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Colorful GeForce 7600 GS 256MB, Biostar GeForce 7600 GS Overclocked Edition 256MB

January 6, 2007







TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Introduction
  2. Video cards' features
  3. Testbed configurations, benchmarks
  4. Test results
  5. Conclusions



Enough of that. Eminent brands has almost stopped manufacturing interesting video cards, they are content with copying reference designs... We have recently seen a rare exception - 512 MB 7600 GS from ASUS. Well, we are forced to review newcomers that offer more interesting solutions.

Colorful Technology was born in the throes, it had been passed from one owner to another, merged, unmerged, resold, etc. Initially, it was a large Chinese concern working in the field of construction. Then it was decided to expand the business to the IT sphere. The ball started rolling... The company failed there, it was passed to another owner - a large partner of the concern that worked with an IT company in the USA. This company wanted this business, it got it, but failed. So, this company was born in 1995, but the current status was obtained just a couple of years ago. Then the company grew too large for the home market and decided to expand. The Russian market seemed an attractive choice.

On the contrary, Biostar is a famous brand. But in the lion's share of cases, users know this company by motherboards, not by video cards. And now we are going to review this vendor as a video card manufacturer.

So today our lab tested two video cards based on the same GPU - GeForce 7600 GS, which differs from 7600 GT only in reduced frequencies. We are interested in these models, because both of them are based on the non-standard design. They are bundled with fast DDR3 memory operating at increased frequencies (relative to 7600 GS). Besides, the GPUs are also overclocked.

Video Cards



Colorful GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E
GPU: GeForce 7600 GS (G73)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders/Geometry): 450/450/450 MHz (nominal — 400/400/400 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 550 (1100) MHz (nominal — 400 (800) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Vertex processors: 5

Pixel processors: 12

Unified processors: -

Texture Processors: 12

ROPs: 8

Dimensions: 160x100x35 mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU.

Output connectors: 1xVGA (d-Sub), 1xDVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.

Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware).




Biostar GeForce 7600 GS Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E
GPU: GeForce 7600 GS (G73)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders/Geometry): 400/400/400 MHz (nominal — 400/400/400 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 700 (1400) MHz (nominal — 400 (800) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Vertex processors: 5

Pixel processors: 12

Unified processors: -

Texture Processors: 12

ROPs: 8

Dimensions: 170x100x16 mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: green.

RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU.

Output connectors: 1xVGA (d-Sub), 1xDVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.

Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware).






Colorful GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E
The card has 256 MB GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in four chips on the front side of the PCB.

Qimonda (Infineon) memory chips (GDDR3). 1.4 ns memory access time, which corresponds to 700 (1400) MHz.




Biostar GeForce 7600 GS Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E
The card has 256 MB GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in four chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR3). 1.4 ns memory access time, which corresponds to 700 (1400) MHz.






Comparison with the reference design, front view
Colorful GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT
Biostar GeForce 7600 GS Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT


Comparison with the reference design, back view
Colorful GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT
Biostar GeForce 7600 GS Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT


Analysis of the photos reveals that both products have nothing to do with the reference design of the 7600 GS. The product from Biostar is based on the 7600 GT design. Colorful engineers preferred their own unique design, or bought OEM cards. The card from Colorful is very compact, even though it's equipped with fast GDDR3 memory. Biostar product also comes with this memory, because the card is based on the 7600 GT design.

The cards have TV-Out with a unique jack. You will need a special bundled adapter to output video to a TV-set via S-Video or RCA You can read about the TV-Out in more detail here.

Analog monitors with d-Sub (VGA) interface are connected with special DVI-to-d-Sub adapters. Maximum resolutions and frequencies:

  • 240 Hz Max Refresh Rate
  • 2048 x 1536 x 32bit x85Hz Max - analog interface
  • 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz Max - digital interface (there is only one DVI jack with Dual-Link)

What concerns MPEG2 playback features (DVD-Video), we analyzed this issue in 2002. Little has changed since that time. CPU load during video playback on all modern video cards does not exceed 25%.

Now about the cooling systems.

Colorful GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E

The cooler resembles much the famous device from Zalman, but it's just a clone. Though it looks very much like the original. Nevertheless, the cooling system is very efficient. It should please overclockers. Besides, the cooler is not noisier than Zalman. However, the 7600 GS does not need such a powerful cooler even at increased frequencies. It will do well with a small reference device.

Unfortunately, memory chips are not cooled.




Biostar GeForce 7600 GS Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E

It's a primitive device (air is forced through the heatsink), but it's decorated with some fins, etc. Even its retention module is old fashioned - two pins, while even Middle-End products have been using four-screw retention modules for a long time already, even for simple heatsinks.

That's another proof of my thesis that such cores do not need a large cooler.









Now about the second reason for BIOSTAR video card to be called Overclocked Edition (the first reason is fast DDR3 memory). The card comes shipped with V-Ranger. This utility can adjust frequencies, determine optimal overclocking, test it with MS SDK primitives, as well as monitor lots of parameters.




Bundle

Colorful GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E
User manual, CD with drivers, DVI-to-d-Sub and S-Video-to-RCA adapters, composite-out adapter.


Biostar GeForce 7600 GS Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E
User Manual, CD with drivers, DVI-to-d-Sub and composite-out adapters.




Packages

Colorful GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E

It's a large glossy package with a cardboard box inside. The card and bundled components are not secured, so they may dangle inside.




Biostar GeForce 7600 GS Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E

No jacket here, the box itself is painted with bright colors. All bundled components are thoroughly arranged into sections. The video card is secured not to dangle inside.






Installation and Drivers

Testbed configuration:

  • Intel Core2 Duo (775 Socket) based computer
    • CPU: Intel Core2 Duo Extreme X6800 (2930 MHz) (L2=4096K)
    • Motherboard: EVGA nForce 680i SLI on NVIDIA nForce 680i
    • RAM: 2 GB DDR2 SDRAM Corsair 1142MHz (CAS (tCL)=5; RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)=5; Row Precharge (tRP)=5; tRAS=15)
    • HDD: WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA

  • Operating system: Windows XP SP2 DirectX 9.0c
  • Monitor: Dell 3007WFP (30") (and Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070sb (21")).
  • ATI CATALYST 6.11; NVIDIA Drivers 96.97.

VSync is disabled.

Test results: performance comparison

We used the following test applications:

  • Splinter Cell Chaos of Theory v.1.04 (Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, maximum test settings, shaders 3.0 (for NVIDIA cards)/shaders 2.0 (for ATI cards); HDR OFF!

  • Half-Life2 (Valve/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, demo (ixbt01 . The tests were carried out with maximum quality, option -dxlevel 90, presets for video card types are removed from dxsupport.cfg.

  • FarCry 1.4beta (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, demo from the Research level (-DEVMODE startup option), Very High test settings. We used the beta patch, because it offers HDR+AA, unlike the release.

  • DOOM III (id Software/Activision) — OpenGL, multitexturing, test settings — High Quality (ANIS8x), demo ixbt1 (33MB!). We have a sample batch file to start the game automatically with increased speed and reduced jerking (precaching) d3auto.rar. (DON'T panic when the screen goes black for 5-10 seconds after the first menu. The demo will follow.)

  • 3DMark05 1.20 (FutureMark) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, trilinear filtering.

  • The Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay 1.10 (Starbreeze/Vivendi) — OpenGL, multitexturing, maximum texture quality, Shader 2.0, demo 44.

    I wish to thank Rinat Dosayev (AKA 4uckall) and Alexei Ostrovski (AKA Ducche), who have created a demo for this game. I also want to thank Alexei Berillo AKA Somebody Else for his help.

  • F.E.A.R. v.1.05 (Multiplayer) (Monolith/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, maximum test settings, Soft shadows disabled.

  • Call Of Duty 2 DEMO (Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, test settings — maximum, shaders 2.0, tested in Benchemall, demo and a startup script, readme contains necessary instructions



Video cards' performance

You may download the results in Excel format (Office 2003) archived in RAR 3.0 or ZIP.





Conclusions

Even though the above diagrams do not contain cards operating at EXACTLY the same frequencies as our models under review (450/1100 MHz and 400/1400 MHz), our tests demonstrate that both products are in between the 7600 GS and the 7600 GT in performance. The card from Colorful is a tad faster owing to the higher GPU clock rate.

Colorful GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E is a very good product, which comes at the price of a regular 7600 GS, but offers increased frequencies and a quiet cooling system. It will do for any Middle-End computer. The card worked well, we had no gripes with it.

Biostar GeForce 7600 GS Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E is no less interesting. The card does not differ much from the usual 7600 GS in price. Nevertheless, the product offers increased memory frequencies and wide overclocking capacities.

We had no gripes with this accelerator.

You can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards in our 3Digest.










Our Original Design award






is given to...

  • Biostar GeForce 7600 GS Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E
  • Colorful GeForce 7600 GS 256MB PCI-E





ATI RADEON X1300-1600-1800-1900 Reference

NVIDIA GeForce 7300-7600-7800-7900 Reference






PSU for the testbed was kindly provided by TAGAN




                               The Dell 3007WFP monitor for the testbeds was kindly provided by NVIDIA










Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

January 6, 2007


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