Albatron 7300GSApr 7th, 2006 | By Archive
: 04/7/06 – 06:16:33 AM
: Video Cards
Page 1 : Index
It wasn't too long ago that nVidia released the 7300GS video card, as a matter of fact, many of you will probably recall seeing a couple of contests scattered around the globe where nVidia was giving away these cards. Such massive publicity can only be a good thing, and tonight, Albatron gets some of the spotlight here at Overclockers Online as we review their
In our last Albatron review, I had the chance to review the 6600-512 video card, one of Albatron's first 512MB video cards geared towards balancing performance with budget. Tonight's 7300GS should fit into the same category as this card sells at under one hundred dollars.
Page 2 : Package
Albatron shipped the 7300GS in its retail form, shown below.
The front of the box gives us an idea of what we have in hand. Albatron has gone with DDR2 memory for this board, and later in the review we'll get a closer look at the exact make.
The sides of the box don't hold too much information; a sample of what you would see can be seen on the lip of the package in the above photo.
As we turn the box over, we're greeted with a table that spans the entire face.
Is this an early indication of Turbo Cache effects or a misprint?
Page 3 : Specifications
Before we actually open up the package, we're going to do our usual thing of giving you the product specifications. Albatron's website, while sluggish for those in North America, has a fair number of specifications for you to look over. I want to point out that there are several different models in the GeForce 7300 GS family.
Apart of the onboard memory, the rest of the specification is exactly the same for all three models.
All of the features listed above are common to the GeForce 7300 family and they're all nice things to have. I don't know where I'd be without TV-out and features like nView as I frequently watch movies on my TV and do all my work on a pair of 19" LCDs.
On paper, the GeForce 7300GS sounds like it has a lot of potential. Here's what Albatron has to say:
Albatron's GeForce 7300 GS series VGA cards are unique in that they use the latest technology to up performance but also to lower costs. This may sound too good to be true but Turbo Caching, a speedy GPU and 90 nanometer process technology will bring you robust, full-3D game play performance with money left to burn.
Page 4 : Package Contents
It's finally time to open up the package. Looking at the accessories, we see that Albatron has gone with a minimalist type bundle:
Finally a glimpse of the video card:
Unlike some of the other GeForce 7300 cards, this one occupies the full height of an expansion slot. While Albatron does have a few half height cards, I have yet to see a PCI-E model.
Located on the board are four memory chips and a medium sized aluminum heatsink to dissipate heat from the core. As we already know, the 7300 GPU is a 90nm chip that requires far less power than components like the 7800GTX. The advantage of this is that manufacturers can opt for quieter cooling solutions. Another advantage of this low power card is that you don't need to provide any additional power via a PCI-E molex connector.
Flipping the card over we see a rather plain PCB.
The product sticker tells us this is the 7300GS with 128MB of on board memory, model number 7300GS128. I guess Albatron was in a rush to get this sample out to me and they had to put the card in any old box they had and just attach the proper labels.
The I/O panel really shows that this card is geared for the budget user, with a single DVI connector as well as a D-Sub connector. The far left connector is for TV-Out, and Albatron has kindly supplied a S-Video to RCA converter.
In order to get a glimpse of the actual processor, I had to remove the heatsink. You should never do this to your video card unless you plan on replacing it with a third party cooler. Our little aluminum heatsink and fan combination is held in place with push pins. After cleaning off the excess amount of thermal paste, we can have this:
I also removed the label from the fan, but all I got was an internal picture of the motor.
The last key feature for this video card is the onboard memory. The 128MB is supplied by Hynix.
We can easily see the product number is HY5PS561621-A. The die is FP-28 and the production date is 529A. With all the information in front of me, you would think it would be easy to dig up the specifications. Unfortunately I couldn't find much. All I know is that these chips are indeed DDR2 and rated for 800Mhz. We'll get a better idea of its true potential after we do some overclocking, and to do that we need to install this card!
Page 5 : Installation and Overclocking
The physical installation of the GeForce 7300GS is not difficult, but the driver installation is slightly more complicated compared with other nVidia solutions.
To begin, you will want to remove your existing graphics card from your PCI-E x16 slot and slide in the 7300GS.
The small heatsink will allow you to take advantage of your PCI-E 1x slot. If you have no idea what a PCI-E 1x slot is good for, then you haven't read Jody's PEXSATA22 review!
With the card in place, connect either your VGA or DVI monitor and get ready to install Windows. When I first installed the card, the Forceware 81.98 did not support the GeForce 7300 family. I ended up using a beta set, labeled the Forceware 82.65 that I downloaded from Guru3D. With the release of the Forceware 84.21 on March 17 2006, I do believe this set is compatible with this card.
To begin overclocking, I started by using the auto-overclock feature and slowly raised the clocking frequency followed by the memory frequency. I allowed ATItool to scan for artifacts each night and if it detected an artifact anytime before reaching the 6 hour mark, I dropped the frequency a tiny bit. I first overclocked the GPU. After it reached its peak, I dropped it back down to the stock settings and began overclocking the memory. Once the maximum frequency was achieved for the memory, I raised the GPU back up to the overclocked state and slowly raised and lowered both GPU and memory frequencies in between artifact scans until it was stable. The final results were a
Mhz gain on the GPU and a
Mhz gain on the memory for a clock speed of 600/875.
It's not exactly a stellar overclock, but it wasn't bad. Throughout the overclocking process, I let the fan operate at 100% speed.
With the maximum operating speed now known, it's time to get some benchmarks done.
Page 6 : Benchmark Conditions
For today's review, I will be using my Albatron Socket 939 Venice machine.
AMD 3000+ Venice @ 200*9
Thermaltake Big Typhoon
OCZ PC4800 Platinum Elite Editon 200-2-2-2-5 1T
Samsung SATAII 40 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive
Antec TruePower 2.0 480 Watt Blue
Albatron 7300GS 512MB TC nVidia Forceware 82.651
The suite of synthetic software used included FutureMark 3DMark 2001se, 3DMark 2003, 3DMark 2005 and SpecViewPerf8.1. For games, I ran the card through Half-Life 2, Doom III and Battlefield II at various resolutions and combinations of 2xAA, 4xAA, 8xAF and 16xAF.
Each application was executed three times and the final result calculated as the average of the runs. During the performance evaluations, these was no more than 1-2% variation between run results.
If you're curious to know about the thermal performance, after my 6 hours of artifact scanning using ATiTool, the temperature never went above 58°C with the fan at 100%. The fan was also very quiet; not inaudible, but quiet enough that it'll be masked by all the other components in a typical system.
Page 7 : Synthetic Performance
Our FutureMark suite of software should give us a good gage of how the card will perform in DirectX7, DirectX8 and DirectX9 based applications.
Our other synthetic benchmark is SpecViewPerf8.1.
Despite it's best effort, the 7300GS falls slightly behind the Albatron 6600-512 in the Futuremark benchmarks. While the 7300GS does cost a lot less than the 6600-512, we're expecting it to lag slightly behind the rest of our cards in the remaining video game benchmarks. However, when it comes to OpenGL applications, the 7300GS can hold its own. So far, the card's off to a wobbly start but considering it is priced at the 80 to 90 dollar mark, we can't exactly expect top of the line performance.
Page 8 : Half Life 2
Half Life 2 is very popular for its single-player and multi-player variations. Behind the game is the Source engine that Valve continues to improve upon and license to other developers. The engine in its shipped state is very dependent on the overall system performance (particularly on the CPU) and we can see this as we look at the frame rate results.
Without any eye candy, this card is more or less on par with the 6600-512, it's only a few frames slower. Enabling any sort of eye candy will scale the frame rate down and is not recommended with this card.
At about 1280*1024, the typical resolution on an LCD monitor, the frame rate is about 30fps; not exactly good, but decent. With Half Life 2, a more powerful processor or one that is overclocked would boost the frame rates and make it more tolerable.
Page 9 : Doom III
DOOM III uses an OpenGL engine that is quite dependent on the processing power of your video card.
Despite the results from SpecViewPerf 8.1, in an OpenGL game, the 7300GS does not perform up to the same level as our other cards. Even the 6600-512 begins to distance itself from our 7300GS with a 20fps advantage.
Page 10 : Battlefield II
The last game we will be looking at is BattleField 2.
We have more of the same with the Battlefield II results. One thing I noticed was that the frames rates dropped at a reduced rate when these benchmarks were going. Regardless, when you approach single digit rates it doesn't matter how slow it drops, it's not playable by any standard. The only real playable resolution with this game is at 800×600 and this can be said for all the other games we benchmarked.
Page 11 : Conclusion
Albatron, like many other top tier manufacturers in the industry released a 7300GS variant with hopes of having a piece of the pie in the market. While it is a budget card, it holds a high level of value because of its low cost and support for the latest technological features offered by nVidia. This level of performance and features allows you to play the latest games at reduced resolution or some old classics with great ease.
We can certainly see a card like this being suitable for those who use their machine seldom for gaming. The simple heatsink fan combination provided great cooling with little noise and even allowed us to squeeze a bit more out of the card through overclocking.
Variable memory capacity thanks to TurboCache
Respectable performance given price
An inexpensive alternative to integrated graphics for light gaming office workers
Doesn't support high resolution gaming
Overclockers Online would like to thank Albatron for making this review possible.