Final ThoughtsBeing the weakest weapon in the ATI arsenal does not exactly make the Radeon X1300 all that powerful. In fact the Radeon X1300 is painfully slow, despite offering playable performance in most games with minimal quality settings enabled at 1024x768. Clearly the VisionTek Radeon X1300 PCI is not intended for gaming, though with such a high price tag one would expect average gaming performance. When you consider that for the same price a PCI Express GeForce 7600GS graphics card can be purchased, you have to wonder if the exclusive PCI support is a worthwhile investment.
Of course, if you are limited to the PCI bus for one reason or another this VisionTek Radeon graphics card is probably the most powerful solution out there. That said, it is still nearly useless when it comes to gaming, so why not go with an older and much cheaper PCI graphics card? Older PCI -based Radeon cards still offer TV-Out and DVI, so there is really no need to spend $110 on this updated version. Given the Radeon X1300 Pro used for comparison costs just $60 and resulted in a 100% performance increase, how could anyone justify purchasing this graphics card?
There are no new systems that do not offer a PCI Express port of some kind and almost all old systems feature an AGP port. There are also plenty of low-profile PCIe and AGP cards floating around the market. If you must have a PCI graphics card I would recommend something cheaper, such as a Radeon 9250, which currently retails for just $50.
There are a few feature advantages the VisionTek Radeon X1300 PCI has over the outdated models such as SM 3.0 support, dual link DVI, and HDTV 1080p support. These are all very new and up to date features, which on paper makes this card ideal for HTPC use. However, I cannot help but ignore the fact that if you are after these new and up to date features, why not just build a new HTPC? There are a million examples I could use and here is one of them. For $110 the passive Radeon X1300 Pro graphics card used for comparison in this review could be purchased along with a new MSI K9N Neo-F motherboard. Why not upgrade the system for something significantly more powerful? Of course, you will still need a processor and memory, but if you play your cards right even this can be avoided by purchasing a new motherboard using your existing processor socket.
Finally, the fact that this graphics card does not ship with a low-profile bracket amazes me. The only real reason I could ever imagine purchasing this graphics card would be for its low-profile design and yet I would have to pay a little extra (~$10) for the bracket to use this feature, which makes the VisionTek Radeon X1300 PCI even more impractical. Maybe if there was only a $20 premium over standard Radeon PCIe models, I could well justify buying this board, but at almost twice the price I have tried to think of reasons why to spend $110 on this little PCI graphics card, but unfortunately there are not any. This is an unusual graphics card for the unconventional user.