We weren't the only ones that were disappointed with ATI Radeon 8500's performance; reviews all around the web echoed the sentiments of many gamers, including some ATI supporters: the Radeon 8500 just wasn't up to par with expectations and definitely wasn't where it should be.

Had our October 17th article been a preview of a soon-to-come Radeon 8500 card then things wouldn't be so bad, however we reviewed a final card with mass production drivers that end users were actually buying. Our recommendation thus ended up being to pass on the Radeon 8500 in favor of the lower priced GeForce3 Ti 200.

Other than the lackluster performance of the Radeon 8500 there were other issues that ATI blamed on driver limitations as well. A major disappointment was that ATI's SMOOTHVISION anti-aliasing was not implemented in the shipping drivers. In spite of ATI's promises to deliver an updated driver revision by the end of October with SMOOTHVISION support, it is now the middle of November and end users have not been able to take advantage of a feature they paid for.

With all of that said, there was a reason that we stressed how much potential the Radeon 8500 has to be competitive with currently available NVIDIA solutions. The hardware behind the Radeon 8500, in particular the efficiencies of HyperZ II and the raw memory bandwidth advantage of the card is nothing to laugh at; the low performance of the solution could only be attributed to architectural deficiencies or the more likely scenario, poor drivers.

Today, a month after ATI stocked store shelves and online retailers with Radeon 8500 cards, they are finally ready to deliver a new driver revision that improves performance and enables SMOOTHVISION. Here's the first indication that the Radeon 8500 may not be just another case of history repeating itself for ATI but let's take a look at the performance of the driver first.

The Test

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