The Chrome S27 - Up Close
The Chrome S27, as with all three S20 series models, is a DirectX 9 ready card equipped with 8 Pixel Shader pipelines and 4 Vertex shaders, supporting Pixel Shader 2.0+. Most of the competing cards in the Chrome S27's class have moved to Pixel Shader 3.0 support, leaving the Chrome S27 a bit behind the competition from the start. Being at the top-end of the S20 series scale, the Chrome S27 runs at an impressive 700MHz core speed, which is significantly higher than a GeForce 6600 clocked at 350MHz or an ATI X1300 series which runs at 450MHz, both of which S3 designates as the Chrome S27's closest competitors based on price. Even at this very high clock speed, the 90nm manufacturing process affords an efficient design with low power requirements, needing no additional external power supplementation and only a small orb-like cooler.
S3 is offering the Chrome S27 in 128MB and 256MB flavors. Our review sample was the 128MB variant, which came with a basic retail package including WinDVD 5, a VGA to DVI adapter, an HDTV cable, a case badge, setup CD and velcro wire ties. The Chrome S27 we received came equipped with Samsung K4J55323QG-BC14 GDDR3 DRAM clocked at 700MHz (1.4GHz DDR). This configuration offers the highest memory bandwidth of the Chrome S20 series, peaking at 22.4GB/s. Even so, while running the GPU and memory at 700MHz, heat is not a major factor with the Chrome S27. In fact, the model we received for review took a minimalist approach to cooling, which can be seen when compared to a GammaChrome S18. The Chrome S27 comes with a simple circular, aluminum cooler and nothing more to keep the GPU and memory's temperatures within normal operating limits.
The Chrome S27 is equipped with both an analog and a DVI output for dual monitor support, and tops out at a resolution of 2048x1536. The Chrome S27 also offers a separate TV/HDTV output using the passive HDTV cable provided. The HDTV encoder of the Chrome S27 offers 1080p HDTV component output while supporting all 18 ATSC Digital TV formats currently in place. Dubbed "Hi-Def HDTV Connectivity", the drivers can sense what type of TV is connected and adjust the output settings accordingly, without manual configuration according to S3. More details on ATSC standards can be found here.