|Diamond Viper V770 TNT2
by Leonard "Viking1" Hjalmarson
Diamond seems to have been around forever. In fact, I remember my first mail order experiment with a Super VGA card late in 1986. Shaking in my boots, I installed my first custom graphics board in my hot 12 MHz 286 system.
Since that time I've owned a number of Diamond products, with varying degrees of appreciation. But my recent experiences have all been positive, most notably with the Diamond Monster MX300 and the Diamond Monster Fusion Banshee, two excellent products.
With 32 MB of onboard memory and clocked at 150MHz, the V770 easily clocks to 170MHz (maximum allowable is 175MHz, where the board sometimes loses its stability.) Like the rest of the Ultra pack, the V770 is equipped with a fan and heatsink combo. Memory on the V770 is 5.5ns and the RAMDAC is 300MHz.
The installation routine was standard fare and went smoothly. Simply shut your machine down, replace your current video board with the V770, restart and pop in the CD. I had no difficulties and didn't have to consult the manual.
Diamond has a reputation for frequent driver updates. On the whole this is a good thing, and it's always a good idea to check for updates once you complete your install. The most recent revision is 4.02 dated June 3rd. Optionally, you may log on to Nvidia and download their most recent Detonator 2.08 drivers. You will gain a bit of speed but lose the custom Diamond applets.
It's worth considering waiting for Diamond's own driver update based on the Nvidia reference drivers, because their "In Control 99" utility really is excellent. This utility is easily customizable and very user friendly. The new Turbo Boost feature is the first place I went. Using Turbo Boost, you can increase the default clock speed in 5MHz increments.
Mileage and Acceleration
At 170MHz the V770 performed on par with the Guillemot Maxi Gamer Xentor 32 on the identical PII 400 system under Falcon4. The Xentor 32, however, can be clocked slightly higher, to 185MHz. At this speed performance increased by about 8% over the V770 scores using the same Nvidia Detonator 2.08 drivers.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, todays sims don't show a lot of benefit from state of the art hardware. Who can even consider 32 bit color in Falcon 4? And there aren't any DX6 based simulations that support multi-texturing. But this will begin to change with the simulations we see this fall.
The V770 has a peripheral limitation in comparison to the Xentor 32, lacking a TV out and full DVD support. On the other hand, it does support AGP 4x. Until support arrives for AGP4x in software and on the new mainboards this is a moot issue.
Game Bundle for Sim Fans
Diamond has inaugurated a new bundling program that they call the Diamond GameZone. This program allows you to choose the games for your bundle, two full versions out of six options. The current choices are: Sin, Shogo, Heretic II, Asteriods, StarSiege Tribes and Fighter Squadron. HEY! At last some realistic options for simulation fans!!
As usual, your choice of video accelerator is determined by an amalgam of factors including price, current application of choice and a view to the future. If you are heavily into Falcon4 avoid this board. What you need is 3dfx Voodoo3 running Glide.
On the other hand, Voodoo3 is limited by memory, color depth and texture size. If you are buying for the future and/or for AGP games, this board may be the one for you. Look for a good price and be sure to compare prices with the Hercules and Guillemot boards. If you use or will soon acquire DVD you will have to go with the Maxi Gamer Xentor 32.
If you are buying for a combination of game genres but don't need TV or S-VHS out, any TNT2 based board will do. You'll get better image quality under D3d than Voodoo3 will give you, plus AGP support and support for larger textures. On the other hand if you already own a good gaming board (Voodoo2 or V3), consider waiting a few months and see what NV10 brings.
Finally, you can opt for Diamond's budget solution (non Ultra standard clock at 125MHz) at $179.99 and still have 32 MB of memory onboard. Be wise, grasshopper, and consider your options carefully!
Ed. Note: S3 recently announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Diamond Multimedia Systems. If completed, the acquisition of Diamond, one of the industry's largest board makers with over $600 million in sales in 1998, will give S3 a broad-based product diversity. Under the terms of the agreement, S3 will acquire Diamond Multimedia Systems in a purchase transaction in exchange for S3 common stock.
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Last Updated July 15th, 1999