Biostar 7600GS (V7603GS21)Dec 22nd, 2006 | By Archive
Biostar 7600GS (V7603GS21)
: 12/22/06 – 02:15:50 AM
: Video Cards
Page 1 : Index
The Biostar name is easily found on any number of computer enthusiast and overclocking web sites, usually in the motherboard section where users are raving about the T-Series line of motherboards. Biostar has actively pursued the enthusiast by making the T-Series a reputable name in motherboard overclocking discussions. This dedication to performance has poured over into their video card line known as E-Gate.
The GPU market is flooded with competitors and it is hard to distinguish one from the next when, many times, there are very little differences between a particular card aside from the heatsink and fan assembly. The mid-range of video cards is especially crowded because that is the market where the majority of users will select their hardware from. Biostar has found a way to separate themselves from the ambitious crowd with their newest video card, the E-Gate 7600GS (V7603GS21) with the revolutionary V-Ranger overclock tool.
What makes the Biostar E-Gate 7600GS different from other 7600GS offerings out there? The answer to that question is V-Ranger. V-Ranger is the first software overclocking tool that allows dynamic voltage regulation of the video card. The V in V-Ranger obviously stands for voltage but this software allows for voltage and frequency adjustments that will cater to a higher overclock and better performance at the same time as reducing power consumption and temperature when not needed. Obviously I am more interested in the overclocking aspect but this new software, V-Ranger, certainly has something to offer everyone.
Page 2 : Package
We get started on the E-Gate 7600GS with a quick look at the package that it comes in from Biostar.
The package that the 7600GS comes in is nothing out of the ordinary for a video card. There are a bit of flashy graphics, some logos to advertise some features, and a scantily clad animated female character front and center. This is about the norm for the market that this product is intended for so there are no surprises.
At the bottom of the package we find the Model #, the type of GPU, memory specifications, and connections available. I can already see that the video card inside has 256MB of onboard memory with only a 128bit interface width. The connections offered on this card are listed as VGA, DVI, and HDTV which indicates some sort of component lead from the card.
The "NASCAR driver suit" style of the right hand side of the package is sprinkled with emblems and logos, comprised mostly of the NVIDIA flavor. There is the ROHS sticker which indicates that the product meets ROHS specifications as well as a 256MB DDR3 sticker down at the bottom. This means that the memory onboard will be DDR3 and put this card at the top of the 7600 series food chain as far as memory performance goes.
The Sides of the package continue in the NVIDIA theme with a pair of stickers that provide the vital specifications and features. You can't really read the list in this image but I will be covering the points mentioned here in the Specifications page in just a minute.
The rest of the package edges are reserved for the Biostar and E-Gate logos as well as the GeForce 7600 series logo.
The rear of the package, like the edges and front, contains plenty of NVIDIA green and information about the features that NVIDIA graphics processing units bring to the table. As I said just above, I won't be going into detail about what is listed here as I will cover that on the next page, so let's do that now.
Page 3 : Specifications & Features
I have looked at a few 7000 series NVIDIA video cards in the last couple of months and I mentioned in those reviews that the 7000 series from NVIDIA encompasses everything from very low-end to ultra high-end and the feature list on all of these models reads the same. That feature list includes the following:
NVIDIA® Intellisample 4.0 Technology
Full Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 Support
NVIDIA® UltraShadow II Technology
NVIDIA® SLI Technology
NVIDIA® PureVideo Technology
Built for Microsoft® Windows Vista
What all these features mean is that despite the 7600GS not being at the top end of the food chain, it still retains all the benefits of the higher up cards with the only difference between it and say the 7950GX2 is the memory and core performance. All the additional features, such as the incredible video playback technology of NVIDIA PureVideo, are the same. Here is a small blurb from the NVIDIA web site about the NVIDIA 7600 series of video cards:
Engine Clock: 400MHz
Memory Clock: 700MHz
Memory Type: DDRIII
Memory Size: 256MB
Memory Bus: 128-bit
TV-Out: S-Video / Composite / Component
Page 4 : Contents
It is now time to open the package up and see what all comes with the Biostar 7600GS as well as a look at the card itself.
The compartmentalization of this package would lead us to believe that there is a bunch of accessories that will be coming with the 7600 GS, but that is not the case. The rather large manual covers installation of the hardware, software, and basics of the software such as SLI enabling and multi display setup in a number of different languages. There is also a single CD that contains drivers and the included Biostar software.
The outer compartments only contain a single dongle and that is the S-Video, composite, and component output dongle. The only other compartment to have anything in its clutches is the center one below the manual and installation CD. This is where the video card is safely stowed during transport and from the image above, it is clear that the card is well protected.
These are the complete contents of the package on display. From left to right we have the manual and installation CD, the break-out dongle, and the 7600 GS. Since no cables are supplied, in order to use the dongle for any of its outputs the user will have to have those cables. This has become accepted practice for some time with this range of video card and if it helps keep costs down, I am more than fine with it.
The Biostar E-Gate 7600GS is a very un-assuming card that appears to be no more intricate or advanced than that of the 7300GT or X1650Pro that I have recently looked at. The heatsink and fan are quite small and appear to be very simple.
Two push-pins hold the heatsink in place and from this angle, it is evident that the heatsink has no interaction with the onboard memory. The design of this heatsink is very straight forward with a fan in the middle blowing air out over the fins in all directions. A decorative top plate is in place to help channel the air over the heatsinks fins.
The power regulation portion of the video card should benefit somewhat from the heatsinks airflow as will the memory, but neither should be getting that hot so active cooling really isn't required. This 7600GS appears to exclusively use United Chemi-Con KZG capacitors which are known for a low ESR/impedance rating and have an operating upper temperature limit of 105C.
The 256MB of DDRIII memory is Samsung part #K4J52324QC-BC14. This specific memory is quite familiar to me since the last two video cards I looked at have the same variation of ICs. The BC14 status of these ICs put them at a rated 700MHz @ 1.8V± 0.1V. These are a step up from the BC20 found on the Biostar 7300GT that I reviewed at the beginning of October.
As I work back towards the front of the card we have a look at the heatsink again and can see that despite the fact that the heatsink doesn't interact with the memory directly, the airflow from the fan should help sweep heat generated by the memory away. I will now pop out the two push-pins holding it in place and have a look underneath.
I must admit, despite the fact that this comment is worthless, NVIDIA has the easiest to photograph dies. The etching on their dies is impeccable and very clear to read, there is no mistaking the NVIDIA across the top and G73 along the bottom. Sitting on the die is the heatsink and the heatsink provided with this 7600GS isn't the smoothest, it is actually quite rough, but the contact is perfect as seen by the underside in the above photo so temperatures should be just fine.
Like all NVIDIA based video cards from the 6600 series and up, the 7600GS is fully SLI compatible.
The outputs of this 7600GS consist of a VGA and DVI connector as well as the TV out dongle that we saw earlier which offers S-video, composite video, and component video output.
Page 5 : Installation & Overclocking
Video cards aren't really a difficult installation and when your dealing with single slot cooler designs, there is hardly ever issues. I still like to take a couple photos of the card in the primary PCI-E X16 slot so our readers can see how the card fits in the motherboard.
The Biostar E-Gate 7600GS is basically the same size as 7300GTs and like I said, a single slot cooler really makes the installation straightforward for most users.
I threw a second card (Biostar 7300GT) in the bottom slot just to show how they both fit on this particular motherboard and as you can see, the top PCI-E X1 slot is left un-usable but the PCI-E X4 slot is definitely open and available. There honestly arent many modern video cards that would allow that top PCI-E X1 slot to be used so the fact that the 7600GS blocks it really is no surprise.
On the LanParty UT NF590 SLI-M2R/G, the memory slots are somewhat close to that top PCI-E slot but with absolutely nothing on the back of the PCB of the 7600GS, there is plenty of room here.
This is how the setup will be arranged for testing this Biostar 7600GS. The 7600GS is really a small and un-assuming card. It is no bigger or more obtrusive than an X1650PRO or 7300GT but hopefully its performance surpasses both of them with ease. I will now shift my focus to the new Biostar V-Ranger software and the overclocking ability of this video card.
The overclocking utility that comes with the Biostar 7600GS, as you can see, isn't very straight forward. The Graphic User Interface has buttons scattered about and only after you mouse over them do we get a pop up explaining the buttons function. It takes a few minutes to find out where all the buttons are but after that we are ready to roll. I can only recommend for manufacturers to not make their GUIs so obscure and fancy. Simplify the interface and users will thank you for ever. With that said, this is a list of options (from top left in a clockwise rotation) that we are provided with:
3D Program Test
Reset Default VGA
When you click the V-Ranger button, we have to accept a warning disclaimer and then a new GUI opens up. This one is similar to the first but less cluttered. Initially the two bottom sections are not there but after clicking on the yellow buttons around the bottom edge, they extend out. The fan control section is to the bottom right and the voltage control is to the bottom left. I tried playing with the fan control but simply switching to the DTM Mode made the screen flicker and I found no use in that section so we skip ahead to the voltage control.
In the screenshot above, I have adjusted the voltages to the maximum that the software allows. This puts the
from the default of 1.149v. The memory voltage can also be adjusted and at default it is listed as 1.823v but the maximum goes up to
. As I mentioned earlier, I wasn't having much fun with the Biostar provided overclocking software so I will simply be using the V-Ranger tool for the voltage adjustments and then relying on ATITool as I usually do for the overclocking. Let's see what this card will do.
This is the max overclock with the voltages pushed as far as the V-Ranger software would go.
715MHz Core (1.381v) / 880MHz Memory (2.131v)
are the highest stable frequencies I could achieve. I use the ATITool scanning for artifacts as it does a good job of testing overclocks I find. It had been running for 3 hours at the time of the screenshot. The core and memory would overclock more but I would get artifacts in ATITool and some benchmarks wouldn't completely stable.
With the voltages left at default, I was able to overclock the 7600GS to
590MHz Core (1.149v) / 800MHz Memory (1.823v)
. So even if you don't want to mess with voltages, there is still plenty of headroom in this 7600GS. Keep in mind that the 7600GS is basically rejected 7600GT cores so it's not surprising to see these kinds of overclocks.
Page 6 : Test System
We just saw how much of a beast this Biostar E-Gate 7600GS is in the overclocking department and based on that, I am expecting some very good results in the benchmarks with the overclocked frequencies.
CPU: AMD64 X2 4000+ @ 3000MHz (1.50v)
CPU Cooling: Thermalright Ultra-120
MB: DFI LanParty NF590 SLI-M2R/G
RAM: OCZ DDR2 PC2 7200 Platinum XTC EPP @ DDR1000 4-4-3-5
PSU: OCZ GameXStream 700W
HD: Seagate SATAII 80GB 8MB NCQ
OS: Windows XP SP2 (with all updates)
Biostar 7600GS 256MB DDRIII
– ForceWare 91.47
The video cards that will be compared to the Biostar 7600GS should make for some close battles in the benchmarks. Before we get to the benchmarks though, I want to have a look at the temperature of this card when under load.
I simply let Scanning for artifacts run for two hours and you can see the temperature is a steady 54C at the stock frequencies. At idle, the temperature hovers around 35C. In the overclocking section we saw the screenshot at 715MHz core / 880MHz memory with the temperature at 68C under load. Anything over 70C seemed to throttle the video card. Despite the size, this little heatsink and fan on the 7600GS is quite impressive.
Page 7 : Synthetic Testing
Before we get started looking at results, here is a brief excerpt from an explanation of my testing method from another video card review:
3DMark 01 se / 03 / 05 / 06
We are off to the races and the 7600GS is off to a great start. Even at the conservative stock clocks of 400/700, the 7600GS easily outpaces the rest of the cards in all tests with the exception of 3DMark 05 where the X1650Pro seems to stand out. With the huge overclock this sample was capable of, the Biostar 7600GS outclasses the rest of the cards tested. Almost cracking 16000 in 3DMark 03 is an impressive feat and indicates solid performance in 3D gaming.
The stock speeds of the 7600GS have it pretty much even in all the benchmarks with the 7300GT. I found that interesting and would have assumed that the 7600GS would slightly outperform the 7300GT in all applications. This is obviously not the case. It is now time to look at some gaming benchmarks now. As always, I start with Battlefield 2.
Page 8 : Battlefield 2 Benchmarks
I continue to benchmark Battlefield 2 for video card reviews but that will change after this Biostar 7600GS review as I have all but got a process down for benchmarking BF2142 consistently with a custom time demo. As it stands, I use a variation of Guru3Ds BF2 benchmark utility found here. Let's look at the results at 3 different resolutions.
The 7600GS at stock frequencies has enough horsepower to compete with all the video cards I have looked at thus far in my reviews. Even as the workload increases with higher resolutions and/or increased quality with the introduction of Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering, the 7600GS stays a solid margin ahead of even the highly competitive X800GTO. Once we overclock this mid-range beast, it isn't really a competition anymore. I keep going back to how conservatively clocked this card is and feel that everyone who owns one should take advantage of the overclocking of this Biostar 7600GS for gaming. The benefits are clearly there with a solid 77FPS average at 1600×1200 without AA or AF.
Page 9 : DOOM III Benchmarks
DOOM III is in its golden years as far as video games go but it is still a beast on video cards and I will continue to use it as a benchmark in my reviews for a while I would imagine. Going into the results, I want to be sure everyone is clear that NVIDIA based video cards have an advantage in DOOM III because of the OpenGL driven engine. That is the reason the ATI cards fall behind in these results so we are really just comparing the Biostar 7600GS to the 7300GT.
The 7600GS showed an even advantage over the 7300GT throughout the resolution range and again, completely walked away from the 7300GT at the overclocked frequencies. I will remind you that before the voltage adjustments where made with the Biostar V-Ranger software, the 7600GS overclocked to a stable 590MHz at the core and 800MHz on the memory which is about half-way between the final overclocked values and the stock frequencies. This added boost really outlines how the V-Ranger software and voltage adjustments get the most performance out of this card. The final overclocked frequencies of the Biostar 7600GS really put this card in another performance bracket from the cards we are comparing here.
Page 10 : FarCry Benchmarks
I don't try to hide the fact that FarCry is my favorite first person shooter that is out there right now. Something about the islands and scenery provide a soothing elegance to sniping from a crouched position in a bush on the hillside. When Crysis comes out next year, I will almost certainly like it just as much but that is a good bit of time away yet so I will continue to use FarCry in my benchmarking suite until then. Like all the other games benchmarked here today, the detail level is set to the maximum for all resolutions.
The FarCry benchmark results are more of the same but the X800GTO really puts up a fight to the 7600GS at the stock frequencies at all resolutions. At the overclocked frequencies, the 7600GS is more than capable of running FarCry at 1600×1200 or even 1280×1024 with 4xAA and 8xAF. It is hard to distinguish which of those to would look best but either are definitely do-able with the Biostar 7600GS.
Page 11 : Half-Life 2 Benchmarks
Half-Life 2 is the least of a strain on the video card from the games we have looked at today. The STEAM engine it is based on really gives video cards a break, but that doesn't mean that higher resolutions and AA/AF won't bring the average FPS down from lower resolutions with less detail. Again, detail levels are all maxed for the benchmarks.
At the 1024×768 with no AA or AF, there is virtually no difference in performance between the cards because the system is the limitation at that point. With AA and AF turned on, even at the lowest resolution tested of 1024×768, the 7600GS already shows it is the class of the field. As the resolution is increased the X800GTO seems to almost keep pace with the stock frequencies of the 7600GS. Of course once the E-Gate 7600GS is overclocked, that changes as it pulls far out ahead much like it has in every game we have looked at.
Page 12 : F.E.A.R. Benchmarks
The last of the games I will be looking at is the hardest of the bunch on video cards. F.E.A.R. has set a whole new level of video card requirements with its heavy shaders and intense GPU requirements. The mid-range group of cards we are looking at today aren't going to be playing F.E.A.R. at anything but lower detail levels and moderate resolutions but I still do the benchmarks with all details turned on and to their maximum except Soft Shadows which was turned off for the benchmarking of these cards.
I have been impressed with the performance of this Biostar E-Gate 7600GS throughout the testing but what it has accomplished here with F.E.A.R. is a bit more than I have expected. Look at the 1600×1200 resolution results. The Biostar 7600GS has managed to hold and average of 50FPS in its overclocked state which is almost double that of any other card in the testing. It might not be completely playable at that resolution but keep in mind, the detail levels are maxed out so with a few adjustments, F.E.A.R. could be made to play at 1600×1200 with the Biostar 7600GS.
Page 13 : Conclusion
The Biostar E-Gate 7600GS is a ground breaking video card but not because of the hardware, but because of the software that it comes with. The Biostar V-Ranger software is the first of its kind and we saw from the overclocking section that the ability to increase memory and core voltage has its advantages, being able to do it so easily from software is just the icing on the cake.
The overclockability of this Biostar 7600GS is not something we see that often these days. I managed an almost 80% stable overclock on the GPU core and over a 25% overclock on the lightning fast DDR3 memory. The memory overclock is about par for the course but the core overclock is just down right insane. The voltage adjustments offered by the V-Ranger software make those overclocks happen but even without the increase in voltage, the Biostar 7600GS still offers a healthy overclock.
The performance increases in both synthetic benchmarks like the FutureMark 3DMark series and real gaming speaks for itself on the previous pages and for the cost of these video cards, they are going to sell like hot cakes. The 7600GS is not far behind the 7600GT and if youre willing to overclock, I would highly recommend the 7600GS over its older brother.
Lights out performance at stock speeds that rival every card in its class
Almost un-believable overclock potential on the CPU core
V-Ranger software voltage adjustments make it all possible
Single slot cooler facilitates SLI use
The Biostar overclocking software isn't my favorite
Not available for sale yet so you are going to have to wait for this impressive video card
Overclockers Online would like to thank Biostar for the review opportunity.