VisionTek offers one of the more unusual graphics card product lines out there and although they exclusively deal with ATI chips, they do not cover the entire line of Radeons. For example, while they do have a Radeon X1900XTX part, there is no X1900XT, or CrossFire master cards for that matter.
The Radeon X1900 GT is also missing from the product range, along with several other ATI GPUs. Despite this however, VisionTek still present us with a number of unique options, such as their exclusive Radeon X1600XT AGP card, and now the Radeon X1300 in PCI form.
Although, the Radeon X1300 is predominantly a PCI Express graphics card, VisionTek has ported it to the plain old PCI bus. You are probably wondering why they would even bother doing this, given they already produce AGP and PCIe versions of the Radeon X1300 supporting both 256MB and 512MB of memory. Well, there are a number of reasons why such a card could come in handy, for example HTPCs (Home Theater Personal Computer). These are generally very compact and use a low profile PCI design.
This means that full-size PCI Express and AGP cards will not fit into these tiny computers. Those building new HTPCs will no doubt purchase a Micro-ATX motherboard that supports PCIe and couple that with a low-profile PCIe graphics card. However, many HTPCs are built to a budget and consist of mostly old hardware, this is where a low-profile PCI graphics card could come in handy. Also consider users of the early Shuttle XPC system, which only features PCI expansion slots, the VisionTek Radeon X1300 PCI could be a blessing for these users.
While I can see a reasonable demand for such a graphics card it is not exactly a product I would find useful, as there are plenty of low-profile AGP and PCIe cards out there. There are very few PCI only systems and the original Shuttle systems are the only I can think of that would still be in circulation. Nevertheless, VisionTek has stated that the demand for a new up to date PCI graphics card is quite high, and they intend to deliver with the Radeon X1300. VisionTek stated upon releasing this new graphics card that "Not all computers even nowadays feature PCI Express or AGP slots for graphics cards, however, virtually all PCs feature PCI slots."
Regardless of demand, the VisionTek Radeon X1300 is a smart little product because it is so compatible. Although I would prefer a PCIe graphics card, you have to admit that a one card solution for all occasions is a neat idea. However, given the X1300 chip is a native PCIe product, allowing it to operate on the PCI bus does require a small bridge chip, much like those used to run PCIe cards on the AGP bus. The only negative effect of such a chip comes down to the cost, and this VisionTek graphics card is not all that affordable.
Consider that a standard PCI Express graphics card featuring 256MB of onboard memory and the Radeon X1300 GPU can be purchased for as little as $60. Now consider the VisionTek Radeon X1300 PCI price tag of $110, having second thoughts? The idea of a PCI card, as I understand it, is to offer a cost effective solution anyone can benefit from. For just $50 the low-profile PCIe version of the ASUS Radeon X1300 can be purchased, sure it only features 128MB of memory but at that price it shouldn't be an issue. With the money you save here why not just purchase a $60 Micro-ATX PCIe motherboard to suit?
The price of this VisionTek graphics card is a little extreme, as it is priced amongst the most expensive X1300 Pro solutions out there and it’s not a Pro version. For the same price an All-In-Wonder can be purchased, which is much more HTPC friendly given what these cards can do. Therefore, while I initially suggested that this could be an ideal upgrade for those building budget HTPC systems, it probably is not for most. Featuring the PCI bus (3.3v) with a core speed of 450MHz and a memory frequency of 533MHz, there is nothing else out of the ordinary to report on the VisionTek Radeon X1300 PCI.
Read on for performance comparisons and more impressions.