iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






TYAN Tachyon G9600 PRO 128MB (ATI RADEON 9600 PRO) Video Card Review

August 25, 2003


  1. Video card features
  2. Testbed, test tools, 2D quality
  3. Test results: performance diagrams
  4. Conclusion

Have you ever thought about how electrons work inside a graphics processor? How do pipelines operate and texture processors apply textures? 

It makes an amusing picture if we represent a GPU in the form of a galaxy. An electron will be right the size of a man :-). Imagine there are 4 big constellations, - they are pipelines. And so on. Now let's imagine that a man goes at the speed of 5 km/h, the Earth makes one rotation every 24 hours, and if a man stands on the equator he covers 40 000 km in addition, i.e. about 1666 km/h, or 462 m/s. The yearly distance comes to 40000*365=14600000 km. Not bad, right? I don't remember diameters of the ellipse of the trajectory of the Earth's revolution around the Sun, but if we take that the orbit is round with the radius of 150M km, the Earth will cover 942M km a year (2*pi*r) at the speed of 107534 km/h, or 30 km/s. If we add it to the distance covering simply because of the Earth rotation, we will get astronomic figures...

But it's still too slow compared to the tachyon speed, a hypothetic particle having a superlight speed. If a man is an electron, and the above speeds ensure an acceptable speed for a GPU, what will we get with a tachyon-based GPU?

So, today we have a tachyon. And it's made by TYAN. Will the video card fly at the superlight speed if we throw it off from the window? :-) It will simply break through the Earth, pass the core, fly out from the other side, and reach the Sun in 5 minutes. I wonder if the warranty will be still in force after that :)

Unfortunately, the truth is not always so bright and tempting as marketing names. The RADEON 9600 PRO has little in common with tachyons. Unfortunately, TYAN tied this name with all video cards, including RADEON 9000 :-). Well, it's all just a joke, let's get back on track. Have a look at the reviews devoted to the R300/R350/RV250/RV350.

Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards which concern functional properties of the GPU ATI RADEON 9500/9700/9800

We know that the RADEON 9600 PRO based card is positioned on the upper middle-end market and competes against the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra. It makes no sense to compare it with the previous generations RADEON 9500/PRO because such cards leave the market pretty fast.

This card is a unique solution from TYAN. It has a design different from the reference one. 

By the way, the company itself was founded in 1989 by one of then directors of Intel and IBM, and he keeps on running it. The company makes mostly expensive mainboards for the market of servers and workstations, as well as servers and workstations themselves.

Some time ago the firm started expanding its activity and now makes mainboards for home and office PCs as well. Video cards have also entered its range of products, and all of them got the trademark Tachyon.


AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM memory in 8 chips on both PCB sides. 

TYAN Tachyon G9600 PRO 128MB
Hynix memory chips of  3.6ns access time, it corresponds to 275 (550) MHz, but the memory works at 300 (600) MHz (it's overclocking!). The GPU runs at 400 MHz. 128bit memory interface. 

Comparison with the reference design, front view
TYAN Tachyon G9600 PRO 128MB Reference card ATI RADEON 9600 PRO

Comparison with the reference design, back view
TYAN Tachyon G9600 PRO 128MB Reference card ATI RADEON 9600 PRO


The PCB design, as you can see, is strongly different from the reference card. There's space for the RAGE THEATER 200 chip which probably provides the VIVO support. Secondly, there is a card hardware monitoring system which will be described a bit later.

And now comes the cooler.

TYAN Tachyon G9600 PRO 128MB
The cooler consists of two heatsinks, one of them, which is installed in front, has a very speedy fan (up to 5500 rpm). Both heatsinks cool down both GPU and memory chips. They are pressed to the memory with resilient thermoelements placed between the sink and chip surface.

And this is the unique hardware monitoring technology.

Temperature control is on the shoulders of the Winbond's chip. The TYAN Graphic Monitor program is in charge of the monitoring:

As you can see, it controls voltage on the core and memory, temperature of the core (probably by the CPU means), on the upper memory unit and on the right unit (each unit has one thermistor). The fan has a tachometer and its rotational speed is therefore controlled as well.

The PCB has a speaker in the upper right-hand corner which will warn in case of any deviations of the parameters. The TGM program hangs in the task bar below on the right. Also note that the utility has an overclocker.

Finally, here is the GPU itself (it consumes only 1.3V):

Let's see what the box contains.

TYAN Tachyon G9600 PRO 128MB
CD with system software (including TGM and WinDVD), user manuals, S-Video-to-RCA and DVI-to-d-Sub adapters, TV-out extenders.

Here's the package:

TYAN Tachyon G9600 PRO 128MB
The box demonstrates the card's clock speeds twice (usually card makers don't indicate them at all). 


Testbed and drivers


  • Pentium 4 3200 MHz based computer:
    • Intel Pentium 4 3200 MHz CPU;
    • DFI LANParty Pro875 (i875P) mainboard; 
    • 1024 MB DDR SDRAM; 
    • Seagate Barracuda IV 40GB HDD; 
    • Windows XP SP1; DirectX 9.0a;
    • ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors.
    • ATI drivers v6.368.

VSync off, S3TC off in applications. 


TYAN Tachyon G9600 PRO 128MB 400/600 -> 480/604 MHz (it makes no sense to overclock the card as the memory clock is already lifted by the manufacturer! And the card's performance is limited primarily by the memory)


Note that: 

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

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

Test results

Before we start examining 2D quality, I should say there are no complete techniques for objective 2D quality estimation because: 

  1. 2D quality much depends on certain samples for almost all modern 3D accelerators; 
  2. Besides videocards, 2D quality depends on monitors and cables; 
  3. Moreover, certain monitors might not work properly with certain video cards. 

With the ViewSonic P817 monitor and BNC Bargo cable the card showed excellent quality at the following resolutions and clock speeds: 

TYAN Tachyon G9600 PRO 128MB  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x100Hz, 1024x768x100Hz

Test results: cards' performance

Test applications: 

  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein (MultiPlayer) (id Software/Activision) - OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703-demo, test settings - maximum, S3TC OFF, the configurations can be downloaded from here



    Test order: press '~' to invoke the console then type: 

    timedemo 1 (press Enter)
    demo [file name] (press Enter)

  • Unreal 2: The Awakening (Infogrames), DirectX 8.1, multitexturing, tested with the additional packet Bench'emAll! 2.5beta.

  • Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v.1.05 (Croteam/GodGames) - OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703demo, test settings: quality. 



    Test order: press '~' to invoke the console then type:

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

  • Codecreatures Benchmark Pro (Codecult) - Direct3D, Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, high quality



    Test order: 

    Codecreatures Benchmark Pro.exe (press Enter) Select a required test in the menu, or run the tests (in the Official Benchmark submenu) starting from 1600x1200 up to 1024x768.

  • Unreal Tournament 2003 v.2225 (Digital Extreme/Epic Games) - Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality



    ixbt0703demo test scene.

  • RightMark 3D (one of the game scenes) - 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.


It's useless to repeat that the RADEON 9600 PRO is a strong competitor against the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra. The today's card proves this fact again as its performance is not worse than that of the earlier tested RADEON 9600 PRO based cards. 


So, the TYAN Tachyon G9600 PRO 128MB can offer you:

  1. Good speed in 3D graphics which makes possible to play with AA and/or anisotropic filtering; 
  2. Modern technological solution with the DX9 support; 
  3. Control over temperatures and voltages. It's especially precious when a user undertakes overclocking. However, with such memory chips overclocking is hardly possible!

I'm surprised that such a respected and powerful company overclocks memory on video cards. On the other hand, there are few complains about quality of TYAN's products, this is a famous brand and every sample goes through careful manual control. Probably, the engineers are firmly convinced that the PCB layout is reliable and thoroughly test such chips at the increased frequencies. Of course, voltage is above (2.8V) than normal (2.5V). So it's possible to use this memory on 300 MHz. But anyway, overclocking will be overclocking. Here's a line from the specs of this memory:

4Mx32  HY5DU283222F-36  128M  4K  2.5V  275MHz  144 FBGA   

Its nominal frequency is 275 MHz. It's not 300 MHz this video card works at.

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

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

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