Finally we get to jump on the bandwagon with the biggest of the bad-ass gamers video cards on the market today. Our little gem came straight from the gal's over at Elsa. That's right, the Erazor X2'd. The double data rate SDRAM version of nVidia's latest release of chipsets. Lots of things have hit the net since it's press release. Everyone was stoked at the promise of the new hardware T&L theory. Better lighting, higher frame rates, better looking textures without loss of playability and speed....the list goes on. Lately we have seen that what was hyped is not to be, at least not as much as they led us to believe anyway.
Our bud Kyle of [H]OCP fame took this arena to a new level of discussion in his quest to prove or disprove the whole hardware T&L thing. I will delve into that somewhat, but I think the entire mess has been overdone. What I want to do here is show that this card despite it's inability to live completely up to it's promised spec's, is still one of the most kick ass, in yo' face graphics accelerators to be had so far this year. Of course, with the way the market is advancing, tomorrow may be a different story...
Without trying to bore you all to
death with lots of crap discussions, or information that you have seen on all
the other major sites, I will try and keep this objective at the same time
trimming the fat so to speak. What we have here is a retail video card like any
other AGP. Mine came with TV out in the form of S-Video. Nice feature I have yet
to use, my Viper V550 came with one as well that never saw playtime.
Onboard memory comes in the form of 32mb of Double
Data Rate SDRAM, 8 each of 4mb chips. They are on both sides of the card, making
the addition of RAM heatsinks a breeze due to the added breathing room around
the chips. I have yet to do that however, still looking for the right heatsink
to Dremel into pieces. The heatsink and fan that sits atop the graphics chip
however leaves a bit to be desired. It looked cool enough when I pulled it from
the anti-static bag, but after staring at it for a few minutes, I started to see
that there was not a lot of heatsink surface area or fins to dissipate heat
I figured no problem; it was a good try and should be decent enough for basic preliminary test runs. Well, after about a week, the fan on the sink started to make a lot of noise! I wasn't getting any lockups because of heat build-up, but that was still uncalled for. So what was done to resolve this? Like you had to ask, I RIPPED THE DAMN THING OFF! Funny thing I saw under said heatsink/fan. You know that beige thermal epoxy that they cement these things on with? Well, there was a lot of it on the chip, but only on about 25% of the actual surface, and thick as hell too. I am sorry, but that is just plain inexcusable. How in the world that was supposed to be an effective thermal transfer I have no idea. Then again, I am no engineer either, so if someone can prove me wrong, by all means please do so.
Enough bitching already, lets get down to real world performance. As far as installing goes, no frills here. Of course they are kind peep's over at Elsa, and they sent a CD loaded with drivers and utilities for the card. Also included is a Demo CD with a bunch of decent demo games and benchmarks. Some of them had a decent fun factor, but nothing to waste your time with. The card ran in Windows 2000 Advanced Server, Windows Millenium, and for stable benchmarking and gaming scores Windows 98SE. With all those OS's under its belt, it is a versatile card. Never had an issue one with drivers etc. Although on anything other than 98SE, gaming and benchmarks are affected due to low support by the OS so I ran all test shown here on that platform.
As for handling high
bus speeds and elevated AGP speeds associated with them, this card hangs in
there pretty damn good! Like many of you as of late, I ran out when I saw Kyle
and his buds at Azzo get the new PIII 550e up to amazing speeds right out of the
I used an AOpen AX6BC Pro Millennium Edition for
testing purposes with some new PC133 RAM to handle the higher bus. I wasn't too
hyped at the idea at first; you see the BX chipset allows for 1/1 or 2/3 AGP
ratios of the FSB. Even at 2/3 AGP ratio on a 133mhz or higher FSB will lock
most video cards, and a 1/1 is not even happening. The board supports 1x and 2x
AGP, so that throws some interesting numbers into the mix. Like Kyle, I was able
to get to 153mhz on the FSB, but the card didn't like that at all. It was fine
in Windows, but open a graphics app or game, see ya! So I stepped it down to
148mhz, IT LIVES!!!
At 2/3 AGP ratio on the 148 side, that
gives us an effective speed of 97.68mhz. How many AGP cards do you know that
will handle that? Not to mention with AGP 2x in effect, that theoretically would
give us 195.36mhz, which is probably a load of crap but it looks neat! Why am I
telling you all this? Well as you know, with increased AGP operating speeds and
bandwidth, there is a direct correlation to frame rates. I threw this in the
review because a lot of cards out there now would choke like a stuck pig at
these AGP speeds. Once I let you see the benchmarks, you will know why the
increased bus speed and bandwidth are something to drool over. With that said,
lets get moving' on to the numbers shall we...