A little while ago we posted an in-depth review of the Tyan Tachyon G9500 PRO graphics card. It scored excellent marks due to its high performance, high production quality as well as hardware monitoring and cooling control systems. However, the lifetime of the RADEON 9500 PRO graphics chip turned to be very short. Right now ATI is winding up its R300 manufacture, and offers advanced and low-cost graphics processors: R350 and RV350.
RV350 is exactly aimed at the price niche which used to be occupied by ATI’s R300-based cards: RADEON 9500 and 9500 PRO. Unlike its predecessor, RV350 is made with a finer 0.13micron, manufacturing technology. This helps it to work at higher frequencies while producing less heat. On the other hand, this chip contains only four rendering pipelines against eight in the original R300, which quite naturally leads to lower performance in a variety of tasks. Of course, its higher clock-rate may make up for it and even bridge the gap altogether. That’s what we are going to check out in this review. Right now, let’s get acquainted with the list of RV350 features.
- Graphics chip code-name: RV350;
- Manufacturing technology: 0.13 micron;
- Number of transistors: 75 million;
- Frequencies: 400MHz and 325MHz for RADEON 9600 PRO and 9600, respectively;
- Pipeline formula: 4 pipelines with 1 TMU per each;
- Memory interface: 128-bit DDR;
- Memory frequency: 600MHz and 400MHz;
- RAMDACs: two 400MHz ones, 10 bit per channel;
- Integrated TMDS transmitter;
- Interface: AGP 8x/4x;
- ATI SMARTSHADER 2.0 support;
- ATI SMOOTHVISION 2.1 support (the memory communication mechanism is improved for higher performance in hard working modes);
- Somewhat simplified ATI HyperZ III technology;
- ATI VIDEOSHADER technology support.
So, today we are going to talk about a mass-market graphics card compatible with DirectX 9.0 – RADEON 9600 PRO. We received a graphics card from Tyan, a well-known server equipment manufacturer and a partner of ATI Technologies. The name of the card is Tachyon G9600 PRO.
We have got a full box version of this product. Among the accessories I found a usual set of cables and adapters for cards based on ATI chips. There was also a user manual, a CD with drivers and the Tyan Tachyon G9600 PRO card itself. The box of Tyan Tachyon G9600 PRO is quite picturesque: dark shades of blue and purple. The picture on it makes one think about cyborgs and the like; I’m not sure if it’s somehow connected with the Terminator movie :).
When I took the card into my hands, I experienced a kind of dйjа vu: it looks just like Tyan Tachyon G9500 PRO. The new card is made on an azure-colored PCB and boasts a massive cooling system. The cooling solution comes from Thermaltake that actually ships coolers for all reference cards from ATI. Compared to this monster, the cooler on Tyan Tachyon G9500 PRO looks humble and small :). As for the PCB design, it is original and differs greatly from ATI’s reference board.
For example, the card has no wiring for a VIVO + DVI-I daughter card. This space is now given to a Rage Theater 200 chip. The back side of the PCB contains chips for hardware monitoring of temperatures and voltages and control of the fan rotation speed.
RADEON 9600 PRO doesn’t require additional power supply, so there is no such connector. Interestingly, this product may come with two DVI-I connectors, as we can guess from the PCB payout, although our sample had only one. Note also that the impressive-looking cooler cools down only the graphics chip (that has no protective metal frame, by the way), but not the memory chips. There is a thermal interface between the chips and the heatsink – lozenges of some soft, rubber-like material – but you can see a gap in-between. Air is no good heat transporter and no effective cooler. The working frequencies of the card are standard: 400MHz for the chip and 300MHz (600MHz DDR) for the memory. The placement of memory chips resembles that on RADEON 9700 PRO based cards, but here the memory bus is 128-bit wide. The chips come from Hynix and have 3.6ns access time. It’s rather strange that Tyan decided to use such slow memory and even overclocked it above the nominal (600MHz against the nominal 550MHz). On the one hand, it is not very typical of a respectable company to overclock its own products, but on the other hand, Tyan is unlikely to roll out a potentially unreliable card.