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ELSA Victory Erazor LT Riva 128ZX Review

Date: 11th October 98
by Samuel Setoh Kok Hong

- The Good
- The Bad
- Test System Configuration
- Conclusion
- Rating

- Other video cards reviews

The nVidia Riva 128ZX chipset is a slight upgrade version from its predecessor, the Riva128 chipset, with support up to 8mb, 2x AGP as well as higher resolutions and colour depth. Unlike the newly released Riva TNT, this chipset does not pack too much of a punch as compared with the 2nd Generation Graphics Cards, in terms of performance and graphics quality. The ELSA Victory Erazor LT is a simple Riva 128ZX chipset based card with 8mb SDRAM on board a reasonable high quality PCB. Simplicity is probably what distinguish this card from the rest, without any of the jazz like TV in/output fighting for space on the small PCB. What surprise me was the lack of a heatsink on top of the graphics processor chip as we all know the Riva 128 chip series runs at pretty high temperature.

The documentation was catered more for international distribution purpose with many different languages, and brief content. Information on installation was pretty brief and straight to the point without any detailed description and specification of the card, other than what was listed on the box. Installation was a breeze for the Erazor LT, as Windows 98 immediately recognised the card upon booting up. The difficulty is perhaps to locate the drivers on the CD-ROM provided. Two sets of drivers are located on the CDROM; one with OpenGL ICD and the other without. This might confuse some computer users but as a safe guide, install the one with the OpenGL ICD, even though it is still a Beta 2 version.

The goodies in the package are as follows

  • ELSA ERAZOR LT accelerator card
  • Installation manual
  • CD's with bundled software and driver software
  • CD of arcade games (trial versions)

And here's the updated refresh rates chart for the Erazor LT which differs slightly from the one that is displayed on the original packaging.

Video Card Specifications

Interface AGP 2x
Chipset nVIDIA RIVA 128ZX
Ram 8 MB 125 MHz SEC (SAMSUNG) SGRAM
Data Path 128 bit Bus
RAMDAC 250 MHz
Supported Resolutions 640 x 480 - 1920 x 1200
Supported Refresh Rates 60 - 160 Hz

The Good

The Erazor LT was packed with a high RAMDAC of 250MHz, with 16-bit color pipeline and Z-buffer. The high RAMDAC and on-board memory of 8mb allows the support of higher resolution up to 1600x1200 at 85Hz as compared to the Riva128 based cards.

As mentioned earlier, the good thing about this card is the simple, no-hassle architecture design of the card. The memory chips on the card are the -G8 Samsung SGRAM, which has a supported 125MHz speed limit, and this might add some interesting thoughts to overclocking the card. The whole package also comes bundled with a SILVER demo CD with the following demos. The bonus that comes with the package is a 6 years warranty on the card which is 1-2 years more than the other competitive brands.

The Benchmarks

BenchMarks on the Victory Erazor LT in Windows 98 with DirectX-6 update. OpenGL-ICD was also installed.

ELSA Victory Erazor LT w/ 8mb SDRAM

Benchmarking Softwares 640x480 800x600
WinTune 98 Direct3D 47.92 -
WinTune 98 OpenGL 34.58 -
WinTune 97 2D 40
Quake 2 Timedemo1 w/ OpenGL ICD 31.3 21.7
Wizmark 3.0 35449.2 --
Incoming 25.24 19.55

All test were conducted using the default drivers for both D3D and OpenGL provided for in the package as they were the only drivers available even on the ELSA website.


The Bad

The lack of a heatsink is probably the reason for the low performance of the card as compared to the similar chipset based ASUS V3000EX/TV, where it showed a 6 - 10 fps improvement over the Erazor LT in Quake II. If you want to overclock this baby, think twice if you did not add a heatsink to it. The overall performance is definitely faster than that of the Riva 128 chipset based cards, but this is not the optimal potential of this card as the ASUS V3000ZX/TV shown much higher performance over it. Image quality is pretty much as expected of the speculation on a Riva 128/ZX based card, with no noticeable improvements over the Riva128. The image appeared dark with the default settings and slightly jagged along the edges of objects in Incoming.

There might be some problems trying to set the respective refresh rates if your monitor is not among those listed in the list provided for in the drivers, and this might pose some problems to certain users. Hopefully ELSA will come up with a newer version that automatically detects Plug-N-Play monitors.

Test System Configuration

Processor(s) INTEL Pentium II 233 ( o/c to 266MHz )
Ram 64MB PC-100 Texas Instrument SDRAM
Motherboard Chaintech BX Pentium II Mainboard
HardDrive(s) IBM Deskstar8, 8.4GB
Operating System MS Windows 98 Build 4.10.1998
DirectX Version MS DirectX Version 6
Video Card(s) ELSA Victory Erazor LT
Video Card Drivers Drivers dated 7-24-1998 **

** the older driver was used because the new drivers do not have the OpenGL ICD drivers included.

Conclusion

This goo goo is one low performer for the pricing at around S$160. This is probably due to the lack of a heatsink and thus lower clockrate from the other ZX cards in the market, which explains for the lower speed performance. However with a customised small graphics card heatsink which is easily found in Sim Lim Square, this baby could be clocked higher and thus breach the difference in speed. One point to note here is that there are 2 holes on the graphics card located at the corners of the graphics processor, which i supposed is constructed to hold the heatsink in place; but somehow or rather, the heatsink was not present on the card. These are mere speculations over the hardware design, and i personally feel that the overall problem still lies with the drivers for the card. Maybe ELSA would release an updated version of the drivers that will boost the performance of the card further to that of the other ZX card that was tested, namely the ASUS V3000ZXTV; afterall both cards are running on exactly identical chipset. Overall, this is probably the cheapest 8mb Riva 128ZX cards you can find around, with all the gizmos and functions left out, if you have a general preference to Riva over Intel i740.


VIDEO CARD RATING

Overall Rating (Out of a maximum of 5 Star)

Installation ****
Performance **
Price ***
Software Bundle **
Material Quality ****
Overall Rating ***

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Copyright 1998, Singapore Hardware Zone. All rights reserved.
Last updated November 21, 1998.

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