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XMicro Hulk V GeForce 2 MX
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Date: Dec 15, 2001
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
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The XMicro Hulk V GeForce 2 MX - Page 1

The X-Micro Hulk V GeForce 2 MX
New kid on the block...

By, Jeff Bouton
December 14, 2000

I'm sure most of you are looking at this article and wondering, "Who is X-Micro"?  Wasn't the Hulk a bad television show from the seventies?  Well X-Micro is a relatively new company to enter the video card market.  Formed in 1999, X-Micro has made it's presence known by offering several video cards and trying to compete with such heavy hitters as Abit, ATI and Elsa.  Since they are focusing on the video market, who better to ally themselves with than nVidia?  nVidia has solidified their position as a leader in the design and production of high performance GPU's, and as you can see, there are several OEM's out there who have made it clear that the nVidia GeForce line is the current GPU of choice. 

The last thing I think of when I hear GeForce 2 is the word "budget" but that is exactly what X-Micro is trying not to break by offering the Hulk V.  With a retail price of $105, the Hulk V is a standard GeForce 2 MX based card with a few added touches.  The model we tested offers a standard analog output as well as 2 TV-OUT ports (1 RCA & 1 S-Video). A second monitor output is optional.

Specifications Of The X-Micro Hulk V GeForce 2 MX
Gosh this looks familiar!

                     
3D Features
  • Nvidia 2nd Generation 256-bit Geforce2 MX GPU
  • Integrated 2nd generation T&L engine
  • 700 Mtextel Fill Rate
  • 20M triangles/sec setup
  • Nvidia QuadEngine Technology
  • Order independent Full Scene Multisample Anti-aliasing
  • 32-bit color with 32-bit z/stencil
  • DirectX and S3TC texture compression

High performance 256-bit 2D acceleration

  • Optimized for multiple color depths including 32, 24, 16, 15 and 8-bit per pixel
  • True color hardware cursor
  • Multi-buffering (double, triple, quad buffering) for smooth animation and video

Video playback

  • Enhanced Motion Compensation for full screen video playback of all DVD/HDTV resolution
  • Video acceleration for DirectShow, Mpeg 1, Mpeg 2, and indeo
  • 8:1 up scaling and downscaling
  • Multiple video windows with hardware color space conversion and filtering

OS support

  • Windows 95/OSR2, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows NT
  • Linux XFree86 4.0.1 (RedHat 6.1)

The X-Micro Hulk V GeForce 2 MX ships with 32MB of standard 6ns Samsung SDRAM running at a  default clockspeed of 166 MHz.

You'll see a little later on that we were able to kick it up a notch or two though. For now, let's see how the Hulk V is put together...

Quality and Installation

 
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The XMicro Hulk V GeForce 2 MX - Page 2

The X-Micro Hulk V GeForce 2 MX
New kid on the block...

By, Jeff Bouton
December 14, 2000

Quality and Installation Of The X-Micro Hulk V GeForce 2 MX
On with the show!

Physical inspection reveals that this card has good, clean traces and there was no excess solder to be found.  When I first looked at this card I felt that this was well crafted.   I particularly like the inclusion of both RCA and S-Video TV outputs which gives the user some flexibility when upgrading their external video devices. (TVs, VCRs...etc)

The nVidia reference design of the GeForce 2 MX doesn?t call for a heat sink or a fan of any kind, yet the good folks at X-Micro had the presence of mind to add one anyway.  On top of that, they even used thermal paste to insure good heat transfer, a very nice touch in our opinion.  All but the most hardcore overclockers should appreciate the default setup.

Even though the addition of a heat sink and fan are not required, if you're going to do something, do it right.  The heat sink and fan are secured with two flimsy plastic rivets.  This resulted in a relatively loose seal between the chip and the heat sink.  Considering that the reference design specification doesn?t even call for a heat sink, this isn?t earth shattering but maybe if it were seated more securely we might have had even better luck when overclocking.

Another nice design feature is that they made the fan a standard two prong connection rather than soldering the connections to the board.  This should prove invaluable if the fan ever needs to be replaced in the future.  However, we were a little disappointed when we tried to unplug the fan from our test card and the entire plug and base came off, leaving us with two bare prongs sticking out of the board.  This wasn?t a huge issue but we?d expect that if we tugged on the wires the plug would stay in place.

The drivers included with the card are the standard Detonator 3 6.31 reference drivers; no tweaks or  utilities were added.  We didn't take any screenshots because there was nothing new to see. :)  If you've seen one set of Detonators, you've seen them all!

If there is one thing that I must comment on though, it's the feature called Digital Vibrance.  I've seen BigWop and Davo discuss this feature in some of their earlier reviews, but I had no idea how cool it would be to see for myself.

Digital Vibrance is a lot like the color setting on your T.V.  The more that you adjust it, the more intense the colors are displayed on the screen.  Normally I consider these types of features "fluff", but in this case I think it's a great option and one that I haven't turned off yet.  In the eyes of this reviewer there is a definite quality improvement.  With the amount of time I spend surfing and working in "office type" apps any image quality improvements are very welcome!

Over-clocking and Gaming Performance

 
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The XMicro Hulk V GeForce 2 MX - Page 3

The X-Micro Hulk V GeForce 2 MX
New kid on the block...

By, Jeff Bouton
December 14, 2000

H.H. Test System
Speedy...

Full Tower ATX Case w/ 300W PS, Pentium III 933EB, Tyan S1854 (Via 133A) Motherboard and X-Micro Hulk V  GeForce 2 MX 32Mb AGP Card, 256MB of PC133 True CAS2 SDRAM, Maxtor 20Gig  ATA/100 Hard Drive, Pioneer 16max DVD-ROM, Windows ME, DirectX 8.0, nVidia reference drivers (Detonator 3 6.31)

Benchmarks With The X-Micro Hulk V GeForce 2 MX
OpenGL...

Let's take the Hulk V GeForce 2 MX for a ride around the block and see how it handles Quake 3.

QUAKE 3

Not bad.  The Hulk doesn't seem to have any trouble....let's see what happens when we turn up the MHz...

Not a huge jump when over-clocked but great performance overall.  Time to up the quality and see how the Hulk V handles Quake 3's "normal" setting.

Well as you can see, the X-Micro Hulk V has no problem ripping through Quake 3 at both the fastest and normal settings.  Now let's see how it handles the heat turned all the way up...

Although we've seen slightly better numbers out of other MX cards, the Hulk V is obviously quite capable of burning through Quake 3 arena. 

In general, this card offers a great balance between features and price.  For around $105, you?ll get a quality GeForce 2 MX with very good overall performance and above average over-clocking ability.  I think that any casual gamer that plunks down the cash for this card will be quite happy with how it handles today?s increasingly complex games.  We give this card a Hot Hardware rating of...  

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