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Triplex Xabre Pro Review

The graphics market is heating right up lately with a lot of different high end solutions emerging. For those though who are after a budget card which performs fairly well, you really can't go past SiS' latest Xabre400 chip. Today Asher "Acid" Moses" takes a look Triplex's Xabre400 solution, namely in the Xabre Pro.
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Published Sun, Jul 28 2002 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:25 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Triplex

Triplex Xabre Pro - Introduction

IntroductionA new budget graphics chipset is upon us - the SiS Xabre 400. SiS have been quite successful in the motherboard chipset industry in the past, with their SiS645DX and more recently, SiS648 chipsets performing on par with the likes of competing VIA and Intel chipsets - if not better. However, in the graphics chipset industry, SiS have not been as successful due to the fact that their products have nearly always been directed at users requiring strong 2D performance and a rich feature-set, rather than high-end gamers.Looking to change this, SiS have recently introduced their latest graphics chipset, the Xabre 400. Being the first to feature both AGP 8x and DirectX 8.1 support, the Xabre 400 certainly looks like an awesome chipset on paper. It also features hardware pixel shading, however, lacks a hardware vertex shader, thus forcing vertex shading to be emulated by the CPU. This obviously means that the processor takes greater load, which could create a bottleneck for users running less powerful processors. Although the card features AGP 8x, it is unlikely that this will have any affect on real-world performance. This is due to the fact that the extra bandwidth is potentially underutilised because once texture data is transferred to the card's local memory, the bus sits relatively idle. As current games are yet to utilise a video card's available memory, it's unlikely that the AGP bus will be heavily accessed, rendering fast AGP transfer rates useless. This is also the reason why we have not seen a significant performance difference between AGP 2x and AGP 4x.I will not go too deep into the technical specifications of the chipset as these have already been discussed in great details in our original review of the chipset. In this article I will mainly be focusing on the card itself and how it compares to nVidia's competing chipsets.The first graphics card to hit the market featuring the SiS Xabre 400 chipset is the Triplex Xabre Pro. How does it compare against the competition and most importantly, is it worth your hard earned dollars? Let's find out.

Triplex Xabre Pro - Specifications

Specifications- AGP Interface AGP8X-AGP3.0 compliant (Xabre Lite only for AGP4X) Support hardware auto detect for AGP1.0, AGP2.0 , AGP3.0 mode support- High Performance & High Quality 3D Acclerator Built-in a high quality 3D engine Support DircetX8.1 PixelizerTM Pixel Shader Ver 1.3 Support Bump Mapping, Cubic Mapping and Volume Texture Supports 2X/4X full scene Jitter-Free Anti-Aliasing Built-in high performance VLIW 3rd Generation T&L Engine- High Performance 2D Accelerator Built-in hardware command queue Built-in direct Draw Accelerator Built-in GDI 2000 Accelerator Maximum 128 MB frame buffer with linear addressing Supports AGP8X 533 MHz data read for all 2D engine functions- MPEG II/I Video decoder Motion Compensation layer decoding architecture Supports up to 20 Mbit/sec bit rate decoding Supports VCD, DVD and HDTV decoding- High Integration Built-in programmable 24-bit true-color RAMDAC up to 375MHz pixel clock Built-in standard feature connector logic support Built-in VIP interface(no host interface) Built-in TV Encoder Interface Built-in flash ROM programming interface Built-in VESA Plug & Display for panel Link Interface- Dual Scene Technology Companion with SiS301, support LCD+CRT,CRT+CRT,CRT+TV dual view function- Xminator XP Unified driver Optimizes DirectX8.1 and OpenGL 1.3 for Windows XP/Windows9X/Windows2000 - Frictional Memory Control (FMC) Architecture The Xabre Family series Graphic Processing Unit integrates Frictionless Memory Control architecture to boost effective memory bandwidth and improve overall memory efficiency. Basically, this means even faster and smoother frame rates when running heavy loading applications such as games etc.- Coloredeemer Technology This is a sweet and simple technology to greatly enhance the color rendering of the display. This provides full-frame rage, full-screen, high quality color enhancement to make objects more vivid and realistic. Seeing is believing. - MotionFixing Video processor Crystal clear video image is made possible by this eye-catching feature. Supports 4 fields per-pixel motion detection de-interlace function, video sources from MPEG decoder, Video capture and AVI interfaces. - Cubiclook Utility The CubiclookTM utility support wired and wireless stereo glass, AGP driver detection and over-clock function.

Triplex Xabre Pro - Taking A Closer Look

Taking A Closer Look- Package Contents
Upon opening the box you are greeted with a driver CD, a detailed User's Manual, an S-Video cable and a DVI-to-VGA convertor. I was quite pleased to see the DVI-to-VGA convertor included with the card as it enables users to run dual VGA monitors without having to purchase a separate convertor.- The Card
The Triplex Xabre Pro runs at a 250MHz/250MHz (500MHz DDR) core/memory clock speed, which obviously means that SiS are targeting the low-end gaming market with the Xabre 400 chipset. The card also features 64MB of Hynix memory rated at 3.6ns. Hynix memory chips have been known for their high overclocking potential and we'll see if this trend continues a little later on in the review.
The component layout of the card is virtually identical to that of SiS's reference board, however, there is a big difference as far as aesthetics are concerned. Firstly, the card features a shiny silver PCB, which is certainly a plus for users that like to show off their PC's innards through window kits, etc. It also features a sexy silver heatsink/fan unit with a handsome amount of thermal grease separating it from the Xabre 400 core.
It is important to note that there are no memory heatsinks on the card. This is most likely due to the fact that the heat produced by the memory chips was not great enough to warrant any extra cooling, thus reducing the overall price of the card.The card also features a DVI output, a TV output and dual monitor support - all handled by the SiS 301 controller. During testing we found this controller to be of extremely high quality and the TV out image quality proved to be significantly better than what we've seen from other manufacturers in the past.

Triplex Xabre Pro - Benchmarks - Quake 3 Arena

Benchmarks- Test SystemProcessor: Intel Pentium 4 2GHzMotherboard: Abit IT7Memory: OCZ 256MB PC2700 DDR SDRAMVideo Card: Triplex Xabre PRO, Abit Siluro GF4MX440Hard Disk: Quantum Fireball Plus LM 15GB 7200RPMDrivers: 27.20 Detonator drivers, DirectX 8.1Operating System: Windows 2000 ProfessionalSoftware Used: Quake III Arena, 3DMark2001 SE and Max PayneResults - Quake III Arena High Quality 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1600x1200 32-bit colorQuake III Arena is a real-world OpenGL benchmark that we have been using here at TweakTown for quite a while now because it has proven itself to be one of the best gaming benchmarks around to compare a range of different products.

Triplex Xabre Pro - Benchmarks - 3DMark 2001 SE

Results - 3DMark2001 SE 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1600x1200 32-bit color3DMark2001 SE is the latest installment in the popular 3DMark series. By combining DirectX 8.1 support with completely new graphics (including the GeForce4), it continues to provide benchmark results that empower you to make informed hardware assessments.

Triplex Xabre Pro - Benchmarks - Max Payne

Results - Max Payne High Quality 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1600x1200 32-bit colorMax Payne is a very popular, graphics intensive game that features full DirectX 8.0 support. Like Quake III Arena, Max Payne is able to run various time demos that test your system's performance under intense game play.

Triplex Xabre Pro - Overclocking & Conclusion

OverclockingWe overclocked the card using the Triplex overclocking tool supplied on the driver CD. We were not able to clock the card any higher than 30MHz over its default core/memory clock speeds, which had a very small effect on its overall performance. I highly doubt this problem was caused by inadequate cooling or a limitation of the chipset itself, but rather a driver issue. If you are planning on overclocking, I suggest you stay away from the Triplex Xabre Pro until this issue has been sorted out.ConclusionOverall, I was very pleased with most aspects of the Triplex Xabre Pro. It provides a variety of useful features including a DVI output, a TV output and dual monitor support. On top of this, it performed very admirably against its main competitor, the GeForce4 MX, coming out ahead in all benchmarks performed. Finally, its silver PCB and stylish heatsink/fan unit are also a nice touch for modders who like to show off their PC's internals. The only area this card falls short in is overclocking, as we had a hard time getting it to run just 30MHz over its default speed.That said, at a price of around $AUD198, this could very well be the video card of choice for gamers on a budget - coming in at over $AUD10 cheaper than the GeForce4 MX440 whilst still managing to provide higher performance. The bottom line is, if you are looking for a high performing, feature-rich budget graphics card but are not planning on overclocking, don't go past the Triplex Xabre Pro. - Pros High performing Great value DVI output TV output Dual-monitor support- Cons Disappointing overclocking results Lacks a hardware vertex shaderRating - 9/10

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