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Gigabyte
MAYA AP128D-H3 RADEON 8500 Deluxe Video Card Review

July 19, 2002



CONTENTS

  1. Peculiarities of the video card
  2. Test conditions and drivers, 2D estimation
  3. Performance results of such cards taken from the 3Digest
  4. Conclusion

No sooner had we finished studying the RADEON 8500 based cards waiting for new solutions from ATI than... Of course, the MAYA tribes were always unpredictable, that is why they vanished completely, though one of the descendants intruded into Gigabyte which is currently heading to bringing together North Canada and South America, though it is located on Taiwan. Certainly, the continents won't move, the point is that the Canadian company ATI Technologies almost a year after the release of the RADEON 8500 reached the level of 300 MHz on the GPU. Such chips were immediately taken by the Taiwanese firm Gigabyte for production of Hign-End solutions named MAYA. The 3Digest shows that the ATI's High-End solution is less speedier than the NVIDIA's one (GeForce4 Ti 4600), but we should account for anisotropy and its speed (and its lower quality from ATI). It's time to give you a list of reviews where you can get detailed information on all aspects of operation of the RADEON 8500.

Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards which concern functional properties of the ATI RADEON 8500/7500 GPU

So, Gigabyte is the only one among ATI's partners that released the most powerful for today RADEON 8500 based card. Some 275 MHz cards could also be overclocked up to such speeds (300/300 (600)), but there is only 5% of those who are fond of overclocking; the rest are interested in the rated frequencies or just want to have an efficient 3D card.

So, today we will examine such card - Gigabyte MAYA AP128D-H3 RADEON 8500 Deluxe 300/600 MHz,128 MBytes. The H3 suffix mean the increased frequencies.

Card

The card has an AGP x2/x4 interface, 128 MBytes DDR SGRAM located in 8 chips on both sides of the PCB.

Gigabyte MAYA AP128D-H3 RADEON 8500 Deluxe 300/600 MHz,128 MBytes


Gigabyte MAYA AP128D-H3 RADEON 8500 Deluxe 300/600 MHz,128 MBytes
The card comes with Hynix memory modules of 3.3ns access time which corresponds to 300 (600) MHz, at which the memory works. The GPU is also clocked at 300 MHz.


Comparison with the reference design, front view
Gigabyte MAYA AP128D-H3 RADEON 8500 Deluxe 300/600 MHz,128 MBytes Reference card ATI RADEON 8500 128 MBytes


Comparison with the reference design, back view
Gigabyte MAYA AP128D-H3 RADEON 8500 Deluxe 300/600 MHz,128 MBytes Reference card ATI RADEON 8500 128 MBytes

The Gigabyte's solution differs considerably from the reference design. First of all, it's connected with the hardware monitoring of the card's status. Besides, it supports VIVO (Video In, Video Out), but it is backed by the well-known RAGE Theater.

Gigabyte MAYA AP128D-H3 RADEON 8500 Deluxe 300/600 MHz,128 MBytes Gigabyte MAYA AP128DG-H RADEON 8500 Deluxe 275/550 MHz,128 MBytes

We compared these coprocessors which are delivered with the cards without VIVO (on the right) and with VIVO (on the left) and saw there was no difference between them. That is why I'm sure lack of the VIVO on the RADEON 8500 is just a marketing trick of ATI that does not want to spoil sales of the AiW R8500DV series. And if the engineers from Gigabyte managed to realize the VIVO easily, others will be able to do the same. It's also considered that with a new BIOS version and an adapter-splitter the VIVO will be able to work on most RADEON 8500 based cards (but this is only an assumption because the PCB of this card differs much from the reference one, and maybe the VIVO is partially guilty of such redesigning).

The card comes with two adapters-slitters. The first one is meant right for VIVO:

The second is for TV-out

The VIVO is backed by the WDM capture drivers from ATI and CyberLink PowerDirector. I must say such new shape of the Video In is recognized only by the latest version of the ATI Multimedia Center.

Look at the cooling system the card comes with.

Gigabyte MAYA AP128D-H3 RADEON 8500 Deluxe 300/600 MHz,128 MBytes
We have already seen such cooling system, which looks like a sandwich with two heatsinks, on a similar card from Gigabyte but with 64 MBytes and working at 275/550 MHz.

The fan is shifted upward from the center of the chipset, that is why cooling of the latter is more effective. However, the GPU heats up much and the heat is delivered to the whole heatsink. And even after working with an additional fan inside the system unit the card is very hot. The same concerns the small heatsink on the back.

As for disadvantages, it is quite difficult to match such heatsink - it must have an ideally smooth surface (our sample has a spot of the glue, and its shape indicates where the contact between the heatsink and the chip is lacking). Besides, installation of such device on only three clips can bring to distortion of such construction and losing contact with the memory chips.

Here is the source of 3D power - GPU RADEON 8500:

This is an ordinary chip without any indication that it is able to work at 300 MHz.

Such high frequencies make the card too hot. That is why the V-Tuner utility for Hardware Monitoring plays an important role:

After installation of this program you will notice an icon which activates the settings manager.

The card has DVI and d-Sub connectors and an S-Video one for TV-out/VIVO.

Now let's pop into the box and see what's here.

Gigabyte MAYA AP128D-H3 RADEON 8500 Deluxe 300/600 MHz,128 MBytes
This is a real casket with treasure :-). We have here a lot of CDs with games, CDs with VIVO's software and drivers, souvenirs, adapters-splitters, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter.

And what about the box?

Gigabyte MAYA AP128D-H3 RADEON 8500 Deluxe 300/600 MHz,128 MBytes
The box is of the traditional design (we have already seen it in case of the card working at 275 MHz) - it is made in the Gothic style with mysterious beings of the Maya's times.

That's all about peculiarities of the card.

Overclocking

Gigabyte MAYA AP128D-H3 RADEON 8500 Deluxe 300/600 MHz,128 MBytes
300/600 -> 308/610 MHz

The strong heat-up of the card doesn't allow for any decent overclocking, however, the chip is already overclocked. The memory overheats because of such solid heatsink.

Note:

  • in course of overclocking you must provide additional cooling, in particular, for the card (first of all, for its memory):

  • overclocking depends on a definite sample, and you shouldn't generalize the results of one card to all video cards of this mark or series. The overclocking results are not the obligatory characteristics of a video card.

The "Note" above is brought into each article so that you understand that overclocking is not a rated mode, and you should protect your card from early damages.

Test system and drivers

Taking into consideration that we have studied almost all aspects of operation of such cards in 3D it's unnecessary to "load" you with the same measurement results. Besides, our 3Digest gives a complete idea on performance of such cards in comparison to many others. That is why I recommend that you read the above material, and certain links will be given below. Testbeds:

  • Pentium 4 2200 MHz based computer:
    • Intel Pentium 4 2200 (L2=512K);
    • ASUS P4T-E (i850) mainboard;
    • 512 MBytes RDRAM PC800;
    • Quantum FB AS 20 GBytes;
    • Windows XP.

  • Athlon XP 1666 MHz (2000+) based computer:
    • AMD Athlon XP 2000+
    • EPoX 8KHA+ (VIA KT266A) mainboard;
    • 512 MBytes DDR SDRAM PC2100;
    • Fujitsu 20 GBytes;
    • Windows XP.

The test systems were coupled with ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors.

In the tests we used ATI Catalyst drivers 6.094. VSync was off, S3TC was off.

Test results

Before we start examining 2D quality I should say that there is no a complete technique of objective estimation of this parameter because:

  1. Almost all modern 3D accelerators can have 2D quality much dependent on a certain sample, and it's impossible to trace all cards;
  2. 2D quality depends not only on a video card, but also on a monitor and a cable;
  3. Besides, certain monitors do not get along with certain video cards.

As for the tested samples, together with the ViewSonic P817 monitor and BNC Bargo cable the cards showed excellent quality at the following resolutions and frequencies:

Gigabyte MAYA AP128D-H3 RADEON 8500 Deluxe 300/600 MHz,128 MBytes DDR
1600x1200x85 Hz, 1280x1024x100 Hz, 1024x768x120 Hz

For estimation of 3D performance we used:

  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein (MultiPlayer) (id Software/Activision) - OpenGL, multitexturing, Checkpoint-demo, test settings - maximum, S3TC OFF, the configurations can be downloaded from here
  • Testing order: enable the console with the '~' button and type:

    timedemo 1 (press Enter)
    demo checkpoint (press Enter)

  • 3DMark2001 SE Pro (MadOnion/Remedy), Game2 "Dragothic" - DirectX 8.0, Hardware TCL, multitexturing, LOW Details, DXTC OFF, double buffering, 24-bit Z-buffer
  • Testing order:

    through the 3DMark2001 menu of settings using the Batch mode

  • Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v.1.05 (Croteam/GodGames) - OpenGL, multitexturing, Grand Cathedral demo, test settings: quality, S3TC OFF
  • Testing order: enable the console with the '~' button and type:

    dem_bProfile=1 (press Enter)
    start up Grand Cathedral demo from the menu

  • Quake3 Arena v.1.17 (id Software/Activision) - OpenGL, multitexturing, Quaver, test settings are maximum: detail level - High, texture detailing level - #4, S3TC OFF, smoothness of curved surfaces is greatly increased with variables r_subdivisions "1" and r_lodCurveError "30000" (at default r_lodCurveError is 250 !), the configurations can be downloaded from here

  • 3DMark2001 Pro (MadOnion/Remedy) - DirectX 8.0, Hardware TCL, Game1, Game2, Game3, Game4, Low, High detail levels

  • Comanche4 Benchmark Demo (NovaLogic) - Direct3D, Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, highest quality
  • Testing order: start up the game the following way:

    c4demo.exe /advbench fps.txt 1024 32 noaudio nct dx7 (press Enter)

  • Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo v.927 (Digital Extreme/Epic Games) - Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality
  • Testing order: run benchmark.bat from the folder System of the game changing only the resolution.

  • RightMark Video Analyzer v.0.4 (Philip Gerasimov) - DirectX 8.1, Dot3, cube texturing, shadow buffers, vertex and pixel shaders (1.1, 1.4).
  • Test settings: pixel shaders 1.1, shadow buffers OFF.

The overclocked cards are marked with red color, the sign o/c (overclocked) is followed by the frequencies reached.

Conclusion

So, we have examined the fastest card for today based on the ATI RADEON 8500. Soon it will fade out on the background of the shining R300, but cards on this processor will appear on the market not sooner than October. That is why the flagship of the graphics processors from ATI will have enough time to hold the steering wheel.

Still, Gigabyte made an ambiguous step releasing such product on the threshold of the new GPU. Such card is expected at about $250, and does it make sense to pay such sum for a card power of which is lower than the average GeForce4 Ti - Ti 4400 - which is cheaper than $250? I think it does. Why? The anisotropy speed of the RADEON 8500 is still much higher despite some problems with quality of this function (and who is going to play today without this filtering enabled?). Secondly, the card has VIVO realized with the RAGE Theater which provides the best quality among similar functions of the non-professional class, and the Hardware Monitoring. Thirdly,... just because this is a rarity. I think such cards will be in short supply.

In our 3Digest you can find complete comparison characteristics of video cards of this and other classes.

Highs:

  • Very good performance of the Gigabyte MAYA AP128D-H3 RADEON 8500 Deluxe 300/600 MHz,128 MBytes in modern 3D games;
  • High quality of the tested sample and the highest frequencies among such cards;
  • Unique design and Hardware Monitoring support;
  • Excellent set of accessories with all necessary adapters (I just wish the games were newer);
  • Second RAMDAC provides a normal dual-monitor support;
  • Nice 2D quality;

Lows:

  • Too high temperature mode of the card because of the shared heatsink for the chip and memory;
  • Unavailable on the market (for July 2002).

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