Diamond S80 Video Card Review

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Diamond Multimedia's Stealth S80
A legend returns to the graphics market

By Robert Maloney
February 15th,  2003

Many seasoned PC enthusiasts fondly recall being the first on the block to have a high-powered Diamond Viper card in their rig, and boasting about it to their friends.  Back then, Diamond and performance were nearly synonymous in the computer world.  It was a big loss when they pulled back in 2001, only offering their Supra line of Modems and Rio MP3 players.  After a three-year absence, however, Diamond has returned, starting off a bit slowly with their new value-minded Stealth line of cards which will soon be followed up by a high-powered Viper line.

Upon hearing of Diamond's resurrection, we had high-hopes for a unique product line.  The only way to stand out from the crowd is to offer something distinctive, whether it be the software bundle, the cooling method, or some other feature such as Tyan's TGM technology.  What will Diamond, or better yet, Best Data bring to the market that will make them a front-runner once again?  See, this is Diamond in name only.  Best Data purchased the rights to Diamond's brand names and trademarks, and is using the Diamond name to make a bigger push into the graphics market.  The big question is then, can Diamond / Best Data re-capture the hearts and wallets of an already jaded buyer's market?  That remains to be seen.  Our reintroduction to Diamond begins with the Stealth S80 - a feisty little card powered by ATi's Radeon 9200SE VPU. 

Specifications & Features of the Diamond Stealth S80
A "diamond" in the rough

                            
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

GRAPHICS TECHNOLOGY
  • Radeon 9200SE Visual Processing Unit (VPU)
  • Core Clock Speed 200MHz

MEMORY CONFIGURATION

  • 128MB of DDR RAM
  • 180MHz DDR / 360MHz Effective Speed
  • 64-bit Memory Interface

CHARISMA ENGINE II

  • Four parallel rendering pipelines process up to 1.1 billion pixels per second
  • High performance 2nd generation hardware transform & lighting engine
  • Advanced vertex shader support for the latest programmable effects

SMARTSHADER

  • Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 8.1 programmable pixel and vertex shaders in hardware
  • 1.4 Pixel Shaders support up to 6 textures per rendering pass
  • 1.1 Vertex Shaders support vertex programs up to 128 instructions with flow control
  • Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL via extensions

SMOOTHVISION

  • Image quality enhancement features for Direct3D and OpenGL applications
  • Programmable full-scene anti-aliasing supports 2 to 16 samples
  • Advanced anisotropic filtering supports 2 to 16 samples
  • High quality texture rendering with minimal performance impact

HYPER Z II

  • Lossless Z-Buffer Compression and Fast Z-Buffer Clear reduce memory bandwidth consumption by up to 25%

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 displays
VIDEO IMMERSION II
  • Delivers industry leading DVD playback
  • Integrated MPEG-2 decode including iDCT and motion compensation
  • Unique Adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing feature combines the best elements of the "bob" and "add-field" (weave) techniques
  • YUV to RGB color space conversion
  • Back-end scaler delivers top quality playback
  • 4-tap horizontal and vertical filtering
  • Upscaling and downscaling
  • Filtered display of images up to 1920 pixels wide
  • Hardware mirroring for flipping video images in video conferencing systems
  • Supports 8-bit alpha blending and video keying

FULLSTREAM

  • Noise removal filtering for captured video
  • 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 400MHz DACs
  • Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI and HDCP compliant)
  • Integrated TV Output support up to 1024x768 resolution
  • Optimized for Pentium® 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon? 3Dnow!
  • PC 2002 compliant

DISPLAY FEATURES

  • Dual integrated display controllers to drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions and refresh rates
  • HYDRAVISION? software provides complete control over multi-display configurations with a user-friendly interface
  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel palette DACs operating at up to 400MHz
  • Integrated 165MHz TMDS transmitter supports resolutions up to QXGA (2048x1536) and complies with DVI and HDCP specifications
  • Integrated TV-Out support up to 1024x768 resolution
  • YPrPb output for direct drive of HDTV monitors

GENERAL FEATURES

  • Comprehensive 4x and 8x AGP support
  • Windows Logo Program compliant
  • Optimized for Pentium® 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon? 3Dnow! processor instructions
  • Highly optimized 128-bit 2D engine with support for new Windows® XP GDI extensions

                   
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

The bundle is just what one would expect, considering the main-selling point of the Stealth S80 is its price.  There's two CDs in the package, one that contained an interesting mix of drivers, software, and benchmarks.  The other CD is a full version of Spy Hunter, a remake of the classic arcade game which should perform well on the Stealth S80.  In what is surely a cost cutting move, what you won't find in the box is a user's manual.  The only paperwork was a quick installation guide, the warranty and registration information, and a voucher for two free issues of PC Gamer.  Diamond also threw in an S-Video cable for connecting your PC to a TV.

The Stealth S80 up close and personal   

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