S3's DeltaChrome S4 Pro
Summary & Conclusion
BENCHMARK SUMMARY: There are two distinct sets of benchmark scores to analyze with regard to the S3 DeltaChrome S4. One set consists of the frame rates when no anti-aliasing or Anisotropic filtering was used; the other when 2X AA and 8X Aniso were enabled. In the tests with anti-aliasing and Anisotropic filtering enabled concurrently, the DeltaChrome S4 was outperformed by the GeForce FX 5200 Ultra in every benchmark at both resolutions we tested. But we have to point out that none of the entry-level cards we tested here today posted playable frame rates with these settings. We don't put too much stock in these results because owners of these entry-level cards can't realistically expect playable frame rates from a sub-$100 video card in current games using AA and Aniso. This may be possible next year when cards like the Radeon 9800 Pro and GeForce FX 5900 are much cheaper and can be considered entry-level solutions, but not yet.
The benchmark results without any anti-aliasing or Anisotropic filtering are much more interesting. In those tests, the DeltaChrome S4 consistently outran the Radeon 9200 SE and was able to beat the GeForce FX 5200 Ultra in a few of the DX8 tests. And in a few of the other tests, the S4 and 5200 Ultra performed at near identical levels.
From a target market perspective, we feel that S3 has a decent entry-level video card on their hands. Obviously, with only four pixel pipelines and memory running at 300MHz, the DeltaChrome S4 won't be breaking any performance records. In addition, even though it is a DirectX 9-compliant product, don't expect to play next-gen games like Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 without ratcheting down the resolution and lowering in-game image quality settings. But that is not what the DeltaChrome S4 was designed for. It is more squarely targeted at serving users who are looking for a very affordable graphics card. When it finally hits store shelves, we expect street prices for a 128MB card like the one we tested today to fall well below the $100 mark (maybe even below the $80 mark). S3 has stated that depending on the specifications, S4 boards will have MSRPs ranging from $79 - $129, but street prices will invariably be much lower. For what is a relatively small investment, you'll get a video card that more than complies with the DirectX 9 spec, with a very complete feature set and HDTV functionality, that'll be able to run the occasional game. S3 says the DeltaChrome S4 should be available relatively soon in the Japanese and European markets and should be available in the United States shortly thereafter.