The Card

Click to enlarge

At first glance, the 3D Blaster TNT2 Ultra looks identical to the Hercules Dynamite TNT2 Ultra as they're both built upon the same, somewhat sloppily laid out reference design PCB. AnandTech's review sample featured the same 32MB of 5.5ns Hyundai SDRAM used on the Hercules, allowing it to obtain the same 220MHz memory clock that the Hercules reached. TV-out is provided courtesy of the Brooktree BT869 used by most TNT2 reference designs and does a fairly good job (see our TV-out comparison for complete details).

As the name implies, the 3D Blaster TNT2 Ultra is based on the "Ultra" version of the TNT2 chip, which according to NVIDIA, indicates that the core clock speed and the memory clock speed should be no less than 150MHz and 183MHz respectively. However, NVIDIA has left the exact clock speeds up to the manufacturers and many have chosen to ship at higher than these recommended clock speeds.

Creative Labs has chosen to ship at this default setting of 150/183 with no overclocking options out of the box. Cooled by a decent heatsink/fan combo, albeit affixed with too much heatsink compound, we set out to find the limits of our sample card, which hit 170/220. The core clock of 170 seems about average for an overclocked TNT2 Ultra, but is still lower than the pretested and preset 175MHz of the Guillemot and Hercules TNT2 Ultra cards. In the heat tests of our July 1999 TNT2 Roundup, we found that the Creative Labs was the hottest card tested at the default clock rate, and tied with the Diamond when overclocked. Since the heatsink/fan appears to be a fairly high quality model, we can only attribute the high temperatures to the poor application of heatsink compound where clearly too much was used. It's quite possible that the core may be able to go quite a bit higher and the adventurous user may want to try removing the heatsink and applying the proper amount of thermal compound (the minimum possible), but this would be at your own risk and probably void the warranty.

As for the RAM, the Creative featured the same Hyundai 5.5ns SDRAM featured on the Hercules TNT2 Ultra. The memory is organized as eight 2MB chips, all on the front of the board. On both cards, we were able to hit RAM speeds of 220MHz with complete stability. As always, RAM suppliers will probably vary for Creative Labs, but 5.5ns should always be included. As always with overclocking, results will vary from card to card.

The 2D image quality of the Creative Labs TNT2 Ultra is fine at resolutions up to 1280 x 1024, unfortunately at 1600 x 1200 the image quality takes a noticeable dive. Although it is noticeably better than the best TNT cards in terms of 2D image quality, the Dynamite TNT2, as well as most TNT2 based cards, aren't too friendly on your eyes at 1600 x 1200 and above. If you're really looking for a combination of a professional/gaming card then Matrox's G400/G400MAX is probably what you should be setting your sights on, unfortunately getting one of those hot items is easier said than done.

Click here to find lowest prices on this product.

Index Drivers
Comments Locked


View All Comments

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now