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Gigabyte GAGF2000
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Date: Dec 15, 2001
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
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Gigabyte GAGF2000 - Page 1

The GA-GF2000 GF256 GTS 32MB DDR
Super stable and Super Fast, Gigabyte Does it right...

By Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
8/21/00

 

As more and more companies diversify their product lines to offer motherboards and video cards, many similar products will begin to hit store shelves.  Companies like Asus, Abit and Gigabyte have ventured out of the motherboard market and are now offering high quality graphics accelerators.  But why buy one over another?  These companies know that is the dilemma a potential buyer faces and Gigabyte thinks they've found the answer. 

Gigabyte's newest entry into the crowded GeForce 2 GTS market is the GA-GF2000.  Although this card doesn't offer a big software bundle, or any exclusive features to differentiate itself from its slew of competitors, it does offer the quality and reliability we have learned go hand-in-hand with Gigabyte products, which at least to me, means a lot.

              

Specifications Of The GA-GF2000 GF256 GTS 32MB DDR
The "classic" GeForce2 GTS...



  • NVIDIA Geforce2 GTS, 256-bit 2D/3D GPU with Hardware Transform & Lighting

  • High-Performance DDR memory   

  • AGP 4X with Fast Writes

  • 32-bit color ARGB with destination alpha

  • Cube environment mapping and Anisotropic texture filtering

  • 350MHz RAMDAC

  • Motion compensation enhanced for DVD playback

  • Optimized drivers for OpenGL and DirectX

  • Full version games and VCD player included

  • Optional TV-out and DVI output support

  • Optimized Direct3D and OpenGL acceleration

  • Complete DirectX 7, DirectX 6 and DirectX 5 support

  • 256-bit graphics engine

  • 8 texture-mapped, filtered, lit texels per clock cycle

  • Single pass multi-texturing

  • 32-bit Z/stencil buffer (floating point or integer)Anti-aliasing: full scene, order independent

  • 32-bit ARGB rendering with destination alpha

  • High Quality Texture Filtering, including Anisotropic

  • Advanced per-pixel, perspective-correct texturing

  • Fog and Depth Cueing

  • High performance 256-bit 2D acceleration

  • Optimized for multiple color depths including 32, 24, 16, 15, and 8-bits per pixel

  • True-color hardware cursor

  • Multi-buffering (double, triple, quad buffering) for smooth animation and video playback

  • High quality HDTV/DVD Playback

  • Enhanced Motion Compensation for full-screen, full-frame video playback of all DVD and HDTV resolutions

  • Advanced support for DirectDraw

  • Hardware color space conversion (YUV 4:2:2 and 4:2:0)

  • 5-tap horizontal by 3-tap vertical filtering

  • 8:1 upscaling and downscaling

  • Per-pixel color keying

  • Multiple video windows with hardware color space conversion and filtering

  • DVD sub-picture alpha blended compositing

  • Video acceleration for DirectShow, MPEG-1, MPEG-2,and Indeo

  • Up to 128MB of SDR or DDR SDRAM/SGRAM

The memory that came installed on this board is 6ns Infineon DDR SGRAM.  This particular memory gave us very good results when it came to overclocking and ran relatively cool throughout testing. The exact specifications can be found right here.

Yields on DDR memory have obviously been getting better as time has gone by (which was expected)...more on this later though.   Also notice that 32MB versions of the GeForce 2 GTS boards are coming equipped with SGRAM, not SDRAM.  32MB SGRAM boards will consistently outperform similarly clocked SDRAM variations.

Installation, Drivers, Visuals

 
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Gigabyte GAGF2000 - Page 2

The GA-GF2000 GF256 GTS 32MB DDR
Super stable and Super Fast, Gigabyte Does it right...

By Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
8/21/00

 

Quality and Installation Of The GA-GF2000
That's good business...

My usual ritual of doing a thorough physical examination of every product I review, yielded some nice findings.  The GA-GF2000 may be based on the nVidia reference design but Gigabyte made a few modifications that we were happy to see. 

The first thing I noticed about this board made me EXTREMELY happy.  We'd say about 95% of high-end video cards released today have an active cooling system (heatsink / fan combo) mounted to them.  Of that 95%, most have them are held in place by thermal epoxy.  This may be the easiest way to manufacture the boards but short of using nothing, it is the least efficient interface material other other than thermal tape.  Believe me, you don't want to get me started on thermal tape!  Many companies use so much thermal epoxy that it actually hinders heat dissipation but not Gigabyte.  At least not on the GA-GF2000! Close inspection of the heatsink / fan combo revealed that Gigabyte used thermal grease as the interface material.  This sounds like something simple but it makes a WORLD of difference.  Many early Voodoo3 adopters, who saw as high as a 15-20MHz. difference in overclockabilty by simply replacing the included thermal tape with thermal paste, will vouch for me on this one.

Second, the fan?s power connection uses a very common 2-pin power plug instead of a hard to find proprietary one.  Take a look?

Overclockers that like to mount large coolers on their board will be able to connect their custom fan very easily and without cutting off the included connector and splicing it.  Again, this may not sound like a big deal but being able to restore you card back to it?s original configuration after heavy modification is a big plus.

Another and the most obvious thing to notice about this card, is the cool blue PCB.  This means absolutely nothing in terms of performance but because it's different than the others, it's worth mentioning.  I'm sure there are a few of you out there that would buy this card just for this reason :).

The installation of this card went off without a hitch.   Having done so many video card installs in my brief but busy lifetime, it?s almost becoming like second nature to me.  When you do it right the first time, there usually isn?t much to report. 

When this review began, we initially began testing with the Detonator 5.32 drivers, which yielded some nice results.  Then nVidia had to go and throw a wrench in the works by releasing the Detonator 3's!  With the boost in performance we saw by installing the Detonator 3?s, we simply had to re-run many of the benchmarks and show you what this card could really do.

Before we go into what kind of numbers this card was putting up, let's see what kind of visual quality it's capable of, shall we?  Anti-Aliasing has been a major topic as of late when discussing 3D video cards and for good reason.  The positive impact Anti-Aliasing has on the perceived image quality is very profound.  To give you an idea, here is a screenshot from Quake 3 with 2x2 anti-aliasing enabled.  We chose this shot because of the curves and steps that are visible.  


Click the image to enlarge (1024x768x32 screenshot)

The full image is a rather large, barely compressed JPEG.  So, those of you still working with a dial-up connection, be patient.  Notice that the curves appear far less jagged.  Also notice the steps.  Without AA enabled, the steps would appear very jagged and have terrible pixel popping at the seems, as your point of view changed.  Enabling AA virtually eliminated the pixel popping and smoothes out the "jaggies" immensely.

By now, I'm sure you're all wondering what this baby can do.  Let's find out...

Overclocking and Gaming Performance

 
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Gigabyte GAGF2000 - Page 3

The GA-GF2000 GF256 GTS 32MB DDR
Super stable and Super Fast, Gigabyte Does it right...

By Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
8/21/00

 

H.H. Test System
Grrrr....

InWin Full Tower ATX Case w/ 300W PS, Pentium III 933EB @ 980Mhz., Tyan S1854 (Via 133A) Motherboard and Gigabyte GA-GF2000 GF256 GTS 32MB AGP Card, 256MB of PC133 True CAS2 SDRAM from Mushkin, IBM 22Gig 7200 RPM ATA66 Hard Drive, Plextor UltraPlex 40max CDROM, Win 98SE, DirectX 7.0a, nVidia reference drivers version 5.32 & Detonator 3s.

Benchmarks With The GA-GF2000
Turn it up a notch...

There is no denying that the GeForce 2 GTS is arguably the most powerful video chipset available today. nVidia wasn't happy with having the fastest hardware available, they had to go and have some excellent software engineers tweak their drivers for even more performance.  This past week the Detonator 3's were unleashed upon as and we are thankful!  

We ran benchmarks at both default speeds and overclocked using the Detonator 3 drivers.  MDK2 (which I love) was used to show off the GA-GF2000's OpenGL with hardware T&L prowess.  Tests were done at 32 bit color with hardware T&L and Mip-Mapping enabled with trilinear filtering.

MDK2 Timedemo

Let's overclock this puppy...

A strange thing happened while overclocked.  The low-res scores actually dropped slightly.  It's obvious that at the lower resolutions we were CPU limited (at 980Mhz...SHEESH..).  Overclocking the card must tax the CPU just a little bit more.  Nonetheless, performance in MDK2 is fantastic.

Let's see what the Detonator 3 / GA-GF2000 combo can do to Quake 3...  Again, these tests were taken at both default and overclocked speeds.

Quake 3 Arena (Demo001)

Wow, CPU limited all the way up to 1024x768 at the fastest setting and look at that overclocked score at 1600x1200...let's turn things up a little higher though...

Again we see some very impressing numbers from the GA-GF2000.  

More Over-clocking, FSAA and The Rating

 
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Gigabyte GAGF2000 - Page 4

The GA-GF2000 GF256 GTS 32MB DDR
Super stable and Super Fast, Gigabyte Does it right...

By Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
8/21/00

 

H.H. Test System
Grrrrr...

InWin Full Tower ATX Case w/ 300W PS, Pentium III 933EB @ 980Mhz., Tyan S1854 (Via 133A) Motherboard and Gigabyte GA-GF2000 GF256 GTS 32MB AGP Card, 256MB of PC133 True CAS2 SDRAM from Mushkin, IBM 22Gig 7200 RPM ATA66 Hard Drive, Plextor UltraPlex 40max CDROM, Win 98SE, DirectX 7.0a, nVidia reference drivers version 5.32 & Detonator 3s.

Benchmarks With The GA-GF2000
nVidia's FSAA matures

Quake 3 at it's "High Quality" setting has been known to bring the most advanced video card to it's knees.  Let's see how the GA-GF2000 handles the "High Quality" setting with texture detail and geometry set to their respective maximums.

and overclocked...

We almost hit 100fps at 1024x768x32 folks!  That is impressive no matter which way you slice it.

Now just some of my quick philosophy.  To me, if you're interested in running your games with FSAA, you're looking for the utmost in image quality.  Because of this reason, I ran the FSAA benchmarks at Quake 3's "High Quality" setting.  The numbers are nice, but realize that at the "Normal" setting, or even lowing the texture detail slightly would give these numbers a significant boost.

800x600 looked fantastic and was fairly playable.  nVidia's 2x2 AA looks excellent and with virtually any other game genre is playable even at higher resolutions.

In conclusion I have to say that the Gigabyte GA-GF2000 was impressive.  The combination of Gigabyte's craftsmanship and nVidia's excellent engineering, is a match made in "cyber" heaven.  Those looking for a no-nonsense high performance gaming card that don't need bells and whistles like TV-In or Out and aren't willing to shell out the major bucks that a GeForce 2 GTS Ultra will command, should look no further.  We give the GA-GF2000 a rating of..

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Gigabyte GAGF2000 Page 5


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