After changing the video adapter drivers to "VGA compatible device", I cracked open the case to once again remove and install a video card. I stopped for a moment to think about how times I have done this. Between swapping review cards and ripping off heatsinks in an attempt to get more MHz, I had worn out the AGP slot in my old test system.
The Alienware system, though, is still ready for a few hundred more cards and with its removable motherboard tray, installation process is greatly simplified.
The OCZ card has a sturdy PCB, easily withstanding the pressure required to "snap" it into the shiny new KT7 AGP slot. This part of the install is always a little nerve wracking. Am I pushing too hard, is it lined up right...
After tightening the AGP slot's mounting screw, I slipped the motherboard tray back in place and went to hook up power to the Blue Orb. Unlike cards with standard heatsink/fan units, the blue orb can not be powered off of the card. This is good for two reasons. One, the AGP slot does not need to provide power to the fan which could aid in stability on older motherboards. Two, the Blue Orb's fan does have a monitor lead on it.
The KT7, and many other mainboards, has a fan header adjacent to the AGP slot. I decided to use the motherboard connector, instead of the included 3-pin to 4-pin adapter.
Upon start up of the machine, I was able to monitor the Blue Orb's fan speed through Motherboard Monitor. The fan fluctuated around ThermalTake specification of 4800rpm, usually a little on the low side. This could be in part due to the additional air pressure caused by the Alienware Cool Maxx system, a blow hole on the side of the case pushing air into the area of the AGP slot.
You need to have the PCI slot below the AGP slot open.
This picture of the card in place shows the Blue Orb obscuring the top PCI slot. If possible leave two slots open as placing a card next to it will impede airflow to the Orb and your overclocking results could suffer.
|Speaking of Overclocking...
Hey, the card is from the Overclockerz Store. Did you actually think for a second I would leave it at the default clock speeds?
The default clocks just aren't good enough.
Now that's a little more like it.
I was able to get the card to run at 240MHz core and 449MHz memory, but after an hour of Team Arena, the card locked. I backed it down to 235MHz and 445MHz for all benchmarks to follow.
According to Ryan of OCZ, most, if not all, cards are hitting the 445MHz memory mark and several have hit 449MHz. If you hit a wall and feel like tweaking more, try increasing the motherboards I/O voltage.
After all the stability testing, I came to realize the card is very fast and definitely creeps into the Ultra's territory. Let's see what all of this adds up to in terms of framerates.
Next Page: Benchmarks and Gaming