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


The Drivers

Chaintech didn't even bother modifying the drivers with manufacturer-brand graphics; they simply include Detonator drivers with the card, which I immediately upgraded to NVIDIA's latest 28.32 release. They offer quite a bit of control, but are nowhere near what one would call efficient, consisting of at least 10 individual configuration tabs.

The first tab you see is one of the three added to the Display Properties dialog, and simply serves to provide card information (including the BIOS version) and a button to the next set of dialogs. The color correction tab, as shown below, offers extremely fine control of the RGB values outputted to the display, as well as brightness, contrast, and gamma controls. It also allows saving these settings under individual profile names.

The Advanced properties button under Display properties will open a new dialog with 5 MORE tabs in it. It's interesting that NVIDIA devotes an entire tab to antialiasing settings while other driver manufacturers limit this function to a couple of text lines.

In addition to the Antialiasing settings, these tabs also cover highly advanced Direct3D and OpenGL settings, including VSYNC control, mip-mapping, trilinear filtering, and amount of memory in PCI mode. Also, the Desktop utilities tab accesses desktop management functions for use with NVIDIA's TwinView multiple-monitor support.

Some of these "Advanced Properties" tabs have buttons that open MORE dialogs...I suppose they would be called "ADVANCED Advanced properties." It can be a nightmare to drill all through these to find what you want; I think NVIDIA needs to stop thinking of what they can add to these and start worrying about making them easier to use first. Luckily, until that great day, there is a shortcut, in the form of the QuickTweak tray icon.

This tiny little applet is a very smart thing to leave running, since it offers MUCH faster access to such things as the Desktop Manager software, and anti-aliasing controls. It can also switch between saved Direct3D and OpenGL settings from the main configuration dialogs, as well as color profiles. It's pretty much a necessary shortcut, considering how complex the configuration dialogs can be to deal with.

The Tests

We tested this card against the current HCW low-end mainstream graphics king, the Hercules 3DProphet 4500, which is a 64 MB PowerVR Kyro2-based video card, pictured below. The GPU core on this card runs at the exact same clock as the TI200, which is 175 MHz.

Luckily, looks aren't one of our performance-testing criteria, otherwise the Chaintech SE would win in a heartbeat. So we installed both cards into the following system and performed our benchmark tests, all of which are available on our Downloads Page.

AMD Athlon-C 1.2 GHz 266 MHz FSB
ECS K7S5A Motherboard
256 MB PC2100 DDR RAM
Western Digital 15 GB 7200 RPM ATA-66 HDD
Turtle Beach SantaCruz Sound card
Windows XP Professional
Microtek 17 inch LCD

Hercules Kyro2: Reference Driver Version
Chaintech GF3TI200: Detonator Driver version 28.32

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