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Tyan's Tachyon G9700 Pro

Manufacturer Tyan
Model Tachyon G9700 Pro
Price (street) US$???
Availability Soon
And now for something completely different
When Tyan first announced that it was going to start making graphics cards, I have to admit I got a little giddy. Tyan has a solid reputation for building quality motherboards, and I really wanted to see what they'd do with graphics cards. Tyan first got its feet wet with the Radeon 9000 Pro-based Tachyon G9000 Pro, which we reviewed here. Although I was impressed with the Tachyon G9000 Pro overall, the card was essentially a reference design with new PCB and heat sink colors.

After a tentative first step with the Tachyon G9000 Pro, Tyan is ready to plunge headlong into high-end graphics with the Tachyon G9700 Pro. Not satisfied with ATI's Radeon 9700 Pro reference design, Tyan has applied a few nips and tucks and come up with a new board layout and a radically different heat sink design that makes the Tachyon G9700 Pro really stand out from the competition. Check it out:

Who says Tyan is conservative?

Like the Tachyon G9000 Pro, Tyan's Tachyon G9700 Pro comes all dressed up in blue, but there's more to this card than its color. To make the card more stable when overclocked—and also more compatible with a wider range of motherboards—Tyan has tweaked the Radeon 9700 Pro's board layout. To date, Tyan is the only manufacturer I've seen offering something other than ATI's reference design on its Radeon 9700 Pro-based graphics cards.

It's a Radeon 9700 Pro sandwich

As if a tweaked board layout weren't enough, Tyan also employs a double-sided heat sink to cool both the GPU and the card's memory chips. The card we're testing today is an engineering sample, and it doesn't have a heat sink for the voltage regulator chips. Retail versions of the card will have one.

More fins than you can shake a stick at

The Tachyon G9700 Pro's heat sink is massive—probably the biggest heat sink out there short of Abit's OTES. Fortunately, the fan used on the heat sink isn't noticeably louder than what you'll find on cards using ATI's reference heat sink fan. The heat sink itself is only a little taller than those found on other Radeon 9700 Pros. It's a tight squeeze if all the other PCI slots are filled. Having a PCI card right next to an AGP slot is going to kill air flow, anyway.

Tyan's TIM pad

Tyan's heat sink uses removable push pins, so it's easy to pop the whole thing off and get a look at the GPU. Tyan slides a TIM pad between the heat sink and GPU die, which I'd normally complain about. As I mentioned, though, the Radeon 9700 Pro's GPU shim creates some problems with heat sink paste. If you're up to it, you can lap the GPU shim to make it level with the GPU die. Doing so will eliminate any gap problems you may otherwise have with thin heat sink paste applications.

Standard Samsung chips

Thick padding for the memory

The Tachyon G9700 Pro uses the same 2.8ns Samsung memory chips that you'll find on the other Radeon 9700 Pros we're looking at today, but it's the only card to offer a heat sink on the RAM chips. Tyan's massive heat sink uses pads to ensure that each memory chip has complete contact with the heat sink, but the pads are quite thick. The thickness makes me question just how effective they'll be at leeching heat away from the memory chips.

A standard port cluster

I was really hoping Tyan would offer dual DVI ports on the Tachyon G9700 Pro, especially since they've obviously spent a lot of time re-engineering the board, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. The standard VGA, DVI, and S-Video outputs all make an appearance on the Tachyon G9700 Pro, but the elusive second DVI port does not.

Sparse, but smart

Tyan's Tachyon G9700 Pro bundle is sparse, but it includes everything you really need. The standard video cables are there, as is a DVI-to-VGA adapter, a manual, and a driver CD (the one pictured here is what came with our engineering sample). There are no extra software titles or games in the bundle, but Tyan does offer its own hardware monitoring utility to aid in your overclocking endeavors. The utility provides fan speed, temperature, and voltage monitoring abilities and an overclocking slider. Tyan clearly has overclocking enthusiasts in mind with the Tachyon G9700 Pro, and the ability to monitor GPU temperatures should be especially useful if you really intend to push the card's limits. Unfortunately, the monitoring utility doesn't work with my engineering sample, which means it also won't work with Radeon 9700 Pro cards from other manufacturers.

A standard three-year warranty covers the Tachyon G9700 Pro, which is to be expected. Although the card is obviously designed for overclocking, Tyan doesn't guarantee you'll be able to hit a core clock speed above the Radeon 9700 Pro's stock 325MHz. We've seen a few manufacturers shipping GeForce4 Ti 4200 graphics cards overclocked out of the box, but none of ATI's partners have offered up overclocked cards.