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SUMA Platinum GeForce3
Ti 500SE and Ti 200SE Video Cards Review

February 25, 2002



Although video cards based on the GeForce4 have already appeared on the market we are not going to leave aside the GeForce3 and its variations - Ti 200/500. Thankfully, there are cards carrying 128 MBytes of memory, and we also are going to take a closer look at them.

We studied NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 200/500 based cards a lot of times, and the whole theoretical base connected with the GeForce3 is concentrated in the following articles:

Until February 6 the GeForce3 Ti 500 was the most powerful 3D gaming accelerator together with the ATI RADEON 8500. It works at 240/250 (500) MHz. The junior model - GeForce3 Ti 200 operates at 175/200 (400) MHz, and it is an excellent compromise between the price and capabilities.

All cards from SUMA have a stylish appearance, bright platinum writings and an original fancy box. Some time ago some SUMA's video cards had compatibility problems with some mainboards, but now they are all eliminated. And expensive GeForce3 based cards have always been an ideal instrument for diving into the 3D gaming world. And now I'm going to test the GeForce3 Ti 200/500 based cards from this company.

Cards

SUMA Platinum GeForce3 Ti 500SE

The SUMA Platinum GeForce3 Ti 500SE has an AGP x2/x4 interface, 64 MBytes DDR SDRAM located in 8 chips on the right side of the PCB.

The card has memory modules from ESMT (EliteMT) with a 3.8 ns access time which corresponds to 263 (526) MHz. The SE (Special Edition) suffix means that a card is equipped either with faster than required memory or has overclocked memory. And in this case the memory works not at 250, but at 258 (516) MHz.

Its design differs from other GeForce3 based cards. The PCB consists of 8 layers so that the card will be more reliable. This SUMA's card is very similar to the reference one, and differs only in the upper part.

SUMA Platinum GeForce3 Ti 500SE

NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 500 reference card

The textolite is traditionally black with effective silvery letters of the name.

The cooler's design is very similar to that of the SUMA Platinum GeForce3, there is just one difference in the central heatsink (the center of the fan is bulging and displays the symbol of the company).

The SUMA Platinum GeForce3 Ti 500SE has both TV-out and DVI.

The card ships in a stylish Retail package with holographic effects.

Accessories:

  • User manual;
  • CDs with software and utilities including a SUMA DVD player;
  • S-Video-to-RCA adapter;
  • S-Video extender.

Overclocking

The SUMA Platinum GeForce3 Ti 500SE (DVI) was able to reach the best results - 265/300 (600) MHz.

The card has a lower price than many other brand-name cards, that is why together with the ABIT Siluro GF3 Ti500 ($315-328) this one has the best price among Ti 500 cards.

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.

SUMA Platinum GeForce3 Ti 200SE

The SUMA Platinum GeForce3 Ti 200SE has an AGP x2/x4 interface, 64 MBytes DDR SDRAM located in 8 chips on the right side of the PCB.

The card has memory modules from Hynix (Hyundai) with a 3.6 ns access time which corresponds to 275 (550) MHz. Despite such access time the card works at the rated frequencies of 175/200 (400) MHz. It should be noted that the new BIOS version is optimized for such memory, and when we updated to this version we saw that the frequencies changed to 175/250 (500) MHz. This should boost up the performance, though it's a processor (not memory) which primarily affects it. However, this BIOS has too high memory timings, that is why even 550 MHz doesn't bring in much gain.

Although NVIDIA simplified the design of GeForce3 Ti 200 based cards, SUMA used a more expensive one of the Ti 500 (8-layer PCB) because of the 3.6ns memory.

SUMA Platinum GeForce3 Ti 200SE

NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 200 reference card

The design differs much from the reference one for Ti 200. But such attempt to make the junior card work at higher frequencies failed in the very beginning. Until the new revision (which is already available) it wasn't possible to lift its frequency higher than 480-500 MHz (not to speak of 550 MHz).

In all other respects the design is identical to the Ti 500SE card.

The SUMA Platinum GeForce3 Ti 200SE card has both TV-out and DVI.

The card ships in a luxurious Retail package. Besides, as the card was dated for the X-mas 2001 the boxes were well decorated and had tinsels and a greeting postcard inside.

Accessories:

  • User Manual;
  • CDs with software and utilities including a SUMA DVD player;
  • S-Video-to-RCA adapter;
  • S-Video extender.

Overclocking

The SUMA Platinum GeForce3 Ti 200SE (DVI) showed the record level in overclocking - 270/260 (520) MHz.

Note:

  • in course of overclocking you must provide additional cooling, in particular, a fan 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

Testbed:

  • Pentium 4 based computer (Socket 478):
    • Intel Pentium 4 2100;
    • ASUS P4T-E (i850) mainboard;
    • 512 MBytes RDRAM PC800;
    • Quantum FB AS HDD, 20 GBytes;
    • Windows ME.

The test system was coupled with ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors.

In the tests we used NVIDIA's drivers of v27.30. VSync was off, S3TC was off!

For the comparative analyses we used the following cards:

  • ABIT Siluro GF3 Ti500 (GeForce3 Ti 500, 240/250 (500) MHz, 64 MBytes);
  • Chaintech A-G320 GeForce3 Ti 200 (175/200 (400) MHz, 64 MBytes);
  • ATI RADEON 8500 (RADEON 8500, 275/275 (550) MHz, 64 MBytes, driver 7.206).

Test results

2D quality is flawless. You can work comfortably in 1600x1200@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 gaming test which demonstrates operation of a card in OpenGL with a standard demo benchmark demo002 and Quaver.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein (id Software) - a gaming test which demonstrates operation of a card in OpenGL with the Checkpoint demo benchmark.

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.

The SUMA Platinum GeForce3 Ti 500SE performs better than a usual card on the GeForce3 Ti 500 because of the faster memory. The junior model also goes on a par with its competitor. The overclocked card was even able to outscore the senior model. At the same time, the SUMA Platinum GeForce3 Ti 200SE is cheaper!

Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Multiplayer)

Checkpoint, High Quality Modes

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

The situation is identical.

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

Today we examined two video cards on the GeForce3 Ti 200/500 processor which among the best models on this processor. It should be noted that that strange BIOS for the Ti 200SE is not supplied with the cards and can be found only at the site as a beta version for overclockers, and I don't recommend to use it!

  1. SUMA Platinum GeForce3 Ti 500SE corresponds to the reference card in all parameters and has a higher memory frequency; the Ti 200 card is based on the same PCB (with a decent overclocking potential).
  2. Both cards have excellent quality/speed/accessories/price ratios.
  3. And both samples have fine 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 cards;
  • A good set of accessories in the Retail versions;
  • Relatively low price (approximately $310 retail for the SUMA Platinum GeForce3 Ti 500SE and $190 for the SUMA Platinum GeForce3 Ti 200SE for February 2002);
  • Excellent overclockability of some samples.

Lows:

  • None.

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