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Chaintech A-G320
GeForce3 Ti 200 Video Card Review

December 25, 2001



In the previous article of Palit Daytona GeForce3 Ti 200 I wrote a little on the competition of NVIDIA and ATI. Taking into account that RADEON 8500LE based cards are very strong competitors against GeForce3 Ti 200 cards such a confrontation may have a great effect on the alignment of forces on the market.

While production of video cards on even the weakest chip of the GeForce3 Titanium series is very beneficial for card makers, such cards will force out older and more expensive GeForce3 ones. But such a triumphal procession has some obstacles because of the RADEON 8500LE. What advantages do these cards have? First of all, their excellent quality because all ATI cards currently sold by the partners are produced at the same plant and are complete copies of one another. Hence high 2D quality. Secondly, an advanced TV-out (it is obligatory for all ATI cards). At last, a little better performance in most of cases than that of the GeForce3 Ti 200 cards. Although the latter ones have a good overclocking potential, it's only 5% of users that practice overclocking.

RADEON 8500 cards do have some drawbacks in the software part. However, NVIDIA has also made every effort to undermine "authority" of their direct drivers. First, they damaged 21.81, then they released a buggy v23.11. But, you still can use previous versions which work quite stable (such as 21.85 and 21.88).

That is why RADEON 8500LE card may become even more popular than the NVIDIA's ones. Although Ti 200 are going down in prices, today brand name cards on these processors cost more than RADEON 8500LE ones. The disadvantage of ATI is that its cards are much less in number than those from NVIDIA. Besides, the latter ones have a great deal of variations (with VIVO, with TV-out, with DVI, with monitoring etc.) A user can get a card without certain functions if he doesn't need them, thus, saving some money. For example, if you don't want TV-out, you can get a Palit GF3 Ti200 without it and it will be cheaper than the RADEON 8500LE. That is why Ti 200 cards do not fall into disfavor. And a competition inside the Ti 200 family makes for further price cuts.

Today I'm going to introduce Chaintech A-G320 GeForce3 Ti 200 video card, and as usual, I should remind you that the whole theoretical base connected with the GeForce3 is concentrated in the following articles (here you can also learn the peculiarities of certain cards and find out how they operate in the latest benchmark tests).

As it always happens, this Chaintech card follows the reference design but it is still has a yellow color of the textolite.

Card

The Chaintech A-G320 GeForce3 Ti 200 has an AGP x2/x4 interface, 64 MB DDR SDRAM located in 8 chips on the right side of the PCB.

The card has memory modules from ESMT (EliteMT) with a 4 ns access time which corresponds to 250 (500) MHz. The memory works at 200 (400) MHz according to the specification. Heatsinks on the memory and such a famous trade mark as ESMT can help along with decent overclocking results, i.e. the card should perform very close to the GeForce3 Ti 500 - 250 (500) MHz.

In the Titanium review and in the following materials we showed that Ti 200/500 based cards and GeForce3 ones differ in design. Let's take a look at the design of the Chaintech A-G320 GeForce3 Ti 200 and compare it with the reference one from NVIDIA:

Chaintech A-G320 GeForce3 Ti 200

NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 200 reference card

As you can see, the design is identical to the reference one. On the one hand, we can be sure in stable and reliable operation of the card, but on the other hand, it would hardly please overclockers as the design of the Ti 200 doesn't provide for a considerable overclocking of the memory (not more than by 40-50 MHz). But as you know, overclocking is mainly dependent on the CPU potential and not much on the memory.

The card looks like a parrot :) Its PCB is dark yellow, and heatsinks and a central cooler are bright blue.

Design of the cooler is quite effective, and we saw an identical device on the cards which heat up greater (for example, on the MSI G3TI500-Pro VTG based on the GeForce3 Ti 500). ASUSTeK cards also have a very similar cooler. A central heatsink and side memory's ones are not connected.

But however efficient a cooler may be, if you are going to overclock the chip, you should fetch a more powerful cooler or provide additional cooling:

Above all, the Chaintech A-G320 GeForce3 Ti 200 has both TV-out and DVI.

The card ships in a Retail package.

Accessories:

  • User Manual;
  • CD with software and utilities.

At present the managers are working on a set of accessories, that is why in the near future these cards will probably be supplied with a rich set of additional stuff including modern games.

Overclocking

The Chaintech A-G320 GeForce3 Ti 200 (DVI) holds a record in the chip frequencies " 230/260 (520) MHz. At least, it yields to the Ti 500 only by 10 MHz, while it sweeps the field as far as memory is concerned, that is why I hope in high resolutions the performance of the overclocked card will go on a par with Ti 500 cards.

It is already the second card which costs $180-200 and can perform not worse than a Ti 500 based one!

Note:

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

Test system and drivers

Test system:

  • Pentium4 get-up (Socket 478):
    • Intel Pentium 4 2100;
    • ASUS P4T-E (i850) mainboard;
    • 512 MB RDRAM PC800;
    • Quantum FB AS HDD, 20 GBytes;
    • ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors;
    • Windows ME.

In the tests we used NVIDIA drivers of v.21.85. VSync was off, S3TC was on.

For the comparative analyses we used the following cards:

  • Reference card NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 200 (175/200 (400) MHz, 64 MBytes);
  • Reference card NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 500 (240/250 (500) MHz, 64 MBytes);
  • ATI RADEON 8500 (RADEON 8500, 275/275 (550) MHz, 64 MBytes, driver 7.206)
  • Manli RADEON 8500 (RADEON 8500 LE, 250/250 (500) MHz, 64 MBytes, driver 7.206).

Test results

2D quality of the card is very good. The image was excellent even in 1600x1200 at 85 Hz. But bear in mind that 2D quality much depends on a sample of the card and on its friendliness towards a monitor.

For estimation of 3D quality we used:

  • Quake3 Arena v.1.17 (id Software/Activision) " a game test which demonstrates operation of a card in OpenGL with a standard demo benchmark demo002 and Quaver.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein (id Software) " a game test which demonstrates operation of a card in OpenGL with our demo benchmark ixbtdemo.

Quake3 Arena

Quaver, High Quality Modes

The test was carried out in 32-bit color mode at the highest detailing level and with complicated geometry (r_subdivisions "1" r_lodCurveError "30000"). This benchmark loads an accelerator with geometry, large textures and huge effects.

This test showed that the Chaintech A-G320 GeForce3 Ti 200 performs very close to the ATI RADEON 8500LE and fights as equals with the NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 200 reference card. As we expected, when overclocked, this card is able to reach the level of the NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 500.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Multiplayer)

ixbtdemo, High Quality Modes

The tests were carried out in 32-bit color mode at the highest detailing and quality level of textures.

Like in the previous test, the Chaintech card goes on a par with the reference one and, when overcloked, with the NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 500. The ATI cards have also brilliant results leaving the Ti 200 far behind. But I must say that they worked on the ATI's v7.206 drivers. The newer versions - 9.003 and 9.005 slowed down the RADEON 8500 considerably. See our December 3Digest for details.

We wrote about anisotropic filtering in the OpenGL of the GeForce3 cards many times, and each time we fixed a considerable performance drop when this function was enabled, especially in higher modes (Level4 and 8). Look at the diagram above. The decrease is almost 50% at the 8th anisotropy degree. But with the overclocked card in the single player mode you don't need hundreds of FPS, and even at the 8th degree you can play rather comfortably (it should be noted that quality of the graphics wasn't maximum when we took measurements).

In closing, I'd like to advise you to read also other reviews of GeForce3 based video cards. Besides, in our 3Digest you can get thorough information on performance of these cards on different platforms.

Conclusion

We have examined one more production card on the GeForce3 Ti 200. It costs almost the same as the Palit Daytona GeForce3 Ti 200 which we studied a short time ago, but it is bundled with excellent possibilities, first of all, meant for good overclocking. Here we have a 4ns memory, heatsinks and perfect quality of production of the card. A set of accessories is not rich but I expect it to expand very soon.

  1. Chaintech A-G320 GeForce3 Ti 200 conforms to all parameters of the reference card.
  2. With regard to its overclocking potential some samples can become the most powerful accelerators for today reaching the level of the GeForce3 Ti 500.
  3. The sample we tested has excellent 2D quality.

The complete characteristics of video cards of this and other classes can be found in our 3Digest.

Highs:

  • Excellent performance in 3D graphics in 32-bit color;
  • High quality of the card based on the reference design for GeForce3 Ti 200;
  • Full support of all functions and features of the GeForce3;
  • Low price;
  • Excellent overclockability of some samples.

Lows:

  • Scarce set of accessories.

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