S3 DeltaChrome S8 Nitro arrived in our lab in a neat black box with S3 Graphics logo on it. Besides the card there was also a CD-disk with the drivers and other info, as well as a converter, which allows connecting HDTV devices to the card, such as plasma screens, projector-TVs, other display devices supporting this format.
I was pretty surprised to find out that S3 DeltaChrome S8 Nitro is an exact copy of its younger brother: S3 DeltaChrome S8 based graphics card.
The only remarkable difference appeared the absence of the second cooler power supply connector, a few new stickers on both sides of the PCB and a more compact cooling solution. This time our test sample featured a cooler looking very similar to Thermaltake Blue Orb, though it featured a slightly different ribs configuration and was painted black. I couldn’t remove it without applying some extra efforts, so I decided to leave it alone fearing to damage the VPU. These are the only differences we discovered between the new S3 DeltaChrome S8 Nitro and the other DeltaChrome sample we had at our disposal.
The 8 memory chips installed on the card PCB are manufactured by Samsung and marked as K4D26323E-GC2A, which means that they boast 2.8ns access time and work at 350MHz (700MHz DDR) frequency. Nevertheless, the memory actually works at 325MHz (650MHz DDR). The graphics processor also works at 325MHz frequency. These are far not the highest working speeds for the final S3 DeltaChrome S8 Nitro solutions. S3 representative claims that the card can work at much higher rates, although they decided to lock the clock rate at 325MHz to ensure maximum stability oft heir product.
When we installed the graphics card into our system we discovered that the new S3 solution works equally well with and without the connected power supply cable, just like the pervious S3 product. The new card generates somewhat less noise than the predecessor, at least this is my subjective observation. The memory chips do not require any additional cooling and the graphics core heats up just a little bit, just like in the non-Nitro version of the card.
All in all, the PCB looks pretty finalized, though I would consider it a bit too large for a mainstream product. Anyway, it doesn’t make sense to discuss this issue, as we are testing an engineering sample and not a mass production one. Maybe the final version of this product will be deprived of the useless power supply connector and the PCB will grow smaller, but it doesn’t depend only on S3 Graphics, but also on the graphics card manufacturers, who will be offering S3 DeltaChrome S8 Nitro based products. Some of them may wish to introduce their own PCB design, although this is getting rarer nowadays.