The ATI Radeon 8500LE
The ATI Radeon 8500LE is not a new product by any stretch, but more a spin on an existing design. Previously, ATI offered the Radeon 8500 with a full 275/275 core and memory speeds, while letting various 3rd-party manufacturers produce the lower-end 8500LE version. These OEM or 3rd-party Radeon 8500LE boards commonly featured core and memory speeds of 250/250 (though some products were clocked even lower) and did not usually include any special features like DVI output.
The ATI Radeon 8500LE is a twist on that formula, being clocked at 250/250, but with a full complement of 128-MB of DDR memory. It is only natural that ATI wouldn't introduce a card that had already been in the OEM market for months and the 128-MB of card memory serves to differentiate it from the pack.
In terms of software and game features, the Radeon 8500LE is a Radeon core, through and through. This includes support for all the standard Radeon 8500 features like TRUFORM, HYPER Z II, SMARTSHADER, PIXEL TAPESTRY, etc. and full DirectX 8.1 compatibility.
The ATI Radeon 8500LE Card
The retail ATI Radeon 8500LE card we received looked eerily similar to the Radeon 8500 board we reviewed awhile back. The heatsink-fan, PCB layout and even the size and number of capacitors is virtually identical between cards, but there are two main differences between them.
The first is the absence of a DVI output on the back of the 8500LE. This only affects those who need the feature for LCDs or a second monitor, but most gamers will gladly trade this omission in return for the cost savings. The Radeon 8500LE still features an S-Video out port on the back, which also supports dual-display through Hydravision. Included with the package are S-Video and composite cables, as well as an S-Video/composite converter.
The other difference, or in this case an improvement, is in the area of on-board memory. Our previous Radeon 8500 review card featured 64-MB of 3.6 ns Hynix DDR memory, while our Radeon 8500LE included 128-MB of 3.3 ns Infineon DDR. The number of DDR modules is unchanged between the cards, but the Radeon 8500LE used the higher density, more compact 128-Mbit versions. We have seen later editions of the Radeon 8500 using higher-end 3.3 ns memory, but it is still nice to know that ATI will equip even their lower-speed versions with the good stuff.