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Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro
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Date: Aug 06, 2003
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
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The Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro - Page 1

The Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro
A Little Something To Break the Monotony

By - Marco Chiappetta
August 6, 2003


For the last few months, budget conscious enthusiasts have been enamored with ATi's Radeon 9600 Pro GPU.  And when you really think about it, what's not to like?  It's a relatively inexpensive product, with a great feature set and above average performance.  The Radeon 9600 Pro has also earned a reputation for being quite the overclocker.  Back in April, when we first got our hands on an ATi built Radeon 9600 Pro, we overclocked its core and memory well beyond their default speeds and saw huge performance gains.  Today on HotHardware.Com, we're going to take a long look at Tyan's version of the Radeon 9600 Pro, the Tachyon G9600 Pro.  This card boasts a slightly redesigned PCB with a custom cooling solution, and like some previous cards in the Tachyon line-up, it also sports hardware monitoring capabilities not found on competing products.  Tyan has long been known for manufacturing high-end server class mainboards, but they have recently made quite a splash with their modified Tachyon cards.  We have previously reviewed Tyan's G9500 and G9700 Pros, and were impressed by both.  Let's move on and see if Tyan's got another winner on their hands with the Tachyon G9600 Pro...

     
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

Specifications & Features of the Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro
The Blue Monster

GRAPHICS TECHNOLOGY

RV350 Visual Processing Unit (VPU)
Core Clock Speed 400MHz - 1.6GP/s

MEMORY CONFIGURATION

  • 128MB of DDR RAM

  • 300MHz DDR / 600MHz Effective Speed - 9.6GB/s

  • 128-bit Memory Interface

3D GRAPHICS FEATURES

  • Four parallel rendering pipelines process up to 1.6 billion pixels per second

  • High precision 10-bit per channel framebuffer support

  • 128-bit DDR memory interface

  • AGP 8X support

SMARTSHADER 2.1

  • 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 2.1

  • 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

DISPLAY SUPPORT

  • 15-pin VGA connector for analog CRT / DVI-I connector for digital CRT or flat panel

  • S-video or composite connector for TV/VCR

  • Independent resolutions and refresh rates for any two connected displays

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

  • 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

GENERAL FEATURES

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

  • 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 BUNDLE

Tyan's Tachyon G9600 Pro ships with a relatively spartan assortment of bundled software and accessories, especially when compared to other "premium" graphics cards currently available.  Tyan includes a Quick Installation Guide, a User's Manual and a guide to using their proprietary Graphics Monitor software, along with a driver / utility CD-ROM.   The CD contains some basic free programs like Acrobat Reader 5, DirectX, a few Demos and a Full Version of Intervideo's WinDVD playback software.  A composite video cable, an S-Video cable, an S-video-to-RCA adapter and a DVI-to-DB15 adapter are also included with the card.  Overall, the Tachyon's bundle is not bad, but we would have liked to have seem some games included with G9600 Pro as well.
 


     
TYAN GRAPHICS MONITOR

One aspect of the G9600 Pro's bundle that is unique is the Tachyon Graphics Monitor software.  Tyan tweaked ATi's reference Radeon 9600 Pro design to incorporate a few features not found on similar cards.  Like some of its predecessors, the Tachyon G9600 Pro has hardware monitoring capabilities built-in.  Using the Tachyon Graphics Monitor software, users can monitor GPU and Memory voltages and temperatures, and can also alter the speed of the cooling fan to any speed between 3400RPM and 5400RPM.  The cooling fan can also be throttled based on GPU temperatures.  The Tachyon Graphics Monitor software gives users the ability to overclock their card as well.  GPU frequencies range from 380MHz on up to 590MHz, while memory frequencies are selectable up to 630MHz.

Next Up - The Card, Screen Shots & Gaming... 

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The Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro - Page 2

The Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro
A Little Something To Break the Monotony

By - Marco Chiappetta
August 6, 2003


     
(DUAL-DVI VERSION ALSO AVAILABLE)

     

At first glance, the Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro looks similar to a reference ATi Radeon 9600 Pro with an oversized cooler, but there are some subtle, yet significant differences.  First, the G9600 Pro's PCB is about 1/4" longer than ATi's reference design.  The extra real estate is necessary to accommodate the hardware monitoring circuitry and piezo speaker mounted at the upper right corner of the board.  The next, obvious difference is the large cooling solution.  The heatsink / fan combo used on the G9600 Pro is similar to the one found on Tyan's G9700 Pro. This cooler covers the GPU and spreads over all of the RAM modules mounted on the front of the board, and wraps around to the back.  When we removed the cooler to take a look at the RAM modules used on the Tachyon G9600 Pro, we found the some very interesting things.

     

There were small rubber-like, sponges saturated with a thermally conductive substance used as the thermal interface material between the RAM and heatsink.  One of these pads was also mounted to the back of the GPU.  The RAM used on this board was the biggest surprise, however.  Tyan chose Hynix HY5DU283222 F-36 (310a) BGA modules for the Tachyon G9600 Pro, as opposed to the Samsung K4D26323RA-GC2A chips we've seen on all of the other 9600 Pro's we have reviewed.  By default, the memory on the G9600 Pro is clocked at 300MHz, but according to Hynix's specifications, 275MHz is the recommended clock speed for these modules.  Even though the memory used on the G9600 Pro is technically overclocked out of the box, it should be completely stable in most circumstances (our card never crashed), but there may be little room for overclocking.  More on this later...

Screenshots with Antialiasing & Aniso Enabled
Make It So!

     
1024x768 - 4X AA - 16X ANISO

We spent some quality time gaming with the Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro before running our suite of benchmarks.  The screen shots posted above are from the latest game based in the Star Trek Universe, Elite Force II.  We set our resolution to 1024x768 and enabled 4X Anti-Aliasing with 16X Anisotropic filtering and enjoyed some single and multi-player action.  For the most part, frame rates in Elite Force II remained fluid and playable throughout our entire gaming session.  There were, however, some occasional hiccups when the action got heavy during a busy multi-player match.  We also played some Hulk and Enter the Matrix with Tachyon G9600 Pro using the same settings.  These games were also perfectly playable, but just aren't quite as fun as Elite Force II!  It should keep me satiated until Half Life 2 and Max Payne 2 ship!

Screenshots: Antialiasing Comparison
Jaggies!  Be Gone!

 


1024x768
NO AA

1024x768
4X AA

1024x768
6X AA

As video cards have gotten faster and faster, image quality has become much more of a deciding factor when contemplating a purchase.  Two cards may produce similar benchmark results, but if one renders superior, more accurate images, it is clearly the better choice.  We've done a number of side-by-side image quality comparisons in the past, so we won't be going in-depth again here, but we do want to give you an assortment of images to look over.  Above, we have some screen shots from the exact same frame of 3DMark03's "Wings of Fury" demo that clearly demonstrate the benefits of the Radeon 9600 Pro's Anti-Aliasing technique.  Pay special attention to the edges of the wings and the windows in the cockpit.  The difference is obvious...

It's time for Some Benchmarks!

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The Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro - Page 3

The Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro
A Little Something To Break the Monotony

By - Marco Chiappetta
August 6, 2003


Next, we tested the Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro with Ubi-Soft's Splinter Cell, using the Oil Rig demo created by the folks at Beyond 3D.  This test is heavily dependant on Pixel Shader performance.  Throughout the demo, pixel shaders are used to render the realistic looking ocean water that surrounds the Oil Rig.  As Dave mentioned in his review of ATi's All-In-Wonder 9800 Pro, in its current form, anti-aliasing is "broken" with Splinter Cell.  Due to this limitation, we do not have any AA scores listed in the graphs below...

Benchmarks With Splinter Cell
More DX Gaming

Like Gun Metal, the Splinter Cell benchmark requires some serious horsepower to generate high frame rates.  Once again, the top-of-the-line Radeon 9800 Pro and GeForce FX 5900 flex their muscles, but the Radeon 9600 Pros performed admirably.  At 1024x768, the Tachyon G9600 Pro couldn't catch the ATi built card, but the tables were turned once we raised the resolution to 1600x1200.  The performance deltas between the two Radeon 9600 Pros are extremely tiny though, and fall well within the margin of error in this test.

Head-to-Head Performance With Comanche 4
Did anyone see the Comanche Bike on American Chopper?

We used Novalogic's combat helicopter simulator Comanche 4 to continue our DirectX testing.  Comanche 4 uses DX8 class pixel and vertex shaders to produce some of the realistic visuals used throughout the game.  Unlike Splinter Cell and Gun Metal, this benchmark is heavily influenced by CPU and system memory performance, especially at lower resolutions.  When the resolution is raised and AA and Aniso are enabled, however, the video card becomes much more of a bottleneck.

Without anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering enabled at 1024x768, all of the cards perform at essentially the same level, with only a few frames per second separating the first and last place finishers.  When compared to each other, at 1024x768 the Tyan and ATi built 9600 Pros traded victories but at 1600x1200 the Tyan G9600 Pro held onto a slim lead in all of the tests.  As was the case in the previous benchmarks though, the performance differences are so small they are inconsequential.

UT2003 & Quake 3 Benchmarks 

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The Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro - Page 4

The Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro
A Little Something To Break the Monotony

By - Marco Chiappetta
August 6, 2003


We continued our DirectX testing with Epic's visually impressive Unreal Tournament 2003.  When testing with UT2003, we use a special utility that is supposed to ensure that all of the cards are being benchmarked using the exact same in-game settings and "High-Quality" graphical options.  Unfortunately, thanks to a fresh crop of driver "glitches", the validity of the GeForce FX's scores have been called into question because the texture filtering level changes to something between trilinear and bilinear when Anisotropic filtering is enabled (click here for more detailed information on this topic).  Keep that in mind when viewing these results. (Note: Rumor has it, the filtering issue will be addressed in a future driver release that should be available very soon.)

Performances Comparisons With UT:2003
Epic's DX Shooter

The G9600 Pro performed very well at 1024x768, posting playable (>60FPS) frame rates with and without anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled.  The Tachyon was outpaced by the ATi built card at 1024x768, but their roles were reversed when we raised the resolution to 1600x1200.  At 1600x1200 the Tachyon pulled ahead, but both Radeon 9600 Pros were capable of playable frame rates only when AA and Aniso were disabled at this high resolution.  Obviously, the high-end cards again proved their dominance, which is to be expected considering they cost more than twice as much as the Radeon 9600 Pros.

Benchmarks / Comparison With Quake 3 Arena v1.32
How Old is This Game in Dog Years?

Next, we moved on to some OpenGL tests with the granddaddy of all benchmarks, Quake 3 Arena.  We installed the latest point release, v1.32, and ran some tests using the built-in timedemo, "demo four".  Before running these tests, we set Quake 3 to its "High Quality" graphics option with Tri-Linear filtering enabled, and then we maxed out the texture quality and geometric detail options.

The Tachyon G9600 Pro tore right through the Quake 3 Arena timedemo runs.  The G9600 Pro produced playable frame rates, regardless of resolution, or whether or not AA and Aniso were enabled.  It was also the faster of the two 9600 Pros tested here in all but two of the tests.  We use the term "faster" very loosely though.  A 3 or 4 frame per second advantage at these performance levels means virtually nothing.

Some Serious Sam, Overclocking & The Conclusion... 

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The Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro - Page 5

The Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro
A Little Something To Break the Monotony

By - Marco Chiappetta
August 6, 2003


For our last set of benchmarks, we used Croteam's Serious Sam: The Second Encounter.  We configured the game to use OpenGL (this is one of the few games that can use either DirectX or OpenGL) and ran a series of tests using the built-in "Little Trouble" demo.   To ensure the playing field was level, we used Beyond3D's "Extreme Quality" script which maxes out the texture and filtering quality with all of the cards being tested.

Head-to-Head / Performance With Serious Sam: TSE
Sam is a Little High Strung...

In Serious Sam, the Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro narrowly surpassed the ATi built Radeon 9600 Pro in all of the tests run at 1024x768.  At 1600x1200, however, the ATi built card took the lead, again by a minimal, basically meaningless margin.  For all intents and purposes, the two Radeon 9600 Pros we tested here performed at identical levels.

Overclocking With The Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro
Speed is What We Need!

When we pulled this card apart and found the 3.6ns Hynix RAM populating the board, we were interested to see just how high the memory on the Tachyon G9600 Pro would overclock.  All of the other 9600 Pros we've looked at thus far were equipped with 2.8ns Samsung modules that overclocked well beyond their stock clock speeds.  Needless to say, based on our experience with other 9600 Pros and Tyan's own Tachyon G9700 and G9500 Pros, we were expecting the G9600 Pro to at least match the overclockability of these other cards.  Unfortunately, we were let down.

We used the Tyan Graphics Monitor to overclock the G9600 Pro until visual artifacts became visible during the benchmarks.  The maximum core and memory clock speeds we were able to attain were 515MHz and 313MHz, respectively.  The G9600's core overclocked very well, surpassing its default clock speed by an impressive 115MHz, but the memory would only overclock by a picayune 13MHz.  It appears that the Hynix memory used on this card simply does not have enough headroom for significant overclocking.

We're not quite sure what to make of the Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro.  It is definitely a great card, with an excellent feature set.  On one hand, the G9600 Pro is currently the only Radeon 9600 Pro with hardware monitoring capabilities, it has a great cooling setup with a variable speed fan, and it will be available in a dual-DVI configuration, something that should please anyone looking to use multiple digital LCD flat panels.  On the other hand, many enthusiasts have been attracted to the Radeon 9600 Pro because of its overclockability, which unfortunately happens to be the main area where this board is lacking.  However, we can't ding this card too severely because it wouldn't run as far out of spec as we would have liked.  In the end, if you plan to buy a Radeon 9600 Pro and won't be overclocking, this is the card for you.  The feature set and cooling solution are superior than any of the other 9600 Pros we've looked at to date.  And with its tweaked layout and superior features, the G9600 Pro is still selling at a similar price point to other Radeon 9600 Pros ($180 vs. $165).  Be that as it may, hardcore overclockers should probably shop around.  Based on its great features and competitive price, we're giving the Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of 7.5.

(Update 8 / 7 / 2003 - Rumor has it, the Dual-DVI Version of this card may not ship.  We sent an e-mail to Tyan asking if this was true.  We'll update this space when we get an answer.)

There are a ton of folks just like you in HotHardware's PC Hardware Forum...Go There Now!

 

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Tyan Tachyon G9600 Pro Page 6


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