When I received my new Gladiac from Hyper Microsystems early last week, I was a bit stunned. The box looks like a graphics student’s project gone amiss. But hey, a book by it’s cover and all that. A least I wasn’t slowed down staring at the packaging.
Upon opening the the box, I thought: “Where’s the manual?”. Then I found it. Silly me, there it was all the time, neatly pressed and folded…. a single piece of paper. But hey, every bit of that print WAS in English! At least I think it was. I lost it; how I could have misplaced so massive a missive is beyond me!
The CD did contain a fairly well laid out set of instructions which, after a brief glance, I set aside. Who needs instructions on how to install a set of drivers from four driver releases back?
I went straight to the 5.20 drivers from Nvidia. In fact, this review was set back several times by the outpouring of new drivers from VIA and Nvidia.
I’d better say something about drivers here. A lot of pretty knowledgeable people have had trouble with this new round of driver releases from VIA. Serious trouble! Trashed registries and the like. On the off chance I didn’t just get lucky, here’s how I went about installing them:
(This next bit is for my VIA board brothers and sisters. So if your still BXing it, you can safely skip over, or hang in with a cruel smile of self-satisfaction playing across your “I told you so” mouth.)
- Download the new Asus Final Release 104 BIOS. Disable bite merge in your current BIOS, boot to your “Aflash disk” update and reload setup defaults. Re-enable bite merge, but disable FastWrites (That was likewise for my Asus sisters and brothers; but I couldn’t afford to lose any more readers. So if you love VIA….. you read it anyway.)
- Now make sure you’ve installed ALL the Win 98 SE updates – especially Direct X 7a. Then, using the install wizard for whatever version of VIA drivers you’re currently running, UNINSTALL your VIA drivers.
- Next,install the VIA 4.22 Drivers and reboot. Install the Nvidia 5.22 drivers and reboot. Then install the VIA 4.03 AGP drivers. Re-boot and go back into your BIOS and re-enable FastWrites. See, it’s easy!…maybe…you’ll have to tell me.
We can pause here a moment and give the BXers a chance to recover from their near-hysterical laughter. We don’t mind….really, we don’t. All through now? Can we get back to this review I’m trying to write? Good. No, no. That’s fine. We’ll just move on from here. By the way still waiting for Solano? LOL”:O}
What I finally ended up with was the VIA 4.22 4-in-1 drivers, followed by the installation of of the Nvidia 5.22 drivers, topped off by the installation of the 4.03 AGP drivers. This proved to be a problem-free arrangement – for me.
Notice how VIA drivers have made us all nervous as cats when it come to making generalizations? With VIA drivers you can never drown twice in the same river of woe.
Now we can let the games begin, which for me is Unreal Tournament. I use that wonderful but cranky game to test all my video and sound card settings. If UT will accept a setting, then I know it’s a “go”….at least on my system.
Prior to installing my new Gladiac, I took one look at the now-standard *cough* HS&F and pulled it, replaced it with an Intel flip chip sized heatsink and a PEP66 fan (Because I couldn’t figure out a good way to install the PEP heatsink…..or I would have).
Then I started upwards with the SGRAM and GPU settings. For UT they topped out at 365 SGRAM and 225 GPU. Rock stable.
No real difference from my reference card – an Asus DDR Pure – in terms of image quality. Same beautifully rendered graphics. UT DM-Curse played at 1280 X 1024 32 bit textures and 32 bit color. EVERYTHING ON in the Nvidia setup. I went from 46 FPS with the Asus Pure to 57.7 FPS running the Gladiac. A nice increase, but worth the $350.00 + price tag? I guess it depends on where your coming from. If your running a TnT or 3DFX this might be the right move to make.
Ok, time to bench and press this card!
All scores were obtained from MadOnion’s 3DMARK 2000 with a default card setting and an overclock of 365 SGRAM, 225 GPU setting. I first ran 16 bit with 16 bit Z buffer, then 32 bit at 24 bit Z buffer. I used triple buffering on all benchmarks and ran each test three times.
|640 X 480 16 bit|
|1024 X 768 16 bit|
|1280 X 1024 16 bit|
|640 X 480 32 bit|
|1024 X 768 32 bit|
|1280 x 1024 32 bit|
As we can see, the GTS benefits from overclocking at every setting.
In closing I’d like to comment upon MadOnion’s 3DMARK 2000 benchmark utility. This is the first time I’ve used this particular benchmark.
I found it to be a very polished, complete and easy-to-use benchmark. As it uses game segments and short, highly diverse graphics to measure performance, as opposed to a synthetic “if this then that” guesstimate, it’s very accurate in telling what you can expect performance-wise.
Furthermore, as one can watch these segments as the measurements are taken, one gets an exact idea of the QUALITY of a card’s rendering capabilities. In short, I think this might be a benchmark that even our own ever-watchful and wise Ed Stroligo might well approve of. High praise indeed.
Many thanks to Mike at Hyper Microsystems for allowing me to purchase this card at a favorable price.