Tale of Two TNT2s
Gigabyte GA660 Turbo
brought in the wreckin' crew for this event. Like a Demolition Team
with a bad attitude, we decided to mix up a couple of explosive
substances and see what kind of reaction we would get. This is a
"Bake Off" of sorts between a pair of TNT2 cards from
Gigabyte and Micro-Star International. Both boards are from the
standard TNT2 vintage as opposed to the Ultra variety. Both cards
also are designed with an agressive approach to the standard NVidia
Reference Design. You know both Gigabyte and MSI for their
exceptional Motherboard products. We decided to get a little insight
on their Graphics Accelerators. Let's see what they are made of.
Gigabyte GA660 Turbo - TNT2 with a Twist
If you are like
me and have a keen sense of the obvious, you'll note that the
Gigabyte board is set up dramatically different than any other TNT2
board on the market today. Dig that Metalic Blue Heatsink on the
back side of the PCB! It is mounted directly underneath the Ball
Grid Pads of the TNT2 chip's BGA package. Since you can't mount
other components directly underneath a BGA device, this area of the
board is wasted space normally. However, the folks at Gigabyte took
a page from the book of us hard core overclocking freaks and decided
that they would suck a little more heat out of the TNT2 chip from
the back side with this heat sink. Another interesting feature of
this board is the "Turbo Mode" jumper on the front side.
This jumper allows you to take this board from its standard 125 MHz.
Core Clock and 140 MHz. Memory Clock to a more robust 156/156 Core
and Memory Speed. We of course were dieing to see if the board was
capable of something more since this really is not "break
neck" speed for the TNT2. More on that later... :-) Lastly, the
memory on this board are the exact same chips that are on the MSI
board. Specifically, they are Samsung part number KM32S2030CT-G7.
Both boards have 32MB.
Power Under a Modest Exterior
The 3D AGPhantom
from MSI is also a very well made board. I actually like the
heatsink and fan combo on the front of this board, a little better
than the Gigabyte board. The heatsink is a little heavier and the
fan is one of those "Turbo-Prop" kinds with a few extra
blades. Also, both boards fasten their sinks down with push pins
through the PCB. The MSI board use a thermal transfer pad between
the sink and the chip. The Gigabyte's sink is glued down in addition
to the pins. One of these approaches works definately better than
the other. Once again, we'll get to that shortly.
Finally, the MSI
board has an additional TV S-Video Out connector and comes with a
converter cable. This is an extra plus for the AGPhantom. Other than
that, it is true basic reference design. Nothing too special here
except for the well designed heat sink and fan. The AGPhantom is
clocked out of the box at 140MHz. Core and 155MHz. Memory Clocks.
so that's the hardware. We are not going to insult your intelligence
and re-post the NVidia TNT2 specs here like we have in other
reviews. If you need a referesher,
I really like the TNT2 Chipset. It is a well rounded platform with
full 32bit Color and support for larger textures. Both cards are
raised from his solid stock.
Before we break
out the Kevlar Impact Vests for our little competition. Let's take a
look at a few more odds and ends. In the immortal words of Aerosmith
and Steven Tyler....