ATI Radeon 7500 review: ATI Radeon 7500

  • 1
4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Affordable price; dual-display capability.

The Bad Sluggish speed; no bundled games.

The Bottom Line Dual-display ability helps make the ATI's merely satisfactory performance much more palatable.

8.0 Overall

The ATI Radeon 7500 is the latest in a long line of strong chipsets. Compared to the competition, however, its performance falls short. But the card offers other advantages, most notably an affordable price (ATI just dropped it from $199 to $149) and dual-display support. If you're willing to trade its unique features for some compromise in speed, the Radeon 7500 is a good deal. The ATI Radeon 7500 is the latest in a long line of strong chipsets. Compared to the competition, however, its performance falls short. But the card offers other advantages, most notably an affordable price (ATI just dropped it from $199 to $149) and dual-display support. If you're willing to trade its unique features for some compromise in speed, the Radeon 7500 is a good deal.

Seeing double
If you've ever felt short of desktop work (or play) space, the ATI's dual-monitor capability might be the answer to your problems. The card is equipped with both a standard 15-pin VGA connector and a DVI-I connector for digital flat-panel displays, and there is a DVI-to-VGA adapter for hooking up two VGA monitors simultaneously. Also, an S-Video-out port and cable let you connect the Radeon to a television so that you can use it as a monitor.

Installing the ATI is fast and easy thanks to the clear, thorough instructions; just slide the card into an AGP slot and install the software (sorry, no PCI option is available). Aside from the drivers for Windows 98, Me, 2000, NT 4.0, and XP, the software CD includes DVD-viewing software (useful if you have a DVD-ROM drive) and a multimedia-player application. A multimonitor utility called Hydravision lets you specify which monitor you want a new window to appear in or which you want an application to run in. But as with the Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 200, you won't find any bundled games.

The card's Radeon 7500 GPU gives the ATI impressive processing power--almost more than you need. For example, it supports a maximum resolution of 2,048x1,536 with a 75Hz refresh rate, but few people currently use such an astronomical setting. Besides, lowering the resolution to 1,280x1,024 boosts the refresh rate to 100Hz, and at 1,024x768, the refresh rate is an amazing 200Hz--almost entirely flicker-free and much easier on the eyes. The Radeon 7500 has 64MB of DDR memory, which is plenty for most uses--and the least you'd want for current games.

Trumped in testing
But ample memory wasn't enough. Though the Radeon 7500 offered adequate gaming performance, it was trumped at every turn in CNET Labs' performance tests when compared to the slightly more expensive Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 200. In the Quake III Arena test at a resolution of 1,600x1,200 with 32-bit color, the Radeon 7500 scored a poky 53 frames per second (fps) compared to the Prophet III Titanium 200's 70.5fps. Lowering the resolution to 1,024x768 boosted the ATI's output to a much better 115fps, but the Hercules still held the lead with 149fps. In MadOnion's 3DMark 2001 Pro and eTesting Labs' 3D WinBench tests, the ATI lagged behind the Hercules at all resolutions.

Like the Radeon 7500's performance, ATI's support policies for the card are good rather than dazzling. The company backs the card with a long, three-year limited warranty. The company's neatly organized Web site offers OS and product-specific support via a generous search engine and FAQ library. Telephone support is not toll-free. Its availability--9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET on weekdays--is adequate for businesses but hard news for late-night tinkerers and weekend warriors. E-mail support is a big hassle; only after you submit to an interactive Q&A troubleshooter, which tries to solve your problem by bouncing you around to related (and not always helpful) support pages on the site, can you actually send off a support question for humans to answer.

Good enough
The Radeon 7500's dual-output capabilities are a unique asset, and its 64MB of DDR RAM is generous, but it is crippled with subpar speed. If you need dual displays, however, this is your only choice. And budget-minded users may be willing to trade some speed for savings. But if performance matters to you more, you'll have to shell out the extra cash for the Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 200.

Quake III Arena test
Frames per second; longer bars indicate better performance
32-bit color; 1,024x768   
32-bit color; 1,280x1,024   
32-bit color; 1,600x1,200   
Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 200 (Nvidia GeForce3; 64MB DDR)
149.3 
100.3 
70.5 
ATI Radeon 7500 (64MB DDR)
115.1 
74.4 
52.8 
 
3D test: MadOnion.com's 3DMark 2001 Pro
Longer bars indicate better performance
16-bit color; 1,024x768   
32-bit color; 1,024x768   
32-bit color; 1,280x1,024   
32-bit color; 1,600x1,200
Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 200 (Nvidia GeForce3; 64MB DDR)
6,327 
6,221 
4,924 
3,779 
ATI Radeon 7500 (64MB DDR)
4,542 
4,457 
3,640 
2,891 
 
3D test: eTesting Labs' 3D WinBench 2000 1.1
Longer bars indicate better performance
16-bit color; 1,024x768   
32-bit color; 1,024x768   
32-bit color; 1,280x1,024   
32-bit color; 1,600x1,200
Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 200 (Nvidia GeForce3; 64MB DDR)
203 
199 
136 
99 
ATI Radeon 7500 (64MB DDR)
172 
162 
108 
79.8 
 
Despite its 64MB of DDR RAM, the ATI Radeon 7500 was outclassed in every test by the similarly equipped Hercules 3D Prophet III Titanium 200.

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