A quick test of the Volari V8

Not enough money for the latest high end cards? No problem! XGI has launched a complete range of graphic card solutions, which range from the high end to the low end, without forgetting the mainstream market. We’ll be examining the mainstream model, the XGI Volari V8 Ultra, in this preview. One important thing to note is that this is the single chip version of the V8 Ultra, and must therefore not be taken for the high end V8 Ultra Duo model which has two GPUs (double the horsepower). Does the Volari V8 Ultra really provide more power for less cost? Read more to find out.

Let us first examine the specifications of the Volari V8. The Volari V8 tested is clocked at 348Mhz and uses 128MB of DDR memory also clocked at 348Mhz. This figure is subject to change of course as manufacturers are always free to choose between DDR and DDRII memory and can modify the clock speeds of both the GPU and memory. The model tested is an XGI Volari V8 Ultra Reference Board (Rev00).
The XGI V8 features 8 pixel pipelines, 2 vertex-shading units and 4 pixel shaders units. Combining the 128-bit memory bus that the V8 uses with the memory clock, we can expect the peak transfer rates to be about 12GB/s (128-bit * 375Mhz * 2(ddr) / 8 (bits to a byte)). The V8 is also capable of 2x and 4x Full-scene anti-aliasing (FSAA) through Supersampling.

This article isn’t meant to be a full review of the V8 Ultra chip : indeed, for this preview, we base ourselves solely on the XGI Reactor driver V1.01.01-test04, whereas a new driver (V1.01.05) is scheduled to be released next week. As its name suggests, it is a beta driver, but it is newer than the Reactor 1.00.00 used in some earlier tests on other sites. This new driver will allow us to see the changes done since.

Here are the specs of the test system :
AMD AthlonXP 1600+
384MB DDR2100
XGI Volari V8 Ultra (XGI Reactor V1.01.01-test04)
Windows XP Professional Version

Note : The system specs used certainly isn’t what can be called “high end” by today’s standards, it even is “low end” nowadays (especially the 1600+ and ECSK7S5A). However, the advantage of such a test system is to show what one can be obtained with a low end system. In the same way, the test system isn’t a system that has just been formatted like in most other tests. Therefore, the V8 results obtained can easily be beaten with a more modern processor, etc and with a little tweaking.

- Let’s start with driver optimizations. I have tried to rename the exe files of the benchmarks in order to see if there was any change of performance with such a manipulation. Whereas NV drivers see their performance decrease with such a simple name change, I’ve seen no change in performance when renaming the files. Another point of interest is that the driver fully uses trilinear filtering in all apps.

-Now unto the tests :

3DMARK 2003 : I obtained a score of 2455 3D Marks, which is higher than what I had with driver 1.00.00 – however I guess my system specs are the limiting factor here (AMD AthlonXP 1600+, ECS K7S5A, 384MB DDR2100). When checking the Futuremark online results, I notice that I get about the same score as a Radeon 9600 with similar system specs.

Aquamark 3 : With the V8, I get the following scores :
AquaMark Score: 25502
AquaMark CPU Score: 4064
AquaMark GFX Score: 3717
When checking with the ARC online results browser, I get a result similar to those of a Radeon 9700 Pro with similar system specs.

X2-The Threat : my score is 30.876 fps in high detail (everything enabled, including shadows).

UT 2003 Demo : In benchmark mode, I get the following score : 117,64 in Flyby and 47,72 in Botmatch.
Using the command stat fps, I get in game about 70 frames per second. With FSAA2x, I get between 55 to 60 frames per second.

Firestarter Demo : Firestarter is an upcoming game from GSC Gameworld, the demo was released last week only. Here are the results obtained :
Game Benchmark – FPS Average = 170.61
Fast Bench – FPS Average = 124.93
With FSAA 2x – Fast Bench FPS Average = 108.75

To conclude, I think the Volari V8 Ultra fared very well, especially considering the system specs which were pushing it down (Athlon XP 1600+). Also, we must keep in mind this is the single chip version and is therefore different than the Duo version which has two GPUs. I must admit being pretty excited after seeing these results of the V8 Ultra card which is targeted at the mainstream market. The performance obtained certainly look very competitive indeed. It is great to see a new contender emerge against the big two (NV and ATI), some competition will benefit every one.

Needless to say that I can hardly wait for the driver 1.01.05, which is said to come out this week.

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