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3D Spotlight : Hardware : STB Velocity 4400 review

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STB Velocity 4400 review
By Todd "Scuzzlebutt" Gable

The long awaited Nvidia TnT chip based boards are now in stores. It will appear on many company’s cards, Diamond, Canopus, Creative Labs, but first there was the STB Velocity 4400. Being first to the market has its pros and cons. Pros are you get flood of TnT enthusiast and hardcore hardware collectors who will pay top dollar for any card based on the much-hyped chip. I am one of these.

I loved the paper specs of the TnT and developer hype and I am always looking for the next great AGP card to team with my Voodoo2. The cons are the bug hunting. STB had many problems with motherboard compatibly and driver bugs. This left STB with a tarnished reputation for “rushing” the product. The current state is much better. They have had at least four driver updates and one BIOS upgrade that eliminates problems with some motherboards.

I myself had few problems and I even used the dreaded BH6/STB 4400 combo. With the current drivers and BIOS I have NO problems to report, not one bug!

The TnT stands for TwiN Texel something or other. In other words it can do multi-texturing in one pass due to a parallel pipeline to process pixels. It was originally spec’d at .25 micron 125Mhz chip clock for a peak of 250 Megapixel a second. These specs were lowered due to Nvidia wanting to get to the market faster in order to compete with the Voodoo2 and beat the flood of upcoming “2nd generation” 3D cards like the Savage 3d by S3, RRedline by Rendition and Permedia3 by 3D Labs. The decision was made to go with a .35 micron fabrication process to get to the market faster.

This, of course, heats things up and for stability sake, Nvidia was forced to run the chip clock at 90Mhz, thus leaving the peak fillrate at 180-190Mpps. This compares to the Voodoo2’s 90Mpps (180Mpps dual textured games), Savage 3D’s 125Mpps and G200’s 100Mpps.

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Installation
    Like I stated above, the Abit BH6 has been compatibility problem with the STB Velocity reported on the net. I read horror story after story and decided to try it anyway (I wanted my TnT!). At first my system wouldn’t boot at all, just beeped. After putting the old ATI PCI card back in and going into the system BIOS, I adjusted my AGP aperture size to 256MB and turned boot card from AGP to PCI (this ultimately was my problem). After this the system booted and drivers installed like normal.


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