Diamond S80 Video Card Review

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Diamond S80 Video Card Review - Page 2

Diamond Multimedia's Stealth S80
A legend returns to the graphics market

By Robert Maloney
February 15th, 2003

Closer Inspection of the Stealth S80
Stealth technology revealed

         

         
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

The Stealth S80 is a lean, clean, graphics machine devoid of large heatsinks and using a relatively uncluttered PCB.  Backed by an ATi-typical red PCB, there are no distinguishing markings save for the 'D' logo on the fact of the card.  In fact, a sticker on the back of the card identified the card simply as an "ATi Radeon 9200SE".  The ram consisted of 5ns TSOP memory chips that Diamond has clocked at 180MHz.  Other than the VPU, RAM, and three small capacitors, the card is remarkably clean front and back.  External connections are the standard fare, with VGA, S-Video, and DVI ports allowing connections to both analog and digital monitors, as well as TV-sets.  It probably comes as no real surprise that the card does not require any additional power connections as well, allowing for easier installation when upgrading.

         

A slim, passive heatsink is seated over the VPU, which should handle the load easily as the core speed is only humming along at a mere 200MHz.  Removal of the heatsink consisted of releasing the two spring-loaded clips, where we found an abundance of a runny thermal paste.  We cleaned this up a bit, grabbed a camera shot of a now visible 9200SE core, and re-attached the heatsink.  An obvious benefit to the passive cooling method is that it doesn't add any additional noise to a system.  So, if 3D applications are not a primary necessity, adding in a Stealth S80 is not only a frugal option, but a silent one as well.

Some Stealthy Screenshots
Now try saying that three times really fast
Since a retail version of Spy Hunter came with the Stealth S80, we decided to take a couple of screenshots of the game to show off the card's capabilities.  The super-sleek car from our childhood now sports some new capabilities such as transforming into a boat or motorcycle.  We then took a few screen captures of the same starting scene, with and without anti-aliasing and applying anisotropic filtering.

Spy Hunter Screenshots
1024x768x32 - Default Quality Settings

         

Standard                         2xAA                      2xAA+4xAF
         

      
As you can see, the card can generate some nice visuals, but we recommend using some lower resolutions in order to keep the frame rates at a playable level.  Spy Hunter is a DirectX 8.1 based game, which caters to the Radeon 9200SE's strengths, but even at resolutions over 1024x768 we began to see some slowdowns.  Needless to say, the Stealth S80 will probably not fare too well with the current and future crop of DX9 titles.  We were able to move smoothly along in Spy Hunter, even when applying 2X AA, and then again with 4X anisotropic filtering enabled.  The optimizations really clean the images up a bit, as you can see by checking the above images side by side.  At 2XAA with aniso enabled, the edges of the car are much smoother and objects in the distance, such as the numbers on the wall, are much sharper.

The Test System and our first benchmarks  


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