Canopus Spectra 2500 - Part 2


  • nVidia Riva TNT with active heatsink
  • 128-bit graphics engine and memory interface
  • 16 Mb SDRAM for 1920 X 1440 resolution
  • 250Mhz RAMDAC
  • AGP 2X compliant with Sideband addressing mode
  • Programmable Flash ROM
  • S-Video Out and Composite TV-Out connectors
  • 3Dfx-In "reverse passthrough" connector
  • Direct path "internal reverse passthrough" connector for Pure3D II
  • Feature connector for VideoPORT 600

The Spectra 2500 can be said to be the matured sibling of the WitchDoctor with a new and VERY fast graphics chip.

Now, I find myself explaining many many overlapping stuff which you probably already knew since the Spectra's design was inspired by the excellent features of Canopus' previous cards.

Some of the more recently implemented features are the Direct-path connector and the reverse passthrough we see employed on the WitchDoctor card. Another popular item is the Chrontel CH7002D-V TV-Out seen on many of their graphics accelerators.

Simultaneous Monitor & TV-Out

Please refer to Hardware One's WitchDoctor Review for the complete description on how the Direct-path connector, reverse passthrough and the TV-Out work. (More cool photographs!)

Aside from these, the Spectra also comes with a scary looking metallic active heatsink /w fan fixed onto the TNT chip. This suggests that the TNT chip, manufactured under the 0.35 micron process, runs real hot. This was confirmed after my torture tests (more on that later), the fan's metal caging was hot. Thus Canopus had added the fan to enable greater reliability and <sniff>... better overclockability!

Box Contents
Just like the WitchDoctor, my Spectra 2500 came in an unattractive brown cardboard box. However, beneath the odd covering is one of the most anticipated cards from our favourite video card maker.

Click for enlarged image

After collecting the evaluation card from Michael (Convergent Systems), I took my first close look of it in my car. And like many others have described, it is a very small card and you can't help but to wonder how the so much firepower could be packed onto this tiny PCB.

Canopus "chopped" off a small corner of the card, making it smaller than all it's competition and a bit less conventionally shaped. I'm not too sure if it helped improve performance in anyway, but surely shortening the electrical circuits might increase efficiency a little. Also, saving that tiny piece of PCB could have helped reduce costs and save our environment a little (duh???)...

The other attention grabbing feature was none other than the active heatsink that completely hides away the TNT chip. It's metallic case looked mean and I thought the "fan exhausts" were pretty cool looking! (see photograph below)

Active Heatsink
Heatsink /w fan. Notice the exhausts?

Scattered around the TNT chip were 8 pieces of SDRAM chips from Hyundai. According to Michael, these were Hyundai 124Mhz RAM at CAS2 and can be 133Mhz at CAS3. I'll tell you more about my overclocking experience in a little while...

Click for enlarged image

Other items included was a thick "photocopied" user manual labelled "preliminary" on the front cover, a utilities/drivers CD, the 3Dfx reverse passthrough cable, the Direct path connection cable, S-Video and audio cables.

3Dfx Reverse Passthrough Cable
Connects any 3Dfx card to your Spectra
Direct Path Connector
Internal reverse passthrough for Pure3D 2

Examining the manual, it was the usual thorough installation guide that I became familiar with after the WitchDoctor review. However, "preliminary" suggested a "work-in-progress" and I've spotted a couple of misspelled words, which I'm sure would be corrected in the retail manual.

Installation Guide & User Manual - "Preliminary"

Fig 1 Fig 2

The CD was a blue CD-R disc with a printed label pasted onto it. Checking the dates of the drivers showed 20 Aug 98.


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Special Thanks to Mr Michael Tan of Convergent Systems
for the provision of the Canopus Spectra 2500.