is meant to identify the exact revisions of the chipsets in question. Once this is accomplished, the drivers will only revert to AGP 2x if it is really necessary.

SiS should be taken seriously as a company. If the Taiwanese are able to pull of everything on their roadmap - and in a timely fashion - they might well be able to establish themselves as a third power in the graphics card market. It's an uphill battle though, and it's only just begun. The road ahead of the Xabre and its successors is long, but the first steps are more than promising and have definitely piqued my interest.