Before we take a closer look at several SUMA graphics cards we got at our disposal, we would like to say a few words about this Korean company. The matter is that SUMA has been unknown to most of our readers as long as it used to focus only on its domestic Korean market.
Founded in December 1998, SUMA addressed itself to developing and manufacturing graphics cards. Its first card was EMPIRE Flasher based on 3dfx Banshee chipset. By the by, this card remains the only one based on a non- NVIDIA chipset throughout the company's entire history. Later SUMA succeeded in getting NVIDIA as a partner and became one of the few who might correct the cards' reference design, which is pretty rare thing nowadays. As it kept on growing, SUMA started manufacturing other products apart from graphics cards. Among them, there are MP3 players, web-cameras, HDTV cards, LCD displays and even DVD players. This illustration will help you to grasp the whole range of SUMA products:
Lately SUMA cares for expanding the horizon of its sales market by penetrating into American and European markets. SUMA products are likely to become popular as they stand out for some unique features that will be discussed later in the review.
For this review we took three graphics cards based on NVIDIA GeForce2 GTS:
- SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS SE 64MB
- SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS 64MB
- SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS 32MB
SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS SE 64MB
The card's textolite is of non-standard black color and combined with silver marking it makes the card stylish-looking and easy to recognize. The main point that distinguishes Platinum GeForce2 GTS SE 64MB from all other cards from Platinum GeForce2 GTS family is AGP Pro interface. AGP Pro is an ordinary AGP extension commonly used to maximize the stability of power-hungry graphics cards. This can be achieved by a stable supply of more power to additional pins. That's why an AGP Pro slot is wider than a standard AGP. However don't fall in despair if you don't have an AGP Pro slot on your mainboard (and in fact, there are very few boards with this slot available): SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS SE 64MB works well in a standard AGP slot, too.
The card has a full set of output ports: a D-Sub, a DVI and a TV-Out provided by a daughter card based on CHRONTEL chip. This Out provides connection to a TV-set via S-Video In.
The graphics card is equipped with 64MB memory by Hyundai with 5.5ns of access time. The memory specification implies that it should work at the frequency of 366MHz, although NVIDIA requires 333MHz (6ns) memory for the cards based on GeForce2 GTS. But SUMA was smart enough to use a faster memory on this card and thus made its SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS SE 64MB provide a noticeable performance gain.
Among the peculiarities of this card we can name a big aluminum heatsink installed on the graphics chipset (you can see it on the photo of the card) with a comparatively small cooler. Nonetheless, this cooling system suffices to cool down the graphics chipset working even at the frequencies exceeding the nominal ones quite significantly.
We also wish to highlight huge electronic components used in ?? SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS SE 64MB: most of them are capacitors. Instead of ordinary tiny box-free capacitors, this card features bigger ones that are boxed. Presumably, this helps to reduce electromagnetic interference and to increase the card's stability when working.
SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS 64MB
The card is assembled on a regular green textolite plate and has a standard layout for cards based on NVIDIA GeForce2 GTS. It features an AGP Pro slot and has no extra functions: there are no DVI or S-Video Outs. SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS 64MB is equipped with 64MB of DDR SDRAM memory by HYUNDAI with 6ns access time working at a default frequency of 333MHz.
This graphics card is provided with a huge heatsink and a small cooler that is similar to the above mentioned one. It also features box capacitors of a relatively big size.
SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS 32MB
This graphics card is also based on green textolite and sticks to the reference design completely. It has the same gigantic heatsink with a small cooler.
But the memory is absolutely different! This graphics card is equipped with 32MB SGRAM by Samsung with 6ns access time. It is a notable fact as all other 32MB GeForce2 GTS cards feature 6ns Infineon memory, which is hardly well-overclockable. A bit later we'll see how Samsung memory has told on overclocking results.
SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS 32 MB features tinier capacitors than the previous two review participants. Capacitors of this kind are usually used in most graphics cards based on GeForce2 GTS.
2D quality of this card was no lower than that of the already described 64MB models.
All SUMA Platinum graphics cards are shipped in nicely looking originally designed plastic boxes.
Unlike the cards of other brand manufacturers, these graphics cards are made in Korea. Besides the cards, the packages include a CD with the required drivers and a brief user's manual. And SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS SE 64 MB is shipped with a CD with a software DVD player VaroDVD and its demo.
Drivers, which go together with SUMA Platinum graphics cards, are very much similar to regular Detonator 6.18 reference drivers.
No wonder, there is nothing new about their functions. SUMA's software engineers didn't take the pains to create any extra utilities or the like.
The only point that makes these drivers different from the reference version is an identification line available in Device Manager.
To test SUMA Platinum graphics cards we used the following testbed:
- Intel Pentium III 866MHz CPU;
- ASUS CUSL2 mainboard;
- 256?B (2 modules x 128MB) PC133 SDRAM by Hyundai;
- IBM DTLA-305020 HDD.
We tested the cards under Microsoft WINDOWS 98 and used NVIDIA Detonator 6.35 reference drivers.
For a better comparison we also took the performance of the following products:
- NVIDIA GeForce2 GTS with 64?B of graphics memory (ASUS AGP-V7700 64MB);
- NVIDIA GeForce2 Pro (ASUS AGP-V7770 64MB working at 200/400MHz).
We used the following testing tools:
- Quake3 Arena v1.16n (demo001, quaver);
- 3DMark2000 Pro v 1.1.
We tried to overclock really hard all the tested graphics cards. On the whole, the cards from SUMA Platinum family proved highly overclockable.
However, SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS SE 64MB with the fastest memory of all the tested samples (5.5ns) failed to turn up to our expectations. The statistics show that HYUNDAI memory can in most cases work at far greater frequencies than those announced in the specs. Being fully aware of the fact, we expected SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS SE 64MB to overclock up to the level of NVIDIA GeForce2 Pro and perhaps even NVIDIA GeForce2 Ultra. But the card's performance was stable only at the frequencies lower than the expected ones. The chip allowed the maximum of 235MHz and the memory only 395MHz. If we compare SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS SE 64MB top overclocking frequencies with those of ABIT Siluro GeForce2 256GF GTS, we'll see that the latter has better results, although it is equipped with slower memory. But still the received 235/395MHz are quite a good result because even with the memory working at 5MHz lower frequency, SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS SE 64MB may overtake NVIDIA GeForce2 Pro when overclocked thanks to its faster core. It's feasible that the card's overclockability is limited by the card's additional features, i.e. by DVI and TV-Outs.
The other two SUMA Platinum graphics cards (64MB and 32MB models with standard functions only) showed identical results during overclocking and worked well at 220/415 MHz in spite of differences in design and memory modules (6ns Hyundai DDR SDRAM and 6ns Samsung DDR SGRAM respectively). The result is really good, especially since these cards demonstrate better overclockability than SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS SE 64MB with comparatively faster memory. The thing that different memory modules on these two cards (6ns Hyundai DDR SDRAM and 6ns Samsung DDR SGRAM) could work at the same frequencies let us conclude that the overclockability of Samsung memory is as good as that of Hyundai memory, which is the most overclocking friendly memory today. By the way, 6ns DDR SGRAM from Infenion, which is typical of most GeForce2 GTS 32MB graphics cards, has a top rate of 385MHz, while the card with 6ns DDR SGRAM from Samsung achieved 415MHz memory frequency.
We also made all our testing participants work in a system built on i440BX based mainboard, which let us check their ability to work in case of non-standard AGP bus frequencies. The performance of all the tested SUMA Platinum graphics cards was stable at up to 100MHz AGP frequency (while the FSB was up to 150MHz).
We first tested in Quake3 Arena with demo001.
As you can see, SUMA Platinum graphics cards proved standard representatives of this product class. The only exception was SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS SE 64MB. As long as the card has a non-standard default speed - 200/366MHz compared to the regular 200/333MHz - its performance is a bit better. However, despite this fact it was left behind by SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS 64MB and SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS 32MB in almost all resolutions.
These results were received in Quake3 Arena quaver demo:
The situation is practically the same; the results of SUMA Platinum family are adequate enough for cards based on NVIDIA GeForce2 GTS core. Naturally, Platinum GeForce2 GTS SE 64MB shows a bit better results than other cards do, as this card's memory is 33MHz faster. Moreover, you can see on the diagram that graphics cards with 64MB memory are somewhat faster than their 32MB brothers.
However, differences in performance become obvious only in 32-bit color mode at over-1024x768 resolution.
In SUMA Platinum GeForce2 family the company has revealed all the advantages of a non-standard approach to developing graphics cards. The family is lucky to offer graphics cards of a wide function and price range - from the advanced SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS SE 64MB to the simplest and the cheapest SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS 32MB. Unlike the products of most brand manufacturers, all SUMA cards are assembled in Korea. That ensures high 2D quality and reliability. And overclockers will be happy to see SUMA Platinum GeForce2 GTS 32MB hit the tops that used to be reached only on 64MB cards.