Prolink isn't a new company (being founded in 1989), but they haven't really been heard much from until recently. Their video cards and similar products are gaining a reputation of good quality at a reasonable price. With qualities like these, it's looking like a Win - Win situation for all who are in the market for some quality video boards.But before we pat them on the back, let's get down and dirty and see just how good their product line can really be...Today's contestant is their top of the line GeForce3 video card. This particular model is designed for those who not only want top of the line 3d graphics capabilities, but also want to dabble a bit in the regions of video editing. We'll take a look at some of the features included, the software and drivers that come with the retail package, and the hard numbers that are the heart of any performance review. Then and only then will we see how the Prolink handles the task of graphics acceleration.So what are we waiting for? Let's check this card out...
We've probably seen some of these before, but let's just take a quick peek at what you can expect in this flavor of GeForce3. Here are some specs that have been taken directly from the Prolink website:- nVidia GeForce3 Graphics Processor Unit- 200MHz Core Frequency- 230MHz Memory Frequency (effective 460MHz with DDR SDRAM)- nFinite FX Engine (fully programmable)- 64MB 3.8ns DDR SDRAM- 350MHz RAMDAC- 2048 x 1536 Max Refresh @ 75Hz- 128-bit Memory Interface- Full Support for DirectX 8 and OpenGL- DVI Output- TV-Out (S-Video port)So what do all these terms mean for us who want to get the most for our gaming urges? One thing...The GeForce3 video card is KICK-ASS! It will take your 3D world to the next level, and still have room to improve in the future. It also means that you'll finally be able to check out those 3dMark tests that weren't available before because they were not supported by your old hardware.So now that we can see the features of the video card, let's take a look at the card itself. After all, if you're going to shell out the kind of money necessary to buy a GeForce3, then you want to know what you're really getting don't you?
XX-Player -The Card
It seems that a lot of companies are choosing a color scheme to decorate their high-end cards, and the Prolink is no exception. They have chosen the color gold to reflect the attitude of their beast. The PCB is a yellow/gold color, and the heatsinks are also golden in color. Nice, but the coloring is only cosmetic so lets see what else there is.
This card, like other GeForce3 cards on the market today, boasts 64MB of very fast DDR-RAM. It's rated at 3.8ns, so it will be able to handle the stress of some pretty high clock speeds. Also notice that Prolink has included RAM sinks to help dissipate the heat that will be produced by the memory after those all night frag-fests and LAN parties. I think that most folks will agree that any additions that will help components run cooler is a huge plus. After all, a cool computer is a happy one.The fan that is installed atop the heatsink is pretty standard as far as video boards go. It is a slim 40mm fan that will help put a small amount of airflow to the sink. Since active cooling is becoming more and more important to video cards today, it would have been nice to have a bit more airflow from the fan. After all, this is the same fan that was on my old GeForce2 card; and I bought that one the day they came out!
This particular model of video card is designed for a wide variety of outputs. Those who want the ability to display their output onto a TV screen can do so by means of a standard S-Video port. I am personally not a fan of using the .60 or so dot pitch of a television for my output, but there are a lot of people who want the added screen size for gaming. If you fall into this category, then you'll be well served by this card.The XX-Player also includes a Digital Video connection that allows you to send your high-end 3D video signal straight to an LCD monitor. With more folks wanting the smaller footprint of the LCD's, it's nice to see that you won't have to get some sort of converter to be able to use it.
XX-Player -What You Get
The XX-Player comes with a decent line-up of applications for you to play around with. While not vital to the usage of the card, they will help round out the package when you start looking to buy a new GeForce3.- Installation Disk
The first disk shown above is the main Quick Installation Disk. It includes nVidia reference drivers v12.90, DirectX v8.0a, and a User's Manual (in case you lose the printed one that comes with your retail card). One very nice feature is that the Driver Installation portion of the disk is completely automated. You click a link on the title page and the install is finished without you doing anything else. It chooses the proper display adapter, locates the necessary files, and installs them without a hitch. The only thing left to do is to accept the option to reboot after the install is complete.
Another very nice touch is the added Clock Frequencies
screen that is available when you install the drivers from the disk. Considering the fact that the memory on this card is rated at 3.8ns, it's a pretty sure bet that overclocking will enter the game plan of a majority of users at some point. Having the ability to do so within easy reach is just another added plus to the nice features that are available with this card.- Ulead Video Studio SE v4.0
Remember earlier when I said that this model of video card was made for video editing? Video Studio is a program that is designed for making movies on your computer. It allows you to connect a video camera to your system and directly input that signal to the program. From there, you have a simple step-by-step interface that allows you to either make movies, or send out video greeting cards via email. Granted, these are only a couple of examples that are available with this program, but it gives you an idea as to what you can accomplish with it. Also included with the program disk is a manual that shows you exactly how to create your own media.- Power DVD v3.0
I didn't install this program since I use a hardware decoder card in my system with my DVD-ROM drive, but after talking to a large number of friends and fellow reviewers, this particular utility is reputed to be the best available for software DVD playback. It has numerous features that aren't available in other products, and even allows you to capture screenshots of your DVD scenes. Also available from a link given within the program itself is a patch that allows it to be used with WinXP. Given the enthusiasm in the answers that I received from others, I'll go out on a limb here and say that this program is a worthy addition to this package.Another feature discovered in this DVD software program is native support for both Dolby Sound and full-blown 5.1 speaker support. So if you just happen to have a 5.1 compliant card (like many SoundBlaster cards) and some 5.1 speakers, you can get sound quality that will only be matched by expensive home stereo systems. Not too shabby for those who like to watch movies on their PC's.- Cabling
Finally, you get a bit of cabling to make sure that you have the necessary means of connecting your video card to your television. The top cable is a simple S-Video cable, and the other is a standard RCA cable that connects to the set. From there, it's a simple matter of going into the Display Properties
and choosing the TV Output option. Remember that you'll get a bigger picture, but the quality will be very limited due to the high dot pitch of modern TV sets.
OK...Here's what we've been waiting for. BENCHMARKS!
Now that we know what to expect on the inside of the box, let's take a look at what the video card itself can really do. After all, isn't this why we're looking at getting a new GeForce3 anyway?The Test System
Abit KT7A-RAIDAMD Thunderbird 1000 @ 1333MHz256MB Crucial PC-133 CAS2 SDRAMIBM 60GXP 40GB Hard DriveSound Blaster:LiveHitachi CM814 21" MonitorWindows 98SEVIA 4-in-1 drivers v4.33nVidia Detonator v12.90DirectX 8.0aBenchmarking Programs/Utilities
3dMark2000 - Standard settings- All tests run3dMark2001 - Standard settings- All tests runQuake III Arena - v1.11 with Demo001- v1.29h with VIA DemoQuake III Arena testing was done with these settings:- GL Extensions: On- Full Screen: On- Lighting: Lightmap- Geometric Detail: Slider bar set to MAX- Texture Quality: 32 bit- Texture Filter: Tri-Linear- All "Eye Candy" enabled- 3dMark2000
WOW! Nearly hit the 10,000 mark on this pass. Something to consider is that these tests were run on a fresh install of Windows with no optimizations done to tweak the system. With a little work, this card should be able to handily knock down that 10k barrier.For comparison sake, the same system with a GeForce2 MX400 card scored 5317, and a GeForce2 GTS card scored 7152. Talk about getting better performance!- 3dMark2001
I am beginning to see why everyone raves about the GeForce3 series of cards. Over 6000 on a system that hasn't been tweaked is awesome! And the opportunity to finally see those elusive missing tests makes it a sight to behold. While I can't recommend buying a GeForce3 board just to see these scenes, if you get one, you WILL be impressed.Comparison time again...GeForce2 MX400 scored 1709 on this system, and a GeForce2 GTS scored 3078. Nearly double the score and the only difference is the video card. Way to go Prolink!- Quake III Arena
While I was surprised at the closeness of the FPS rates in the low resolution areas, I was amazed at the nearly 60 FPS that I got at 1600x1200 using 32 bit color depth. And since this is an average FPS rate, we're talking a very playable rate at this massive resolution.I also ran the VIA Demo test to see how it would handle the very high polygon counts that occur with that particular map. The results were 43.5 FPS when run at 1024x768x32 and all the settings set to MAX. 30 FPS under these conditions is considered a good score, and this card was able to break right through that range. This is quite an impressive accomplishment!Editor's Note: If you would like to run this demo yourself, it is available for download on our "Files" page. Feel free to see how well your own system handles the stress. =)
So what are we going to do when we get hold of a video card with 3.8ns DDR memory? Why overclock it of course! I started at the standard settings of 200MHz Core/230MHz Memory (460MHz w/ DDR), and started going higher. My best speed attainable was 240 MHz Core/262.5 MHz Memory (525MHz DDR), but I wasn't able to maintain any real degree of stability. I think that if there was some better active cooling in place, that it would be much better suited for these type speeds.What I found to be a very nice speed to run at was 230MHz Core/250MHz Memory (500MHz DDR). I was able to run any benchmarking utility with 100% stability. Now I think that we can see why that 3.8ns memory comes in so handy.Oh...and if you don't feel that you have the knowledge to start mucking around with speed settings, that's all right too. The User's Manual they provide will take you step-by-step through the processes necessary to get the job done right.Conclusion
What can I say? If you have the cash for a GeForce3 video card, then get one. This particular package is designed for those who are wanting to get into the video editing arena, and it has a software package that gets you well on your way to accomplishing that goal. The performance is outstanding and the graphics quality is superb. About the only fault that I can find with this unit is that a larger fan should really have been mounted on top of the heatsink. With the heat that these cards put out, more cooling is always a benefit. A larger fan would also help out in keeping the memory cooler as well. Looking at the fins of the heatsink and the RAM sinks, the excess airflow that spilled over the GPU sink would help out in dissipating the heat from the memory too.Other than that, we have a very solid performing video card that is putting out some solid numbers when it comes to sheer graphics processing power. Add to this the fast memory that almost reaches out and invites you to overclock and you'll see that we have a very solid contender for your graphics needs and desires. The addition of overclocking instructions in the User's Manual is also a nice touch.Bottom line... With so many choices available for the GeForce3 line of video boards, it is sometimes hard to make a decision. If you're looking for the awesome power of a GeForce3 chipset based card, and also want to get into video editing, then take a long, hard look at this card. It ROCKS!- Pros
Awesome performanceFast memoryOne-step driver installationBuilt-in overclocking features- Cons
Fan too small on heatsinkRating - 9/10 and TweakTown's Editors Choice Award