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Graphics on a budget with the ATI Radeon VE

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ATI's new Radeon VE launched yesterday to a mixed, but mostly positive, reaction. The multi-monitor support was a hit, but in terms of raw performance, Nvidia's GeForce2 MX had the edge.

It is aimed squarely at the budget section of the market, or 'value' end, as the marketing people like to call it. The board is inexpensive - it's expected to retail in the UK for £99. (Yes, they did the straight dollars to pounds conversion again.)

The board uses what ATI calls HydraVision technology to support up to nine multi-monitor configurations. According to a review of the board at Anandtech, all the extra gizmos fail to compensate for its slower speed.

Asked about the performance deficit compared to the GeForce2 MX, ATI UK product manager Mark Holmes said: "We didn't build it to be the fastest. We have incorporated many of the extra features into the silicon on the board already, making it a more complex board."

People will not be disappointed with the performance and speed is not be-all and end-all of a video board, he argues. Besides, people who are concerned about performance above all else won't be looking at the budget end of the market anyway.

"And anyway," he said. "This board gives people an excuse to upgrade to a flat panel monitor or dig their old 15-inch monitors out of the attic."

Holmes reckons the video card market was pretty much a two-horse race, after the demise of 3dfx. "The departure of 3dfx certainly opened up the market in terms of shelf space," he said. "But it does really leave us and Nvidia still in the running." ®

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