ABIT: Now More Than Just Motherboards
Longtime FiringSquad readers are probably familiar with ABIT. After all, three of the four motherboards we've awarded our Editor's Choice Award don their name. Looking to expand into new markets, it was only natural for ABIT to eventually enter the world of 3D acceleration.
This began at the end of last year with their launch of the Siluro GT2 line of video cards. Based on NVIDIA's TNT2 family of chips, three different products were initially available. At the beginning of this year, ABIT added the GeForce 256 core to their Siluro lineup with the Siluro GF256. In June, ABIT followed this up with the Siluro GF256 GTS, their first accelerator based on NVIDIA's GeForce 2 GTS core.
Graphics Marketing 101
Right now, you're probably wondering why ABIT is just now releasing their GeForce 2 product. After all, video cards based on the GeForce 2 core were first available four months ago. The answer comes down to simple logistics. With each core launch, NVIDIA's largest customers receive the first shipments of chips. These companies (ASUS, Creative Labs, ELSA, Guillemot/Hercules and LeadTek) are NVIDIA's Tier One partners and will also be the first with GeForce 2 Ultra cards available on store shelves.
To help make up for their late entry, ABIT equips every Siluro 256 GTS with 64MB of memory. With the added memory, the Siluro GTS should perform better than other 32MB cards in high resolution, high color depth situations. The extra memory should also help in maps with larger textures.
64MB: More Than Just Hype?
Of course, well all know what works in theory doesn't always apply to real-world applications. Our V6800 review
is a perfect example. In the article, we expected our 64MB GeForce DDR board to outperform the 32MB DDR board in more stressful situations. The 64MB board was able to slightly outpace the 32MB card in some tests, but in many of these cases the GeForce core was already pushed to its limit. As a result, the extra memory was a pretty debatable feature.
NVIDIA's launch of the faster GeForce 2 core last April reopened the 32MB vs. 64MB debate. But, along with the new chip came NVIDIA's 5-series drivers. With these new drivers, NVIDIA included a new feature, texture compression. With the texture compression implemented on these newer drivers, texture data sent to and from the graphics cards' memory is compressed into less space, negating some of the performance benefit of having the extra memory.
To determine exactly how much the Siluro GF256 GTS benefits from its 64MB of DDR memory, we ran the most exhaustive suite of tests we've ever conducted in a video card review. We combined these results with a host of other video cards on the market to see exactly how the Siluro stacks up in comparison to other available solutions.
So buckle up and get comfortable as we explore every aspect of the Siluro GTS, and 64MB video cards in general.