Canopus Spectra 2500 - Part 4

Test System

Test Bed - Hardware
Motherboard ASUS 440BX P2B, Bios 1006.07 (beta)
Processor Pentium II 333Mhz at 412Mhz (4 X 103Mhz)
Memory 160MB SDRAM
Boot Drive IBM Deskstar 8 8.4Gb (DHEA 38451)
Video Card Canopus Spectra 2500 AGP 16Mb SDRAM, Bios 1.01.04 NTSC
Former Video Card Diamond Viper V330 - PCI 4Mb SGRAM, Bios 4.03.162
Voodoo 2 Card Used Creative Labs 3D Blaster Voodoo 2 12Mb EDO
Test Bed - Operating System Configuration
Operating System Windows 98, 4.10.1998
File System FAT 32
Patches Applied DirectX 6.0 Core
Display Driver (Spectra) v4.10.01.0027-1.00.06, 1024x768, 16-bit color, 85 Hz, Small Fonts
Display Driver (Viper V330) Viper 330, v4.10.01.0127, 1024x768, 16-bit color, 85Hz, Small Fonts
Display Driver (CL Voodoo 2) Direct3D Driver Version 4.10.01.0180-2.17

Benchmarking
As the TNT boards have two clocks which can be tweaked - namely the memory clock and the graphics processor clock, I've played around with the settings to come up with the series of tests.

For the benchmarks, I've drawn up some charts from the zillion GL Quake 2 benchmarks was done. The tests were done with vsych off, anti-aliasing off, and mipmapping off. Also, only Canopus Display Control and EntechTaiwan's Powerstrip were running when the tests were conducted.

I repeated each test 3 times and took the average of 3 runs. The board must complete all 3 runs without hanging before I deemed it stable. Afterwhich, results were recorded and tabulated.

Using Powerstrip 2.26 to overclock the Spectra, I've managed to push the card as far as it could possibly get in Quake 2 and pitted it against the Viper V330 and the Creative Labs V2 12Mb.

The DEFAULT clock speed of the Spectra is 112mhz for the memory clock & 95mhz for the processor clock. To establish the best clock settings, I wanted the best framerates, great reliability as well as no visual defects. That clockrate must also successfully complete the entire suite of benchmarks at ALL resolution without any instability.

After a long series of testing, 120/105 was established as the BEST rate whereby all the above criterion was met. This is the most realistic clock speed anyone should try to clock their Spectra baby.

The last bar on the chart will represent the FASTEST framerates that a crazily overclocked Spectra can achieve. This is the extreme case, which might not work with other resolutions.


Quake II Benchmarks - 640 X 480

Quake 2 Timedemo: demo1.dm2 ( 640 X 480 )

Click to Enlarge

Analysis of demo1.dm2 at 640 X 480 :

  • The V2 card is still the king here, beating the Spectra at DEFAULT clock (112/95) by 9.8 fps or 13%.
  • The Spectra (112/95) beats a Viper (100mhz) by 36.7 fps or 92%.
  • The Spectra at its BEST/reliable (120/105) marginally improves from the default by only 1.6 fps.
  • 78.8 fps was the FASTEST rate I've obtained from the Spectra at 120/108.
  • At this resolution, it would seem futile to overclock the Spectra as the gains are marginal.

Quake 2 Timedemo: demo2.dm2 ( 640 X 480 )

Click to Enlarge

Analysis of demo2.dm2 at 640 X 480 :

  • The V2 card is still the king here, beating the Spectra at DEFAULT clock (112/95) by 9.6 fps or 13%.
  • The Spectra (112/95) beats a Viper (100mhz) by 36.3 fps or 98%.
  • The Spectra at its BEST/reliable (120/105) marginally improves from the default by only 0.5 fps.
  • 74.5 fps was the FASTEST rate I've obtained from the Spectra at 120/108.
  • At this resolution, it would seem futile to overclock the Spectra as the gains are marginal.

Quake II Benchmarks - 800 X 600

Quake 2 Timedemo: demo1.dm2 ( 800 X 600 )

Click to Enlarge

Analysis of demo1.dm2 at 800 X 600 :

  • The Spectra reigns from this resolution onwards.
  • The Spectra at DEFAULT clock (112/95) beats the V2 by 2.9 fps or 5%.
  • The Spectra (112/95) beats a Viper (100mhz) by 31.3 fps or 109%.
  • The Spectra at its BEST/reliable (120/105) was substantially faster than default by 4.6 fps or 8%.
  • 64.9 fps was the FASTEST rate I've obtained from the Spectra at 120/106.
  • Overclocking the Spectra makes good sense here as we see a 8% improvement.

Quake 2 Timedemo: demo2.dm2 ( 800 X 600 )

Click to Enlarge

Analysis of demo2.dm2 at 800 X 600 :

  • The Spectra reigns from this resolution onwards.
  • The Spectra at DEFAULT clock (112/95) beats the V2 by 1.3 fps or 2%.
  • The Spectra (112/95) beats a Viper (100mhz) by 31.4 fps or 117%.
  • The Spectra at its BEST/reliable (120/105) was substantially faster than default by 4.1 fps or 7%.
  • 62.6 fps was the FASTEST rate I've obtained from the Spectra at 120/106.
  • Overclocking the Spectra makes good sense here as we see a 7% improvement.

Quake II Benchmarks - 1024 X 768

Quake 2 Timedemo: demo1.dm2 ( 1024 X 768 )

Click to Enlarge

Analysis of demo1.dm2 at 1024 X 768 :

  • Of the 3 cards, only the Spectra was able to run at 1024 X 768 and above.
  • The Spectra at DEFAULT clock (112/95) scored 38.0 fps.
  • The Spectra at its BEST/reliable (120/105) was substantially faster than default by 3.7 fps or 9.7%.
  • 41.9 fps was the FASTEST rate I've obtained from the Spectra at 120/106.
  • Overclocking the Spectra makes good sense here as we see a 9.7% improvement.

Quake 2 Timedemo: demo2.dm2 ( 1024 X 768 )

Click to Enlarge

Analysis of demo2.dm2 at 1024 X 768 :

  • Of the 3 cards, only the Spectra was able to run at 1024 X 768 and above.
  • The Spectra at DEFAULT clock (112/95) scored 37.5 fps.
  • The Spectra at its BEST/reliable (120/105) was substantially faster than default by 3.5 fps or 9.3%.
  • 41.2 fps was the FASTEST rate I've obtained from the Spectra at 120/106.
  • Overclocking the Spectra makes good sense here as we see a 9.3% improvement.

Quake II Benchmarks - 1600 X 1200

Quake 2 Timedemo: demo1.dm2 ( 1600 X 1200 )

Click to Enlarge

Analysis of demo1.dm2 at 1600 X 1200 :

  • Of the 3 cards, only the Spectra was able to run at 1024 X 768 and above.
  • The Spectra at DEFAULT clock (112/95) scored 15.1 fps.
  • The Spectra at its BEST/reliable (120/105) was substantially faster than default by 1.6 fps or 10.6%, it was also the FASTEST rate at 16.7 fps
  • Overclocking the Spectra makes good sense here as we see a 10.7% improvement.
  • But the low frame rates at such high resolution is unplayable.

Quake 2 Timedemo: demo2.dm2 ( 1600 X 1200 )

Click to Enlarge

Analysis of demo2.dm2 at 1600 X 1200 :

  • Of the 3 cards, only the Spectra was able to run at 1024 X 768 and above.
  • The Spectra at DEFAULT clock (112/95) scored 14.8 fps.
  • The Spectra at its BEST/reliable (120/105) was substantially faster than default by 1.5 fps or 10.1%, it was also the FASTEST rate at 16.3 fps
  • Overclocking the Spectra makes good sense here as we see a 10.1% improvement.
  • But the low frame rates at such high resolution is unplayable.

Quake II Benchmarks - Summary

Quake 2 Timedemo: demo1.dm2 ( FPS at Different Resolution )

Click to Enlarge

Analysis of the Spectra running demo1.dm2 as resolution increases :

  • We see a linear performance drop as we increase resolution from 640 X 480 all the way to 1600 X 1200.
  • Even at up to 1024 X 768, Quake 2 remains fairly playable with about 40 fps.

In Summary :

The OpenGL performance of the Canopus Spectra 2500 is highly enviable. Quakers, on a tight budget, hoping to play at resolutions above 800 X 600 can look to the Spectra as an alternative to a V2 SLI setup. Even at 800 X 600, the Spectra cruises pass the single V2 with ease.

 

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

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