ABIT Siluro GeForce2 MX400 Review

For those who are on a budget but still want passable graphics quality, the GeForce2 MX400 has been the card of choice. Abit has decided to enter this arena, and Sov has tested their Abit Siluro GF2MX400 video card to let you know whether it can stand up to the competition. So come on in and join the fun.
| Oct 31, 2001 at 11:00 pm CST
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: ABIT

Siluro GeForce2 MX400 -

IntroductionThe Taiwanese motherboard manufacturer known as ABIT are well known for their great line of Intel and AMD motherboards. ABIT were among the first companies to introduce software controlled overclocking options of our processors through the BIOS; this was called Softmenu. It has only been recently that ABIT jumped into the multimedia market with their range of Siluro brand video cards. ABit's first success was based on the original nVidia Riva TNT2 Ultra graphics chipset and had 32MB of SGRAM. However, this little beauty still fell behind ASUS and Diamond in overclockability and overall performance. ABIT then released the Siluro GF256. This new card was based on the nVidia GeForce DDR chipset and used 32MB of DDR SDRAM. This card was a hit, with its overclockability and overall performance beating most of the competition. When the nVidia GeForce2 GTS GPU was introduced, ABIT took its time with the release of their next card, titled the Siluro GF2 GTS.With the release of the value market GF2 chipset titled the MX series, ABIT immediately launched its value market card; the Siluro GF2 MX. This card used the original GF2MX GPU and 32MB of SDR SDRAM. Due to ATi releasing the G450 chipset and the introduction of the Kryo II chipset, nVidia needed to release a faster yet cheaper chipset to compete and eliminate the competition. So nVidia took the GF2MX chipset and re-designed them into two models; the GF2-MX200 and GF2-MX400. Today, ABIT has been kind enough to supply us with one of their latest creations in the Graphics world; the ABIT Siluro GF2 MX400.

Siluro GeForce2 MX400 -

The 3 Geforce 2 MX GPU'snVidia over the last year and a half has expanded their offerings for the value market. nVidia's first offering was the original Geforce2 MX chipset. The Geforce2 MX original (we will call it MX1 in our review from now on) was introduced to the public in Q3 of 2000. The whole tech community was anxious to see if nVidia could actually bring a fast yet cost effective solution to the value market. When details of the GF2-MX1 were released, many of the tech media were starting to look down of the GF2-MX1. This was mostly due to the fact that it was a cut down version of the GF2 GTS GPU and most of us remembered the TNT2M64 and TNT2 Vanta failures.After testing samples were released from major manafacturers, the GF2-MX1 won many appraisals and awards as the best value market product ever, and so it should. Outperforming the original Geforce256 DDR cards and still holding 60FPS in Q3A @ 1024x768 was nothing to be overlooked. Things looked pretty good for nVidia at this point. With the only competition being the G400 and ATi's All-in-Wonder performing rather poorly compared to the GF2-MX1, we seemed to be in for a one horse race. However, things change...they always do.After ATi saw that they needed a new chip to compete with the nVidia line, the ATi Radeon was born and so was the ATi Radeon LE. This took the crown away from nVidia, but only just. But the introduction of the Kryo II was the last straw. nVidia needed a new baby to win the market back.When we and other medias got our hands on the GF2-MX1 cards, we noted the remarkable overclockability of the GPU and memory. nVidia decided to take use this to its advantage. First, nVidia needed a new, cheaper card than ATi's Radeon LE and Kryo II cards, so in Q2 2001 the Geforce2 MX200 was born. The GF2 MX200 is a further cut-down version of the GF2-MX1 chipset, supporting a maximum 32MB of 128bit SDRAM or 64bit DDR memory, making this card the super low-cost solution. To take the crown away from Kryo II and Radeon LE, nVidia took the existing GF2-MX1 and increased the core clock and memory clocks, added a passive cooling system to the chipset, and in Q2 2001 the GF2 MX400 was born.Specifications- Second Generation Transform and Lighting (T&L)Two separate engines on the GPU provide for a powerful, balanced PC platform and enable extremely high polygon count scenes. Transform performance determines how complex objects can be and how many can appear in a scene without sacrificing frame rate. Lighting techniques add to a scene's realism by changing the appearance of objects based on light sources. - Digital Vibrance Control (DVC)This allows the user to adjust color controls digitally to compensate for the lighting conditions of their workspace in order to achieve accurate, bright colors in all conditions. Currently this feature is not available on Mac systems.- High Definition Video Processor (HDVP)Turns your PC into a fully functional DVD player and an HDTV player with the purchase of an additional third-party decoder.- TwinView Dual-Display ArchitecturenVidia's multiple display technology, TwinView boosts productivity by enabling the user to have two simultaneous displays without a second graphics board. - nVidia Shading RasterizerBrings natural material properties (smoke, clouds, water, cloth, plastic, etc) to life via advanced per pixel shading capabilities in a single pass.- Unified Driver ArchitectureGuarantees forward and backward compatibility with software drivers. This simplifies upgrading to a new nVidia product because all nVidia products work with the same driver software.- AGP 2X/4X with AGP Texturing and Fast WritesTakes advantage of new methods for transferring information more efficiently and allows content developers to use high quality 32-bit color textures and high polygon count scenes.- Microsoft DirectX 7 and OpenGL Optimizations and SupportDelivers the best performance and guarantees compatibility with all current and future applications and games.- TV-Out ModuleEasy viewing for professionals creating games for consoles such as the Microsoft Xbox.- Digital Visual Interface (DVI) SupportBroad TMDS transmitter support for maximum flat panel compatibility.

Siluro GeForce2 MX400 -

Comparison ListBelow is a table showing just a few of the differences between the Geforce2 MX chipsets that are currently available.
We can see there isn't much difference in memory bandwidth or memory setup between the original MX1 and the MX400. The only real difference here is a faster core clock. The Geforce2 MX200, however, is a different story. The maximum memory buffer has been lowered to 32MB and the bit rate has been sliced from 128bit to 64bit, leaving one huge gap in performance. Looks like the GF2 MX200 is going to be another TNT2M64.Features of the ABIT Siluro GF2 MX400
The photo above shows the new power behind the ABIT Siluro GF2 MX400. Using the new nVidia GF2 MX400 chipset, the ABIT Siluro runs at a default core speed of 200MHz. While the original GF2 MX specifications didn't require a heatsink for the chipset, we are now running the MX400 at overclocked speeds. ABIT has followed nVidia's new specifications and added a rather large green passive cooling heatsink to the GPU. Unfortunately, it is only applied by frag tape and thus doesn't get a very good thermal transfer. Clips and goo would have been more preferable, or a HSF combo would have been even nicer. Now that we have seen the core, lets take a look at the RAM.
The Siluro MX400 uses 8x8MB EliteMT 6ns SDR SDRAM modules for a total of 64MB of SDR SDRAM. These babies run at a default clock of 166MHz, but of course you can squeeze up to 200Mhz+ out of 6ns memory. These 6ns RAM chips are the same chips ABIT used on its original GF2 MX, so memory overclocking should be the same as the old ABIT GF2 MX...which was well above the rest of the pack last time. OverclockingThe ABIT Siluro GF2 MX400, despite already being an overclocked GF2MX chipset, was still surprisingly overclockable. Core speeds reached 212MHz and memory reached 221MHz in our testing. Rather excellent!

Siluro GeForce2 MX400 -

BenchmarkingTest System- Processor: AMD Athlon 1.33GHz- Memory: 256MB PC2100 Kingmax- Hard Disk: Seagate Barracuta ATA-3 UDMA 100 7200RPM- Drivers: VIA 4.05C AGP, nVidia Det3 v12.90- Software Used: 3dMark2000, 3dMark2001, Quake III Arena, Star Trek Armada, Star Trek Voyager Elite Force.Results - 3dMark2000 1024x768
Results - 3dMark2001 1024x768
Results - Quake III Arena 1024x768 32-bit Color
Results - Star Trek Armada 1024x768 16-bit Color
Results - Star Trek Voyager Elite Force 1024x768 32-bit Color

Siluro GeForce2 MX400 -

ConclusionThe new GF2 MX400 really does pull ahead of the pack for a value card, and ABIT has once again shown the way. Speed, stability and overclockability are once again showcased by ABit's design team. With more than enough memory, high clock speeds and very impressive bench results for a value card, we only found one small flaw; no RAM Sinks. The RAM Sinks would have made for extra overclocking performance; but then again, we are dealing with a value card.- ProsFastGF2 MX400 Core64MB RAM- ConsBit Pricey for a GF2 MX400No RAM SinksRating - 9/10

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