Support, 2D Quality, Video-In

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Support, 2D Quality, Video-In

Support and Warranty

Though Asus support has been infamous for “horror” stories, these incidents usually revolve around motherboard products which are much more complex than videocards. Unlike motherboards, videocards are simpler in design (typically only 1 chipset) and hardware problems are fewer. Should you ever need support for your Asus Radeon 9800XT, they offer phone, email, and online support. Their online knowledge base is sparse and doesn’t appear to be maintained on any regular schedule. Even their NVIDIA videocard knowledge base is sporadically populated.

The technical support line is only open from 5:30am to 5pm PST (in North America), so those of you who work during the day will be out of luck unless you spend the time during your schedule to fit in a call. It is also worth mentioning that Asus does not list any toll-free support numbers, so you will be paying for every minute you’re connected.

There is an online forum at the Asus website that requires a mandatory registration (complete with mailing address and phone number requirements). At time of publishing this article, their forum was unreachable, so unfortunately I can’t say if their forum is any good. It is also unfortunate for any customer looking for electronic support and find the Asus forum nonexistent at the time.

Warranty is something we don’t usually think about until it’s time to use it. Unlike some other videocard products I have reviewed here, Asus comes with 3 years warranty prominently displayed on the front of the box. However, when you actually try to find out what you’re entitled to you will find that this information is hard to come by. The manuals included in the package don’t mention warranty at all! Strangely, the only spot where I found warranty details was on the Asus website (here) and it states:

All ASUS VGA cards purchased after January 1st, 2001 will carry 3 year standard warranty services worldwide.
One year limited warranty is given for purchase made prior to 2001.

I can only assume that “standard warranty” includes parts and labour for 3 years. I wish Asus would document their warranty policy more clearly and define exactly what the consumer is entitled to.

2D Image Quality

2D Image quality on the Asus Radeon 9800XT is excellent. I watched my new copy of Lord of the Rings: Two Towers Extended Edition on my monitor and it looked amazing. Those beautiful landscape sequences in Rohan/Edoras was vivid and rich. Doing some general desktop navigation and web surfing, I did not notice anything that would make me think of adjusting the card’s color settings. But best of all, the Asus Radeon 9800XT had no problems co-existing with my Belkin Omni cube KVM switch!

Unlike the NVIDIA FX5700 Ultra (reviewed here) and the FX5950 Ultra, the Asus Radeon 9800XT exhibited zero ghosting and blurring when connected to the KVM. I realize that not everyone will experience this problem with their particular brand of switch, but it’s important to let consumers know that not all videocards will co-operate nicely with their hardware.

Video Input / Digitization

To test the quality of video input, we will compare the quality of a frame from a DVD captured with the Asus Radeon 9800XT, MSI FX5600, and directly off the DVD itself by doing a frame capture on a DVD-ROM.

Encoding AVI
Compression Raw / No compression
Input Source Composite video
Resolution 720×480
Software InterVideo Producer 2.0

No compression was used in any of the captures to ensure the highest fidelity. The movie I have chosen is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Asus Radeon 9800XT/TVD - Graphics Cards 97Asus Radeon 9800XT/TVD - Graphics Cards 98Asus Radeon 9800XT/TVD - Graphics Cards 99
Click on the thumbnails for the rest of the frame.

Now this is something of a revelation to me. I have always gone under the assumption that ATI always had the superior video-input processing. But as you can see from the above images, the frame produced by the Asus Radeon 9800XT is probably the worst compared to the original frame. The ATI/Asus card appears to have shrunk the frame along the Y-axis and stretched the frame along the X-axis. As a result, the people look shorter and fatter. The FX5600 on the other hand produces an image that’s identical in proportion to the original frame.

When looking at the color, it appears that the ATI is darker than the original and there appears to be less highlighting. This isn’t such a big concern as this can be adjusted through the brightness/contrast/hue sliders on the driver. Both the Radeon 9800XT and FX5600 suffer from poor definition because of the analog digitization method.

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