Radeon 9700 Pro Battle Tyan vs Gigabyte - HotHardware

Radeon 9700 Pro Battle Tyan vs Gigabyte

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The Gigabyte Maya II R9700 Pro
Vs.
The Tyan Tachyon G9700 Pro
Two Full Featured Radeon 9700 Pros Go Head to Head...

By - Marco Chiappetta
January 5, 2003


The Gigabyte Maya II R9700 Pro
Reference Radeon with a twist...
 

     

Physically speaking, the Gigabyte Maya II R9700 Pro is quite a sight, with its gold cooling hardware and brightly colored circuit board.  The card itself adheres strictly to ATi's RADEON 9700 Pro reference design, right down to the red PCB.  Should one remove the heat sinks and compare this "Powered by ATi" card to a "Built by ATi" card, it would be nearly impossible to tell them apart.  This is definitely not a bad thing, however, as ATi's RADEON 9700 Pro has proven to be one hell of a product!  The external plate houses single analog and DVI monitor connectors, as well as a TV / Video output.  This combination of connectors, along with the R300's inherent capabilities, allow this card to power two displays independently, either two monitors or a monitor and a television for example.   Gigabyte did make some notable changes to ATi's reference design in regards to cooling though.  Nestled over the R300 VPU is a large, gold, aluminum cooler held in place with two heavy plastic spring clips.  The 2.8ns Samsung BGA RAM chips adorning the front of the board are cooled by two heat sinks mounted with strong thermal tape.  ATi built cards do not have any memory cooling and use a basic, black VPU cooler.  We removed the Maya II's VPU cooler and found a thick thermal pad used as the TIM (Thermal Interface Material), similar to what is used on ATi's own cards, but we did not remove the memory coolers for fear of ripping one of the BGAs right off the board.  Unfortunately, Gigabyte neglected to mount any heat sinks to the memory modules found on the rear of the card.  This isn't a huge problem, as the memory is "under-clocked" at 310MHz (620MHz DDR) by default anyway, but it seemed rather strange to us that a company would mount heat sinks to the front of the board, but not the back...

The Tyan Tachyon G9700 Pro
A Blue Monster...


     

     

The Boston Red Sox have the "Green Monster", but Tyan's got a "Blue Monster" in the Tachyon G9700 Pro!  The oversized, custom cooling solution used on this card is very impressive to say the least, and although physically the board layout and component placement seemed identical to us, Tyan claims there were some changes made to ATi's reference board design.  Tyan also asserts that these "tweaks" made to the reference design, make the Tachyon G9700 Pro compatible with "all" AGP8X capable motherboard chipsets and that their 9700 Pro would be able to hit core clock speeds as high as 400MHz, a full 75MHz over stock.  We asked Tyan specifically what was changed that allow them to make these statements, but regrettably we did not get a clear answer.  We tested the Tachyon and Maya II in an NFORCE 2 based motherboard and a VIA P4X400 based motherboard and had no trouble at all, running with AGP8X enabled with either card.  So, we can't say with any real conviction that the Tachyon is "more compatible" than any other RADEON 9700 Pro at this time.  Regardless, just by looking at the Tachyon, it's obvious this is not your average, if there is such a thing, RADEON 9700 Pro.  First off, this is the only RADEON 9700 Pro to grace our lab that does not sport a red PCB, but keep in mind the color of the circuit board has no bearing at all on performance.  The cooling solution is well thought out, and seemed to do its job very well.  The heat sink is comprised of two aluminum heat plates that link together and squeeze the VPU core and memory.  We removed the cooler and found thermal pads used between the heat sink, R300 VPU and 2.8ns Samsung BGA memory modules. 

Another notable feature that helps the Tachyon G9700 Pro stand-out from the crowd, is the incorporated hardware monitoring.  Tyan includes a utility that gives users the ability to monitor fan speed, voltage and core temperatures.  Our board was a pre-production sample that did not have this feature incorporated just yet, but all shipping retail products will have hardware monitoring capabilities built-in.  That's about all that differentiates these two cards from one another.  The external plate on the Tachyon is identical to that of the Maya II.  They both are clocked at the same default speeds, 325MHz Core / 310MHz (620MHz DDR) memory.  In addition, the extra power connector placement is the same, located at the upper corner of the PCB.

(Update: January 6, 2003)

Our contact at Tyan was kind enough to send two hi-res images our way that show what the retail version of the Tachyon G9700 Pro with integrated hardware monitor looks like.  On the surface, these shots appear very similar, but pay close attention to the fan's power cable...

    

The version of the card we reviewed is on the left, the card to the right has the integrated hardware monitor.  Notice that the card on the right is a bit longer than a standard RADEON 9700 Pro, and that there is also a buzzer located in the upper corner.  Performance should be exactly the same as the version we tested, but there are noticeable changes made to the reference board design in the final retail version of the Tachyon G9700 Pro.

Screenshots and The Drivers

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