by Anand Lal Shimpi on June 3, 1999 10:42 AM EST

With the features tackled, it’s time to get to the core of things, the Riva TNT2 chip that drives the V3800. The board AnandTech received was not an Ultra version, meaning it was clocked at 125MHz core and was equipped with 32MB of SGRAM running at 150MHz. The 32MB of SGRAM was all placed on one side of the PCB in a manner similar to that of Leadtek’s Winfast 3D S320 II. The chips themselves were manufactured by Samsung and were 7ns SGRAM parts, an early indication that a 200MHz memory frequency isn’t going to be too possible on the V3800 (non-Ultra). The core is cooled by a generic heatsink/fan combo that happens to be the same unit used on the Guillemot Maxi Gamer Xentor 32. From AnandTech’s tests, the fan did an average job of cooling, however it was not as efficient as the more expensive AAVID unit used on the Hercules Dynamite TNT2 Ultra as well as on the Matrox Millennium G400MAX.

Here’s the million dollar question, how far did it overclock? The 125MHz core made it up to 150MHz reliably, however 155MHz and 160MHz did exhibit a few stability issues after running numerous Quake 2 crusher tests for a few hours straight. The SGRAM did not overclock nearly as well as the core did (for obvious reasons, 7ns SGRAM wasn’t meant to be run too far above 150MHz) as it only hit 160MHz without instantly crashing under Quake 2. With 150/160 being the stable maximum of the V3800, it’s obvious that the board wasn’t intended to compete with 175/200MHz boards floating around, but it does its job at holding down the competition at the 125/150 non-Ultra level.

Unlike Leadtek, who used very aggressive memory timings on their non-Ultra board, ASUS chose the same memory timings both Diamond and Hercules used on their boards to ensure stable operation, rather than to squeeze a few tenths of a frame per second out of their card. From the perspective of the manufacturer, ASUS could’ve used more aggressive memory timings and in a big roundup their card would be featured at the top of a graph with a lead of 0.1 or 0.2 fps; or they could concentrate on stability and make sure the customers that do buy their cards come away without a single complaint about stability/quality of the product. Following ASUS’ philosphy, it’s no surprise that they picked the latter.

The performance of the V3800 is on-par with that of the Diamond and Hercules boards at the same clock frequencies, so there is no point in re-publishing the wheel with more benchmarks. AnandTech will be rounding up all of the TNT2 cards that have come into the lab and will compare the performance of the individual cards in that roundup, but for now, performance shouldn’t be your top concern in looking for the TNT2 board that’s right for you. Features, overclockability, quality, and price are the four pillars that should support your TNT2 buying decision.

The Card Software & Drivers
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