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Reviewed by: Bryan Pizzuti [04.22.02]
Manufactured by: Chaintech



The GeForce3 series of GPUs may be in their final, dark hours, but they're not buried yet. To the contrary, several manufacturers are taking their TI200 chips, and releasing Special or Limited Edition cards, usually with 128 MB of RAM, and some with overclocked GPUs and RAM, as well as some very nice visual effects on the card. While the Chaintech model doesn't have anything overclocked, it DOES carry 128 MB of DDR RAM (400 MHz effective) mated to the 175 MHz GeForce3TI200 GPU. It carries the LARGEST OEM heatsink to be found on ANY video card to date and is also one of the prettiest cards around, with a black PCB, and a gold-colored card-edge and heatsink. So exactly how "special" is this special edition, and how does it hold up against the current king of budget video cards, the Hercules Kyro2? Let's find out.

First Impressions

For those not familiar with Chaintech, they are a Taiwan-based company that makes motherboards and video cards, just like most other Taiwan-based motherboard companies such as FIC, Asus, and ECS. Chaintech uses NVIDIA chips at this point, and tends to stick close to NVIDIA's reference design for video cards (again, like most other manufacturers). This is why, in many cases, there is little to no difference between one company's video card and another, and why people are discovering that many of these lesser-known companies are just as good to go with at times. Differences tend to stem from different cooling options, nd possibly added features such as video in/out.

As you can see, this card comes in a pretty gold-toned box to match the gold-toned heatsink. It's also very solidly packed in plastic, to prevent any impact damage. Be aware though, that there is NO anti-static bag in evidence here. In addition to the card, there is the usual registration paperwork, which most of us throw away anyway, and a DVD case containing the drivers and software. So I would count that as special too, since most manufacturers don't even bother with JEWEL cases, much less a DVD case.

The first thing I noticed about this card is the weight...that heatsink adds about half a pound to this card! It's a single integrated unit that extends over the DRAM chips, with groves cut to allow the fan (which is also metal and gold-colored) to pass air all the way through to the edges. I also didn't notice any thermal compound between the sink and the DRAM chips, but with the RAM clocked at a mere 200 MHz DDR, I'm not really sure compound would be absolutely necessary. A better use to all of that heatsink space would be to suck heat away from the GPU itself which, at 175 MHz, can't really be making use of all of that heat-dissipating surface area. And yes, I'm foreshadowing here.

Despite its weight, the card happily slid into my AGP slot and stayed there once screwed down (which I ABSOLUTELY recommend doing considering the weight). For a while I worried that it might need some sort of AGP retention clip, but it sat quite still and never even thought about budging. You won't be able to actually SEE the AGP slot with the monster heatsink in the way, so you'll be forced to look over the "bottom" of the card: the side that faces the power supply in most cases. (Side note: when will video cards start putting their heat-generating chips on THAT side of the card, to take advantage of the air circulation and exhausting in the area of the CPU?)

Since this is the first GeForce3 video card being reviewed here at hardCOREware, we'll go over the specifications below, which, except for clock speed, apply to any GeForce3 card. In addition to what is listed below, the card supports all past GeForce2 GPU features, which can be viewed here.

Graphics Core: 256-bit @ 175 MHz
Memory Interface: 128-bit @ 200 MHz DDR (400 MHz effective)
Fill Rate: 2.8 Billion AA Samples/Sec.
Operations per Second: 700 Billion
Memory Bandwidth: 6.4GB/Sec.

Major features:
4 rendering pipelines
2 Texture units per pipeline
4x Multitexturing
Lightspeed Memory Architechture
nFiniteFX Programmable Engine including Pixel and Vertex Shaders
Environmental Bump-Mapping
3D Textures
Shadow Buffer
Z-Culling and Z-Compression
Quincunx FSAA

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