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Elsa Erazor X2 GeForce DDR
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Date: Dec 15, 2001
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
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Elsa Erazor X2 GeForce DDR - Page 1

The Elsa Erazor X2 GeForce DDR
Double Data Rate Fun

Over the past few months NVidia clearly has taken the lead in the 3D graphics race.  First we saw the release of GeForce based card from various vendors like Creative, Asus, Guillemot, Leadtek and of course Elsa.  The second round of GeForce based cards were designed the way the GeForce was truly intended to shine, with DDR SDRAM memory. 

This type of memory allows for reads and writes to it on the rising and falling edge of the clock cycle, effectively doubling the available memory bandwidth to the GeForce.  This type of memory is more costly than Single Data SDRAM but it really allows the GeForce to perform to its full potential.  We here at HotHardware think of a GeForce SDR card as fighting with one hand tied behind its back.  It still packs the hardest punch in the 3D market right now but nothing compares to the full force body blows a DDR based GeForce card can deal. 

This is a Hot Hardware look at the Elsa Erazor X2 GeForce DDR with 32MB of Synchronous Double Rate SDRAM Memory on board.  Here is what she is made of...

 

Specifications / Features Of The Elsa Erazor X2
Another clean reference design...

 

(Click for 800X600 view)

 

  • NVidia? GeForce 256? GPU
  • 32MB DDR Memory - Clock Speed 300MHz 
  • 256 - Bit QuadPipe? Rendering engine
  • Transform & Lighting Geometry Engines
  • 350 MHz RAMDAC support display resolution up to 2048x1536
  • 32-bit Z-buffer/stencil
  • Optimized for Direct3D acceleration with complete hardware support for DirectX 7
  • Cube Environment Mapping
  • Full OpenGL 1.2 ICD driver support.
  • 32 bits true color texture mapping support.
  • Hardware Transform and Lighting
  • TV-out support up to 800x600 resolution
  • Full PC99 and PC99a compliant
  • 3D REVELATOR Ready
  • 3D Game Sampler Including: Decent? 3, MotoRacer? 2, Drakan? , Prince of Persia? 3, Re-Volt?, Turoc?2, and more...

Pretty standard stuff for a GeForce DDR card.  The heat sink/fan combo on this card is not as nice as the one on the Erazor X SDR card.  It is a standard unit much like the ones we have seen on Leadtek card.  It does the job OK but nothing stellar.  As you can see in the picture, this is a basic reference design with one small exception that you probably wouldn't notice unless we told you.  Take a close look at the picture above, in the top left corner.  See the missing connector and land pads where chips should go?  

The Erazor X doesn't have the pin header "Video Feature Connector" on it.  There are also about 4 missing 16 bit muxes (sold by IDT of course :-) ) that would support this interface to the card.  What does this mean?  Well not much really, except that this card does not support the standard "feature connector" that some cards do.  It is no big deal really and is hardly ever used today for much.  Historically, this would have been used for a daughter board add on card for hardware MPEG decode or video capture.  These technologies are either supported by the GeForce's more than adequate MPEG/DVD support or a discrete adapter card in the case of a TV Tuner for instance.  There are also several components missing that would support Digital Flat Panel Output.  Typically unnecessary components in the signal path only add noise and reduce image quality anyway.  If you don't need this support, you won't miss this extra circuitry.

Let's plug this GeForce in and see what she can do.

 

Set  Up, Installation and Overclocking

 

 
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Elsa Erazor X2 GeForce DDR - Page 2

The Elsa Erazor X2 GeForce DDR
Double Data Rate Fun

  

Installation / Setup With the Erazor X2
No nonsense
 

 

Installation of Elsa products is usually a no nonsense affair.  This time was no exception.  The drivers installed quickly and we were able to configure our display and desktop, setting it up to our custom needs easily.  Desktop image quality with the Erazor XDDR was perhaps the best we have seen with any GeForce card.  Resolutions all the way up to 1280X1024 on our 19" Sony, were crisp and clean.  

In addition, the utilities that Elsa wraps around their drivers are well thought out and easy to use.  Here's what one of the screens look like.

The Direct 3D tab has all of the elements of the standard NVidia driver with a few minor variations.  Another nice feature that is standard with all GeForce cards, is the ability to change the brightness color, and saturation of the video overlay area.  This will allow you to tweak the image of either DVD or  TV Tuner output.  What would have been nice would be the addition of the ability to tweak D3D, OpenGL and Desktop Gamma individually.  However, we have yet to see this with any drivers based on NVidia reference drivers, which don't support this feature currently  
 
 
Overclocking With The Erazor X2
We miss the heat sink on the Erazor X SDR 

 

I hate to say this but we were spoiled with the cooling set up of the original Erazor X SDR card.  As we noted earlier, the heat sink on this card is a basic stock model found on most NVidia cards based on the reference design.  The larger more solid unit that we found on the Erazor X SDR was much more capable of dissipating heat than this solution.  As a result, the highest core clock speed we were able to achieve was 125MHz. with the highest memory speed being 325 MHz.  The memory clock speed achieved was typical of other DDR cards we have tested that use the same 6ns. Infineon DDR SGRAM chips that the Erazor Xuses.  What was surprising was the fact that we couldn't even get close to the core clock speed of the Leadtek DDR GeForce card we tested not too long ago.  We rate overclock capabilities of a card based on its "out of the box" set up.  Results may vary from card to card, as we all should know by now.  Regardless, our experience in this area with the Erazor X2 was not what we would have expected after the great results we received with the Erazor X SDR.  Bring back that old heat sink Elsa!!  :)

 

Obligatory Screen Shot Time!

This time we decided to include a shot from a couple of the bundled game demos that Elsa includes with the Erazor X2.  These are low compression JPEGs so the file sizes of the full screen shots are 100K+ each.

Click here to see the 800X600 Rollcage shot!

Click here to see the 800X600 MotoRacer 2 shot!

Both Direct 3D titles, these two games have a high fun factor and look great!  Dig those sun flares.  In the MotoRacer shot, you can see that I am about to give this dude a bit of a neck cramp when my Kawaski 250 lands on his back!  :)  We took both shots at 1024X768 w/ 32 bit color and then shrunk them down to 800X600 for better viewing across the wide ranges of resolutions that you folks run on the internet.  

One interesting note for the 3dfx vrs. NVidia types out there, see those "jaggies" in the MotoRacer shot?  Look at the banner that hangs over the track.  Supposedly, Voodoo4/5 with full scene AA will make everything look smooth.  We'll see...  Until then 3D image quality at 32 bit color depths, with a GeForce card,  is top notch! 

Let's move out to the test track!

 

Benchmarks and the low down, this way!

 

 

 
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Elsa Erazor X2 GeForce DDR - Page 3

The Elsa Erazor X2 GeForce DDR
Double Data Rate Fun

   

Our Test System
A P3 with an attitude...

Full Tower ATX Case w/ 300W PS, Pentium3-500E (Provided By OutsideLoop Computers) overclocked to 750MHz., Tyan Trinity 400 VIA Apollo Pro 133A Motherboard, 128MB of EMS PC133 HSDRAM, WD 18G 7200RPM DMA66 Hard Drive, Elsa Erazor X2 GeForce256 DDR , Sound Blaster Live value, Kenwood 72X CDROM, Win 98SE, DirectX7, NVidia Refernce Drivers Build 3.68

 
 
Benchmarks 
Unreal Tournament and MadOnion's Video 2000 
As we saw in our Hot Hardware Video 2000 based shoot out, entitled "Dueling DVDs", the GeForce is a formidable opponent in the area of digital video playback.  Here are the scores for the Erazor X2 that were garnered in this test.

Click for full view

 

Good quality, decent support of DVD playback features and what you don't see here, is the excellent low CPU utilization.  Check the round-up for a comparison vrs. the rest of the pack.  The Erazor X2 stands tall.
 

 

 

We figured we would change up some of the D3D benchmarks for this review.  The following are a few numbers for the Erazor X2 running in 32 bit color with Unreal Tournament's Flyby Timedemo.

It still amazes me how inefficient the Unreal engine is.  This game is the essence of the stereotypical CPU Hog!  There must be a few more polygons that the CPU has to push in Unreal Tournament because the numbers you see here are obviously at a different level vrs. the Quake 3 numbers.  In any event, a GeForce DDR card like the Erazor X2 will give you the best 32 bit color scores money can buy, at this point in time.  ( Feb. '00)


 

All things considered, the Elsa Erazor X2 is a well rounded 3D card with excellent DVD and 2D features.  The desktop image quality is the best we've seen with a GeForce card.  The 3D performance is excellent as well.  On the other hand, this may not be the card of choice for hard core over clocking types.  There is little headroom in clock frequencies, from our experiences, with this card.

Regardless, Elsa brings you a solid product with the Erazor X2 and throws in a nice game demo bundle to boot. We give the Elsa Erazor X2 a Hot Hardware Heat Meter Rating of....

 

 

-Davo

To Hot Hardware!

 

 

 
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