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Radeon 9700 Pro Battle Tyan vs Gigabyte
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Date: Jan 04, 2003
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
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Radeon 9700 Pro Battle Tyan vs Gigabyte - Page 1

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

   

It has been about 5 months since the first round of "Built by ATi" RADEON 9700 Pro boards found their way onto store shelves.  Immediately after the first set of benchmarks and image quality comparisons hit the web, it was clear that ATi had a winner on their hands.  Performance was second to none, and image quality with Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic filtering enabled was top notch.  OEMs were itching to ship products "Powered by ATi's" latest flagship VPU.  A few companies released cards that were virtually identical to the ATi built products.  However, two companies, Gigabyte and Tyan, have since brought cards to the market that differ slightly from the reference design (at least in appearance).  Tonight on HotHardware, we're going to take a look at Gigabyte's Maya II R9700 Pro and Tyan's Tachyon G9700 Pro.  These two cards have generated quite a buzz in the hardware community...read on and find out why...

Specifications & Features of the Radeon 9700 Pro VPU
107 Million Transistors of Pixel Pushing Power!

The Gigabyte Maya II R9700 Pro
       
 
The Tyan Tachyon G9700 Pro

   
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

GRAPHICS TECHNOLOGY

  • RADEON? 9700 Visual Processing Unit (VPU) @ 325MHz

MEMORY CONFIGURATION

  • 128MB of double data rate SDRAM @ 310MHz (620MHz DDR)

3D GRAPHICS FEATURES

  • Eight parallel rendering pipelines process up to 2.6 billion pixels per second

  • Four parallel geometry engines process up to 325 million transformed and lit polygons per second

  • High precision 10-bit per channel framebuffer support

  • 256-bit DDR memory interface

  • AGP 8X support

SMARTSHADER? 2.0

  • Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 programmable pixel and vertex shaders in hardware

  • 2.0 Pixel Shaders support up to 16 textures per rendering pass

  • 2.0 Vertex Shaders support vertex programs up to 1024 instructions with flow control

  • New 128-bit per pixel floating point color formats

  • Multiple Render Target (MRT) support

  • Shadow volume rendering acceleration

  • Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL via extensions

SMOOTHVISION? 2.0

  • State-of-the-art full-scene anti-aliasing

  • New technology processes up to 15.6 billion anti-aliased samples per second for unprecedented performance

  • Supports 2x, 4x, and 6x modes with programmable sample patterns

  • Advanced anisotropic filtering

  • Supports up to 16 bilinear samples (in performance mode) or trilinear samples (in quality mode) per pixel

  • 2x/4x/6x full scene anti-aliasing modes

  • Adaptive algorithm with programmable sample patterns

  • 2x/4x/8x/16x anisotropic filtering modes

  • Adaptive algorithm with bilinear (performance) and trilinear (quality) options

  • Bandwidth-saving algorithm enables this feature with minimal performance cost

HYPERZ? III

  • Hierarchical Z-Buffer and Early Z Test reduce overdraw by detecting and discarding hidden pixels

  • Lossless Z-Buffer Compression and Fast Z-Buffer Clear reduce memory bandwidth consumption by over 50%

  • Fast Z-Buffer Clear

TRUFORM? 2.0

  • 2nd generation N-patch higher order surface support

  • Discrete and continuous tessellation levels per polygon for dynamic LOD

  • DirectX 9.0 displacement mapping

VIDEO FEATURES

VIDEOSHADER?

  • Seamless integration of programmable pixel shaders with video data

  • High quality, hardware accelerated de-blocking of internet streaming video

  • Noise removal filter for captured video

  • Integrated MPEG-2 decode

  • Hardware accelerated iDCT, motion compensation, and color space conversion

  • Top quality DVD and all-format DTV/HDTV decode with low CPU overhead

  • Back-end scaler delivers top quality playback

  • Upscaling and downscaling with 4-tap horizontal and vertical filtering

  • Filtered display of images up to 1920 pixels wide

  • Unique per-pixel adaptive de-interlacing feature combines the best elements of the ?bob? and ?add-field? (weave) techniques

FULLSTREAM? video de-blocking technology

  • 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

  • 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

DISPLAY SUPPORT

  • 15-pin VGA connector for analog CRT

  • S-video or composite connector for TV/VCR

  • DVI-I connector for digital CRT or flat panel

  • Independent resolutions and refresh rates for any two connected displays

GENERAL FEATURES

  • Comprehensive 2x, 4x, and 8x AGP support

  • High performance quad-channel DDR memory interface supports 64/128/256MB configurations

  • Fully compliant with PC 2002 requirements

  • Optimized for Pentium® 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon? 3Dnow! processor instructions

  • Supports optional THEATER? 200 companion chip for NTSC/PAL/SECAM video capture

  • Highly optimized 128-bit 2D engine with support for new Windows® XP GDI extensions


The Bundles:

 

GIGABYTE
 

 

 

TYAN
 

The Gigabyte Maya II R9700 Pro shipped with a very complete assortment of bundled accessories and software.  In addition to the obligatory driver CD, Gigabyte included a full version of Cyberlink PowerDVD 4 XP, probably the best DVD playback software on the market today.  There were also four full version games included, Serious Sam, Rune, Motocross Mania and Heavy Metal F.A.K.K.2.  This hodgepodge may not be the most cutting edge group of games you've ever seen, but they were welcome additions nonetheless.  There were also "lite" versions of two more games, 4x4 Evo and Oni, bundled with the Maya II.  Lastly, Gigabyte included a DVI-to-15 Pin adapter, a composite video cable, an S-Video cable and a Molex power cable splitter as well.

When directly compared to Gigabyte's bundle, Tyan's was a bit more austere, however.  Included with the Tachyon G9700 Pro was a CD that contained drivers and Tyan's custom hardware monitoring software, as well as a copy of Intervideo's very capable WinDVD playback software.  A composite video cable, an S-Video cable, an S-Video-to-RCA adapter, a DVI-to-15 Pin adapter and a Molex power cable splitter were also included.  Overall, Tyan's bundle was good, but it lacked any game software.  Considering the price the Tachyon G9700 Pro commands, and the fact that the vast majority of people buying R300 powered video cards are gamers, we think including a game or two to showcase the hardware would be a good idea.

The Cards...

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Radeon 9700 Pro Battle Tyan vs Gigabyte - Page 2

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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Radeon 9700 Pro Battle Tyan vs Gigabyte - Page 3

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

   

We made some minor changes to the layout of our graphs, and took a slightly different approach to the benchmarks in this shootout.  We wanted to showcase the power of the Maya II and Tachyon G9700, but also wanted to compare their relative performance to a GeForce 4 Ti4600 using NVIDIA's latest drivers (41.09 as of this writing).  All of the graphs are broken down by resolution, and where possible we used the same driver settings for each of the cards.  For all of our tests, we set the drivers for optimal image quality and only altered the AA and Aniso settings.

The Hot Hardware Test Systems
Intel Showcase

 
Common Hardware:

Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz (2800MHz) 533MHz FSB
Soyo P4X400 DRAGON Ultra Platinum

VIA P4X400 Chipset

512MB GEiL PC3500 Platinum DDR RAM

On-Board NIC

On-Board Sound

Western Digital 80GB 7200RPM HD x 2 (RAID 0)

Lite-On 16X DVD-ROM

Standard Floppy Drive

Windows XP Professional with SP1

VIA "Hyperion" 4-in-1 Drivers v4.45

 

Video Cards Used:

Gainward GeForce 4 Ti 4600
(v41.09 Drivers)

 

Gigabyte Maya II R9700 Pro

Tyan Tachyon G9700 Pro
(v6.13.10.6218 Drivers with v6.14.10.4000 Control Panels)
 

Unreal Tournament 2003 Benchmarks
Fill Rate & Features

 
We began our testing with Epic's absolutely gorgeous, DirectX powered Unreal Tournament 2003.  If you haven't already done so, I strongly suggest taking a look at the screenshots on the previous page.  UT2003's graphics are fantastic, and can bring most video cards to their knees.  To keep the playing field level, we used a custom .INI file that insures all of the cards tested were using the exact same in-game settings...

At 1024x768, with no AA or Anisotropic filtering enabled, the RADEONs were about 12% faster than the GeForce 4 Ti4600 in UT2003's "FlyBy" timedemo.  As we increased the resolution and enabled AA and Aniso, however, the RADEONs pulled way ahead, more than doubling the GF4's performance in some instances.  Something interesting to note is that UT2003's framerate remained over the mystical 60 FPS mark with 4XAA enabled at 1600x1200 on both the Maya and Tachyon.  Doing this with a game as graphically intense as UT2003 is no small feat.

3DMark 2001SE and Comanche 4

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Radeon 9700 Pro Battle Tyan vs Gigabyte - Page 4

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

   

MadOnion / Futuremark 3DMark2001SE (Build 330)
DX8 Gaming Performance With The MaxFX Engine
 
For our next batch of tests we used the synthetic DirectX 8 benchmark from MadOnion (now Futuremark), 3DMark2001 SE (Build 330).  The "MaxFX" gaming engine, from Remedy's very popular Max Payne, is used to simulate actual in-game environments.  3DMark2001 makes use of DirectX 8 Pixel and Vertex shaders, and if you've ever looked at 3DMark2001's detailed results, you'll know that this benchmark is broken up into groups of "High" and "Low" quality tests.  The final score is generated by taking the results of these tests and adding them together using this formula:
  • (Game 1 Low Detail + Game 2 Low Detail + Game 3 Low Detail) x 10 + (Game 1 High Detail + Game 2 High Detail + Game 3 High Detail + Game 4) x 20

When set to 1024x768, the Maya II and Tachyon were again able to outpace the GeForce 4 Ti4600 by about 12%, and just like in the Unreal tests, with Anti-Aliasing enabled the RADEONs destroyed the GF4.  At 1600x1200 the performance deltas are even more pronounced.  With Anti-Aliasing disabled the Maya II and Tachyon were about 25% faster than the GF4, but with AA enabled they pull ahead by more than 150%!  As expected, because they are clocked at the exact same levels by default, the two RADEON cards performed within a few points of one another.

Comanche 4 - DirectX 8.1 Performance
Shader Goodness

Next up, we have Novalogic's Combat Helicopter simulator, Comanche 4.  Comanche 4 also uses DirectX8 Pixel and Vertex shaders, and is a useful tool for testing overall system performance.  This benchmark is very CPU dependant, so don't be turned off by what look like relative low frame rates.

Both the Maya II and Tachyon managed to eclipse the GF4 Ti4600 at every resolution.  What is interesting to note is that the RADEON 9700s were completely CPU limited all the way up to 1600x1200, when AA and Anisotropic filtering were disabled.  With 4XAA enabled, the RADEONs outperformed the Ti4600 between 20% and 100%.  Again, both the Maya II and Tachyon performed similarly, with a slight edge going to the Tachyon in every test thus far.

Serious Sam & Quake 3

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Radeon 9700 Pro Battle Tyan vs Gigabyte - Page 5

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

   

Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
OpenGL Testing
 
We continued our OpenGL testing with some tests using Croteam's Serious Sam: The Second Encounter.  We configured the game to use OpenGL and ran the "Little Trouble" time demo using the "Extreme Quality" script, created by the folks at Beyond3D, to max out the texture and filtering quality, and to be sure all of the cards tested were using the exact same in-game options.

At 1024x768 and at 1280x1024, the GeForce 4 Ti4600 actually managed to surpass both of the RADEON 9700 Pros when Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic filtering was disabled.  Once we enabled AA and Aniso though, the GeForce 4 simply could not keep up with the RADEONs.  With 4X AA enabled the Tachyon G9700 and Maya II were about twice as fast as the GF4.  When AA and Aniso were enabled however, the GF4 put up a much stronger fight, remaining within a few frames per second. 

Quake 3 Arena v1.32
Running Out of Steam

For our next batch of OpenGL benchmarks we updated Quake 3 Arena with the most recent v1.32 Point Release, and ran timedemo "Four".  Quake 3 has definitely lost some of it's worthiness as a video card benchmark, but it is still useful for demonstrating the relative performance of one product versus another.  We set the game to its "High Quality" mode, enabled Trilinear filtering and maxed out the texture quality and geometry sliders before running any tests...

Without any Anti-Aliasing or Anisotropic filtering, the GeForce 4 Ti4600 held its ground, and outpaced both the Tachyon G9700 and Maya II at 1024x768, but from then on the story was much different.  The RADEONs outperformed the GF4 by over 60% at 1024x768 when 4X AA was enabled, and by about 120% at 1600x1200 when AA and Aniso were enabled.  In the Quake 3 tests, the Gigabyte Maya II nudged slightly ahead of the Tachyon G9700, but again, because they are clocked at exactly the same levels, the performance difference was negligible.

Overclocking & The Heat Meter

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Radeon 9700 Pro Battle Tyan vs Gigabyte - Page 6

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

   

Overclocking The Gigabyte & Tyan Radeon 9700s
As If They Weren't Fast Enough!

Of course, we can never leave well enough alone, so we set out to find just how high we could overclock the Maya II and Tachyon G9700.  We used the latest version of Powerstrip to raise the core and memory clock speeds until our test system could no longer reliably complete any benchmarks.  We wanted to clearly demonstrate the performance differences we saw when the cards were overclocked, so we re-ran the 3DMark2001 and Quake 3 benchmarks, with 6XAA enabled...

Our overclocking experience with both of these cards was pretty good.  By default, the Tachyon G9700 Pro and Maya II ship with 325MHz and 310MHz (620MHz DDR) core and memory clock speeds.  We were able to take the Gigabyte Maya II R9700 Pro all the way up to a 387MHz core clock, with a 348MHz (696MHz DDR) memory clock, and the system remained completely stable.  The Tyan Tachyon G9700 Pro had a bit more headroom.  With the Tachyon, we hit a 394MHz core speed, with a 352MHz (704MHz DDR) memory clock.  We could have gone even higher with both cards, but the visual anomalies were just too prevalent for us to call the cards "stable".  Overclocking yielded about a 15% increase in performance on Maya II, and an approximate 17% increase with the Tachyon G9700 Pro.

We spent quite a bit of time with both the Gigabyte Maya II R9700 Pro and the Tyan Tachyon G9700 Pro, and only one thing is abundantly clear.  The Radeon 9700 Pro is a killer product, and should be on every gamer's wish list.  But which one would we choose?  Well, picking a "winner" between these two cards was an extremely tough choice, but in the end, we'd have to give the nod the Tyan Tachyon G9700 Pro

GIGABYTE MAYA II R9700 PRO:

The Gigabyte Maya II R9700 Pro had by far the better bundle, and is less expensive than the Tachyon, coming in at $343 US.  The Maya II performed very well throughout our entire benchmarking suite and it was a good overclocker.  The cooling solution wasn't terribly loud and seemed to do its job well, but we would have liked to have seen heat sinks mounted on all of the BGA memory chips, not just the ones situated on the front of the card.  Overall, we have absolutely no problem recommending the Gigabyte Maya II R9700 Pro to anyone looking for a high-end gaming card.  In fact, if price is your most important consideration, the Maya II is the clear choice and you'd end up with four full games added your collection.  Based on its relatively "low" price, excellent bundle, stability and performance we're giving the Gigabyte Maya II R9700 a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of 8.5..

TYAN TACHYON G9700 PRO:

After inspecting, and benchmarking the Tyan Tachyon G9700 Pro, we were very impressed and are happy that Tyan, long known for their quality motherboards, has entered the graphics card market.  Although it is more expensive than the Maya II, $377 US on Pricewatch.Com as of today, the increased cost is justified.  Currently, the Tachyon G9700 Pro, is the only RADEON 9700 Pro we have seen with hardware monitoring capabilities.  It also has one of the most impressive cooling solutions on the market, reminiscent of what Leadtek has done with some of their recent high-end cards.  At default clock speeds, it squeaked by the Maya II in the majority of our tests and it was also the better overclocker.  Until someone comes along to change our mind, the Tyan Tachyon G9700 Pro is "THE" Radeon 9700 to own.  Based in its feature set, performance, cooling solution and "overclockability", we're giving the Tyan Tachyon G9700 Pro a 9 on the HotHardware Heat Meter and the coveted Editor's Choice award...

 Come get some in the HotHardware PC Hardware Forum, now!

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Radeon 9700 Pro Battle Tyan vs Gigabyte - Page 7
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