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Appeared on: Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Club3D Volari V3XT


1. Introduction

Club3D has been one of the leading VGA vendors in Europe. Apart from the production of all widely known ATi and Nvidia based graphics cards, recently they have set up a collaboration with S3 and XGI, introducing some alternative solutions into the market.

Club3D provided us with one of their first XGI cards, the entry level Volari V3XT AGP.

- Packaging/Bundle

Club3D Volari V3XT

The Club3D Volari V3XT ships in the Club3D package pictured above. Some of the card's features are printed on the bottom right corner of the box such as the 128MB DDR, CRT/DVI/TV-OUT and 8X AGP.

Inside the box you'll find a CD-ROM containing the XGI Reactor Drivers, the XGI User Guide along with an HDTV/TV-OUT cable.


2. Features
Main Features
GPU XG42 V3XT
Memory Brand/Model Hynix HY5DU561622CT-5 (5ns)
Memory Type 128 MB 128-bit DDR
Engine Clock Speed 250MHz
Memory Clock Speed 200MHz (400MHz effective)
Memory Bandwidth 3.2 GB/sec
Pixel Pipelines 2
Vertex Pipelines 1
Fill rate 0.5 Giga pixels /sec
DX Support 9.0
OpenGL Support 1.5
Output VGA / DVI-I / D-Sub
Bus AGP 4X/8X
Processing technology 0.13 micron

The Volari V3XT is built using XGI's XG42 processor. The XG42 features two pixel pipelines and 1 Vertex engine. The stock clock frequency is 250MHz for the GPU and just 200MHz for the memory, resulting in a fill rate of 0.5Gp/s and memory bandwidth equal to 3,200 MB/s.

Even though the Volari V3XT is a budget graphics card, it is anything but featureless. Surprisingly, it fully supports DirectX 9.0 and not in the way the 9200 does (just DX9 compatible) but can render all the impressive DX9 effects. However, the performance is exceptionally slow and you'll notice it in our first few benchmarks.

Here's a table containing some of the cards features as provided by XGI:

TruShader 2.1 Engine
Volari V3XT processors employ XGI's next generation TruShader 2.1 Engine, taking vertex and pixel shading to a new level of realism. Combine this with built-in DirectX® 9 programmability and 3D environments now come alive with cinematic realism and movie-studio quality effects.
BroadBahn Memory Architecture
Volari V3XT processors take advantage of XGI's proprietary BroadBahn Memory Architecture, moving a staggering amount of data between the processor and graphics board memory.
Cipher Video Processor
Volari V3XT supplies the advanced de-interlacing technology. Video files play with a smooth, flicker-free and fluid motion that amazes even industry professionals.
ControlDeck
ControlDeck Software of Volari V3XT supplies a single interface. Users can manage powerful software programs including DesktopPlus, Rotech, Navigator and so on.
Blazing-fast PCI Bus Interface
- 32-bit PCI local bus standard Revision 2.2 compliant
- True AGP2.0 & AGP3.0 Compliant configuration setting
- Hardware auto detect for AGP1.0, AGP2.0 or AGP3.0 mode support
Octa-pipe 3D Engine
- Extreme High performance 256-bit 3D engine
- High order surface tessellation
- Optimized hardware geometry transform/lighting/setup engine
- Compatible with DirectX 9.0 Vertex Shader ver. 2.0
- Fully compliant with DirectX9.0 Pixel Shader ver. 2.0
- 2 sets of high performance pixel rendering pipelines
- Supports Bump Mapping, Mipmapped Cubic Mapping and Volume Texture supports flat and Gouraud shading
- Supports 2-side stencil
- 2X/4X full scene anti-aliasing(FSAA)
Ultimate Performance 2D Engine
- Hardware command queue
- High-speed Direct Draw Accelerator
- Hardware GDI 2000 Accelerator
- Source read-buffer to minimize engine wait-state
- Built-in destination read-buffer to minimize engine wait-state
High Definition TV-OUT Solution with XV301
- PAL and NTSC Systems
- Composite, S-Video, and Component RGB Output Signals
- Macrovision Copy Protection Process Rev. 7.1.L1
- HDTV 480i/480p/1080i/720p YPbPr Output Signals
- A single link TMDS transmitter with excellent scaling capability for TFT LCD panel display
MPEG-2 Video Decoder
- MPEG-2 MP@ML standards compliant
- Supports up to 20 Mbit/sec bit rate decoding
- Hardware Motion Compensation & IDCT
Video Accelerator
- YUV-to-RGB color space conversion
- Bi-linear video interpolation with integer increments of 1/2048
- Complete graphics and video overlay function
- Hardware video decoder interface
- Independent VBI capture
- Supports DVD sub-picture playback overlay
- Built-in independent Gamma correction RAM
Proprietary Cipher Video Processor
- 5 fields per-pixel motion detection de-interlace function, video sources from MPEG decoder, Video capture and AVI interfaces
- Down scaling function and scaling vector as 1/2, 1/4
- Next generation de-interlaced and 1/2 down scaling function
Display Memory Interface
- Supports DDR SDRAM up to 128MBytes memory
High Integration
- Programmable 24-bit true-color RAMDAC up to 400 MHz pixel clock
- Built-in VIP interface
- VESA Plug & Display for PanelLink Interface
- Built-in Thermal Diode for GPU Security-Update
Miscellaneous
- Supports 32K/64K/128K Bytes ROM decoding
- Supports 20MHz SPI ROM interface 720-balls 31mm x 31mm PBGA package

3. A closer look

The Club3D Volari V3XT is one of the slimmest graphics cards we've seen lately.

The front side of the card.(click for hi-res).

A quite large silver painted fanless heatsink is responsible for cooling the card by dissipating the heat across its surface area. Being fanless is one of the most intriguing features the V3XT offers as it makes the card ideal for Video playback or generally building a multimedia/family computer. Also, being that small the card can be easily installed on mini-ATX boxes without taking up much space.

The core of the Volari V3XT

Removing the heatsink from the blue PCB reveals the V3XT core and the memory modules hidden underneath. The V3XT core is the star of the show, providing the graphics card with all its supported features and doing all the rendering.

128MB of Hynix HY5DU561622CT-5 memory

The Club3D V3XT utilizes a set of Hynix HY5DU561622CT-5 (5ns) memories offering a total of 128MB memory capacity.

and out of the case...

One VGA, one DVI and a TV-out output are located on the card's rear.

 


4. Test System

Processor: AMD 4000+
Case: Antec 1080AMG
Motherboard: Asus A8V Deluxe
Memory: 2x512MB OCZ PC-4200 Memory
Hard Disk Drive: WD800JD 80GB 7200RPM
CD-RW: LiteOn LTR-52246S
PowerSupply: Levicom 500Watt
Microsoft WindowsXP Pro SP2
DirectX v9.0c

Benchmarking Software
3DMark05
3DMark03
3DMark2001
Codecreatures Benchmark Pro
AquaMark3 v3.0


5. 3DMark05

With 3DMark05, Futuremark continues the tradition in its benchmarking software by providing a state-of-the-art Microsoft ® DirectX ® 9 3D performance benchmark.
3DMark05 is an all new 3DMark version taking the most out of Microsoft's DirectX 9. The previous version 3DMark03, did a nice introduction into this level of technology. However 3DMark03 used DirectX 9 specific features in a limited manner, because fully supporting hardware was rare at the time of its launch. In contrast, 3DMark05 requires DirectX 9 hardware with full support for at least Shader Model 2, and takes shader usage to never before seen levels.

Just like its predecessors, 3DMark05's point system is set so that at the moment of release, the high-end VGA cards available in stores can only score around 5000 3DMarks, whereas the worst card that meets the programs requirements yields a score of 1000.

 

With a framerate of below 1fps on all three of the game tests, the Club3D Volari V3XT breaks the record for the lowest DirectX 9.0 performance. When 3DMark05 was released, Futuremark announced that the lowest score you'd ever get was around 1000. However the V3XT is the exception to this rule even though it is the cheapest DirectX 9.0 based graphics card.

Final Score

 3DMarks on 3DMark05 are now calculated by the following formula:

(Game Test 1 * Game Test 2 * Game Test 3)^0.33 * 250

This is basically the geometric mean of the total frames in each game multiplied by 250. This means that all game tests are now equal.

Of course, since we were able to literally count all the frames rendered by the graphics card, one by one, the total 3DMarks achieved by the V3XT didn't even go beyond 100.


6. 3DMark03

3D Mark is a widely used and accepted benchmark that stresses the DirectX performance of a VGA card. A very strong point of 3DMark is that it's VGA card measuring is does not require any CPU power. So the resulting fps are a good reference a VGA card's rendering performance. For testing the performance of each card we used the 4 game benchmarks 3DMark has.

3Dmark03 also includes sound and CPU tests as well as some other feature tests.

- Game Test 1 - Wings of Fury (DX7)

This test is a combat flight simulator written for older hardware (DirectX 7). Particles are used a lot in this test - smoke and vapor trails, flak and gunfire, and explosions are produced using point sprites and quads.

- Game Test 2 - Battle of Proxycon (DX8)

This test is a simulation of first person shooter game types. 1.1 and 1.4 Vertex shaders are widely used since all character models are skinned using vertex shaders.This makes this test a good vertex shader comparison for VGA cards.

- Game Test 3 - Trolls' Lair (DX8)

This test should be the favorite of all RPG lovers. It is a cut scene of a female warrior facing two malicious trolls. Again the same vertex and pixel processing is used as in game test 2.

This test also uses post-processing effects, such as Depth of Field and Bloom effects which are widely used in today's game cut scene sequences.

- Game Test 4 - Mother Nature (DX9)

Mother nature represents the level of effects and realism that are possible using 2.0 vertex and pixel shaders, plus some other features that DirectX 9 offers.

In the 3DMark03, performance is slightly better and this time the framerates are above 1fps. Still, only in the first game test which uses DirectX 7 code, were we able to understand what was going on throughout the test.

- 3DMark Official score

If you test your machine with 3DMark, you can post the results at 3DMark's online result browser. For more information visit futuremark.com.

The Volari V3XT managed to yield another low score compared with the other cards. With just 527 3DMarks, both the X300 and X600XT outperform it by 5 and 9 times respectively.


7. Aquamark3 / 3DMark 2001

Since the majority of today's applications and games are compatible with DirectX 9, the need for benchmark applications that use DX 9 has been brought up. The benchmark uses the 3D engine (Krass engine) of the Aquanox game.

Aquamark Triscore

The Aquamark Triscore comprises 3 values: the overall system performance, the performance of the graphics system and the CPU performance. Keep in mind that this is not the total result of the tests, but the result of the whole benchmark process including all 9 chapters.

3DMark 2001

3DMark 2001 is the predecessor to 3DMark03. It's mainly a directx8.1 benchmark and the score depends a lot on the CPU power of your computer. However for reference use only we decided it'd be best to just leave it in our benchmark list so you can compare the next generation cards with the possibly outdated you have at home.

By now we hope we made our point clear. The Volari V3XT unfortunately delivers performance from the past and is not to be used for 3D games.


8. Conclusion

Sincerely, the V3XT is not to be used for 3D games. It is still suitable for playing DirectX 7 and maybe a few DX8 games but the framerates are just too low to enjoy playing. However, all is not lost for the Volari V3XT. Even if it's not manufactured by either Nvidia or ATi, as is the case with most of the cards we're used to, XGI still holds an ace up its sleeve. The card's automatic color adjustment for Video playback seems to work well, creating an excellent Video playback experience. The colours are more vivid and bright and along with the passive cooling on the card, the V3XT is a good choice for Home Theater computers.

The Club3D Volari V3XT costs around €50 as do most entry level cards. We can't say that the card is excellent value for money but on the other hand, no likewise priced card ever is. Still, as it doesn't get any cheaper, the Club3D Volari V3XT could be a good choice for box PC systems tailored towards the Home Entertainment market.

The bundle with the card doesn't include any games but only a CD-ROM with the XGI Reactor drivers, XGI's Undersea Lab and XGI's User Guide for the card.

Pros:
- Silent operation
- Good video image quality

Cons:
- Unsuitable for games

Performance/Features:
Value for money:
Bundle:


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