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ABIT R9550-256Guru (Radeon 9550 256MB AGP)
By Vincent Chang
Category : Graphics
Published by Vijay Anand on Thursday, 4th August, 2005
Rating : 4 out of 5 stars  

A Tale of Two BIOS

It is the best of times for overclocking fanatics, with many hardware vendors conjuring various models catering to the enthusiast market. Over the years we've seen great leaps and bounds in the progression of overclocking friendly tools, such that even the typical consumer would have some inkling on what overclocking means by now.

However, looking at the situation in the opposite light, one could perceive this as the worst of times. After all, what comes after a peak but an inevitable decline? Are we reaching a saturation point for overclocking, where almost anything possible has been tried? Overclocking has gone mainstream, been simplified, and now even automated. The Wild West has been tamed so what happens to the cowboys now? Would the more elitist enthusiasts move on to other challenges now that their obsessions are no longer accorded cult status? The reality is not as dire as we have depicted and depending on your point of view, it could be either way. While we may not have the definitive answer, our observations indicates that the urge to overclock is still flowing strongly in the veins of the hardcore enthusiasts, albeit they've moved on to more advanced cooling gear.

To satiate these users, the hardware still has to be geared for such usage and who better to turn to than the established leader in the overclocking arena, ABIT. True to its history, ABIT has always had a deserved reputation for targeting the enthusiasts with its pro-overclocking products. This is the company that made jumperless motherboards famous and offered highly tweakable BIOS through its Softmenu. All are features that we take for granted nowadays. Not to mention that it holds overclocking clinics and has made the headlines for teaming up with one of the most famous professional gamers, Fatal1ty, to design performance oriented hardware for gamers and enthusiasts alike.

What we have in our labs today is yet another excellent example of ABIT's goal to make overclocking even more accessible to everyone. Their latest graphics card using ABIT's vGuru technology is based on ATI's low-cost mainstream AGP 8x based Radeon 9550 VPU (visual processing unit). What's so new about a Radeon 9550 card at this point of time you ask? As we have found out, this unusual card, the ABIT R9550-256Guru does not only have ABIT's vGuru overclocking and hardware monitoring tools; it also has two different modes of operation, a Normal and a Turbo, which can be triggered via a jumper that switches between the two BIOS signatures present within the card. It is also one of the rare few cards of this caliber that's equipped with a generous and perhaps excessive 256MB frame buffer. Before we continue further, let us take a look at the card and the technical mumbo-jumbo specs.

What does ABIT bring to its special Guru-branded RADEON 9550? You'll find out soon enough on the following page and it's definitely delectable.

ABIT R9550-256Guru Technical Specifications
Graphics Engine
  • ATI Radeon 9550 Visual Processing Unit (VPU)
  • VPU clock = 250MHz (Normal Mode)
  • VPU clock = 300MHz (Turbo Mode)
  • 4 parallel rendering pipelines
  • 2 parallel geometry engines
  • 128-bit memory interface
  • AGP 8X/4X/2X
    • Full support for Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 programmable vertex and pixel shaders in hardware
    • 2.0 Vertex Shaders
      • Supports vertex programs up to 65,280 instructions with flow control
    • 2.0 Extended Pixel Shaders
      • Supports up to 1,536 instructions and 16 textures per rendering pass
      • 32 temporary and constant registers
      • 128-bit, 64-bit & 32-bit per pixel floating point color formats
      • Multiple Render Target (MRT) support
    • Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL® via extensions
    • 2x/4x/6x full scene anti-aliasing modes
      • Sparse multi-sample algorithm with gamma correction, programmable sample patterns, and centroid sampling
      • Lossless Color Compression (up to6: 1) at all resolutions
      • Temporal Anti-Aliasing
    • 2x/4x/8x/16x anisotropic filtering modes
      • Up to 128-tap texture filtering
      • (Adaptive algorithm with bi-linear (performance) and tri-linear (quality) options)
    • 3-level Hierarchical Z-Buffer with early Z test
    • Lossless Z-Buffer compression (up to 48:1)
    • Fast Z-Buffer Clear
    • Z cache optimized for real-time shadow rendering
    • Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time
    • FULLSTREAM™ video de-blocking technology for Real, DivX, and WMV9 formats
    • VIDEOSOAP™ noise removal filtering for captured video
    • All-format DTV/HDTV decoding
    • Adaptive Per-Pixel De-Interlacing and Frame Rate Conversion (temporal filtering)
  • Dual integrated display controllers
  • Single and dual link external TMDS transmitter support for high resolution and/or multi-monitor DVI configurations
Graphics Memory
  • Memory clock = 400MHz DDR (Normal Mode)
  • Memory clock = 500MHz DDR (Turbo Mode)
  • Dual integrated 10-bit per channel 400 MHz DACs
  • Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI 1.0 compliant and HDCP ready)
I/O Faceplate Connectors
  • DVI-I connector
  • mini-DIN output
  • Standard VGA monitor output
Drivers & Software
  • Driver support for Windows 98SE / Me / 2000 / XP
  • vGURU Utility
  • CyberLink PowerDVD 5.0
Other Information
  • AGP 2.0 / 3.0 slot required (1.5V)

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