Diamond Multimedia Stealth S100 and S110

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Back when I was first stepping into the world of PC hardware, Diamond was quite a contender in the PC enthusiast market.  Historically known for their high-end "Viper" graphics product line-up, Diamond's name still strikes home with many a gamer. Unfortunately, back in 2001, Diamond withdrew themselves from the graphics market, leaving only two of their products available to consumer, the Rio Mp3 player and their line of Supra Modems. However, with the aid of Best Data, the Diamond brand has re-emerged and they have recently returned to the video market in hopes of turning face and rebuilding their once prestigious name.

A few months ago Diamond presented us with their Stealth S80, a Radeon 9200SE based card targeted at budget conscious consumers.  Continuing with their value minded Stealth series, Diamond recently handed us the latest editions to their product line up, the S100 (Radeon 9600SE) and the S110 (Radeon 9200 with 256MB of RAM). Though most enthusiasts wouldn't give either of these cards a second look, there is a large market of end users seeking cost effective upgrades to their "non-recreational" computer, that these cards could prove to be a modest step in the right direction.

 Specifications & Features of the Diamond Stealth S100
A Four Banger Under The Hood...
GRAPHICS TECHNOLOGY
  • Radeon 9600SE Visual Processing Unit (VPU)
  • Core Clock Speed 324MHz

MEMORY CONFIGURATION

  • 128MB of DDR RAM
  • 195MHz DDR
  • 64-bit Memory Interface

FEATURES

  • 4 parallel rendering pipelines
  • 2 parallel geometry engines
  • 64-bit DDR memory interface
  • AGP 8x support

SMARTSHADER 2.0

  • Programmable pixel and vertex shaders
  • 16 textures per pass
  • Pixel shaders up to 160 instructions with 128-bit floating point precision
  • Vertex shaders up to 1024 instructions with flow control
  • Multiple render target support
  • Shadow volume rendering acceleration
  • High precision 10-bit per channel frame buffer support
  • Supports DirectX 9.0 and the latest version of OpenGL

SMOOTHVISION 2.1

  • 2x/4x/6x full scene anti-aliasing modes
  • Adaptive algorithm with programmable sample patterns
  • 2x/4x/8x/16x anisotropic filtering modes
  • Adaptive algorithm with bi-linear (performance) and tri-linear (quality) options

 

HYPER Z III+
  • Lossless Z-Buffer compression (up to 24:1)
  • Fast Z-Buffer Clear

TRUFORM 2.0

  • 2nd generation N-Patch higher order surface support
  • Discrete and continuous tessellation levels per polygon
  • Displacement mapping

VIDEOSHADER

  •  Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video
  • FULLSTREAM? video de-blocking technology
  • Noise removal filtering for captured video

DISPLAY FEATURES

  • MPEG-2 decoding with motion compensation, iDCT and color space conversion
  • All-format DTV/HDTV decoding
  • YPrPb component output
  • Adaptive de-interlacing and frame rate conversion
  • Dual integrated display controllers
  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel 400 MHz DACs
  • Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI 1.0 compliant)
  • Integrated TV Output support up to 1024x768 resolution
  • Optimized for Pentium 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon? 3Dnow!
  • PC 2002 compliant 2nd generation N-Patch higher order surface support
  • Discrete and continuous tessellation levels per polygon
  • Displacement mapping

DISPLAY SUPPORT

  • 15-pin VGA connector for analog CRT / DVI-I connector for digital CRT or flat panel
  • S-video or composite connector for TV/VCR
  • Independent resolutions and refresh rates for any two connected display

 


The S100's bundle consists of what one would expect with a value-minded card. Upon opening the box we found two CDs, one containing a slew of drivers, various benchmarks and some DVD playback software; and the other holding a full version of Spy Hunter (a remake of the retro classic). Also included in the box was an S-Video cable for connecting your PC to a TV and a small pile of paperwork which was made up of a quick installation guide, the warranty card, registration information and a voucher for a 7 day trial of NITRO5x (an ISP that offers "DSL speeds over dial-up at a fraction of the cost").

 

 

Core Clock

Pixel Pipes

File Rate

Memory Clock

Memory Bus

Memory Bandwidth

Stealth S100

324MHz

4 1.3MP/s

195Mhz

64 3.2GB/s

 

Constructed on a standard green PCB board, the Stealth S100 is a fairly plain looking card. Void of any heatpipe's, gaudy coolers or flashing LED's, there is only a single passive aluminum heatsink cooling the heart of the S100, the 9600SE VPU. Removal of the heatsink was fairly easy.  A simple squeeze of the two spring loaded clips and the sink popped right off. Turning the sink over we found a very minimal amount of silver thermal grease applied to its surface and two small foam standoffs which where previously positioned between the RAM chips. Turning our attention back to the card we buffed up the VPU and snapped a few pictures.

Overall, the build quality of the S100 seemed fairly good upon physical inspection. There where no excess spots of solder or loose and flimsy components.  The only real concern that we had was the construction and attachment of the heatsink. Though the 9600SE core runs at a mild 324Mhz, and the passive sink should do an adequate job of cooling, we found the milling job on the underside of the sink to be very rough.  This could possibly lead to heat build-up due too thermal isolation from possible air gaps between the VPU and heat sink.  That aside, we were also concerned by the amount the sink rocked side-to-side on top of the VPU when pressure was applied. Though the consumer of this card will most likely install it only once, we feel Diamond may want to install some shims around the outer edge of the VPU, to reduce the chance of dislodging the cooler and breaking the thermal contact area during installation.
 We've also seen this potential issue with cards built by ATi directly, so Diamond is not alone here.

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