Canopus Spectra 5400 PE - Page 5

The Moment Of Truth
First, let’s look at the system specifications used for the testing:

System Specifications
First, my initial system specs for the benchmarks:

  • P3 450 @ 504MHz (4.5 x 112MHz)

  • 128MB LGS RAM

  • ABIT BH6 MB (LH BIOS)

  • 01 x 13GB Quantum CR Ultra-ATA66 HDD (5400 rpm); 01 x 10.1 GB Seagate Ultra-ATA66 HDD (5400rpm); 01 x 6.4GB IBM HDD (5400rpm)

  • Canopus Spectra 5400 PE (Ultra TNT2 / 32MB onboard) with latest Canopus' 2.08 based drivers; Default settings with core / mem settings at 150 / 183;

  • 01 x Sony 6X DVD-ROM drive

  • 12MB CL V2 SLI

  • SBLive!! Deluxe (Liveware 2.1 drivers)

  • VirataLink 1025 ATM card

  • 17” Mitsubishi DiamondScan 70 monitor (0.28 dpi)

  • Win 98SE

  • Ambient Temperature of 27 degrees Celsius.

Overclockability
The Spectra was tested on a few forms of overclockability - Overclocked AGP bus and Overclocked Core / Mem settings:

a. Overclocked AGP bus
Firstly, I must qualify that my P3 450 system runs perfectly fine at 558MHz with my original non-Ultra V770 32MB (clocked at 162 / 192)... But somehow, the Spectra refused to complete any 3D-benchmarks when the P3 450 was set at 558MHz (124 x 2/3 = 83 AGP bus-speed). This was even at its default settings of 150 / 183! It would boot into windows and 2D functions work just fine, but it would consistently hang in the midst of any 3D-benchmark (3D Mark 99 Max / Quake 2).

As my ABIT BH6 motherboard doesn’t support 117MHz, I had to resort to running at a lower setting of 504MHz (ie. 112MHz FSB = 75 AGP bus-speed) before proceeding. Hence, the reason why my system specs indicates only 504MHz initially for benchmarking.

This restriction would be a major gripe to anybody considering buying the card, especially for those overclocking their CPUs to greater than 112MHz FSB speeds. Guess unless your Motherboard supports some kind of strange multiplier that limits the AGP bus (or till Camino comes about), the Spectra 5400PE may not be an ideal choice.

Okay, okay… I’m not overclocking my system that much anyway. But can I overclock the card to compensate?

b. Overclocked Core / Mem
The Canopus comes with several nifty control utilities, out of which one panel allows the user to set 5 pre-defined core/mem settings, from "Conservative" to "Aggressive".

The various pre-defined settings were cross-verified with Powerstrip to find out the actual Core / Mem values:

  • At setting 1 => 150 / 183 (Little bo-peep speeds…)

  • At setting 2 => 150/190

  • At setting 3 => 150/200

  • At setting 4 => 175/200

  • At setting 5 => 175/210 (Oooh! You know you want some…)

The Spectra made it through all the benchmarks tested without problems at settings of 150/200. But it would hang randomly when tested at a core of 175 and above.

In any case, being an avid tweaker myself, I couldn't resist finding out the limitations of the card via the latest version of Powerstrip (v2.51). Do note that I tested the bulk of the benchmarks at optimal Core / Mem settings to demonstrate the Spectra’s capabilities when pushed to the limit. In addition, TNTCLK wasn’t used, as it seems broken for mem speeds above 200?

Here are my findings:

  • At 170/210 => Passed all benchmarks

  • At 175/210 => Hung after 30 mins of benchmarking in 3D Mark 99 Max (so this implies that 175 core is probably at the verge of instability)

  • At 180/210 => Hung immediately during startup of 3D Mark 99 Max benchmarking.

  • At 170/220 => Passed all benchmarks

  • At 170/225 => Caused strange texture breakages to occur during 3D Mark 99 Max benchmarking (so this implies that 170/220 is probably the optimal settings)

Despite the high-quality 5ns EliteMT RAM on the Spectra 5400PE, it seems that its memory itself isn’t very overclockable, as I have friends with CL Ultra TNT2s that easily reach 220 mem-speed with 5.5ns’ type.

Similarly, the improved cooling by the hydrodynamic cooler doesn’t make the core any more overclockable than other Ultra TNT2 chips.

Hence, in terms of Core / Mem overclockability, I would give the card an average score. However, at 170/220, I can testify to the stability of the settings, as the benchmarks were conducted for 3 hours straight without any lockups for 2 nights now.  

But do the benchmarks SCREAM!!??

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