Ultimate Gaming Machine: Thermaltake Armor+

"Ultimate Gaming Machine; Thermaltake Armor+ Exclusive Website, Market Availability Schedule Released."

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Ultimate Gaming Machine; Thermaltake Armor+ Exclusive Website, Market Availability Schedule Released.

With the success of the Thermaltake Armor full tower, Thermaltake is introducing the most powerful version in the Armor family, the new Armor+ Chassis. While all the essence of Armor has been maintained, Armor+ comes with many market leading features that are never seen in any Chassis on the market today. With the release of previous online preview that left gamers tingle with excitements; Thermaltake is launching the exclusive website of Armor+ with global market availability schedules today!

Born to feed the beasts, the Armor+ has been granted. With bravely implanted features like the 10 PCI slots, 14 drive bay expandability and adjustable PSU supporting bridge; fitting everything from micro-ATX to extended-ATX motherboard and even quad-graphic cards, the extremely spacious Armor+ is tailored for the top-end enthusiasts.

With extra careful concerns on the user experiences, not only the 5.25”, 3.5” devices and PCI slots are designed tool-free, but the further careful touch on the motherboard tray and cable management functions also enhanced the installation convenience. Moreover, Armor+ offers superb ventilation with the entire body metal grilled and well organized fan cooling system managing CPU, VGA and HDD thermal independently for optimized system airflow.

The liquid-cooling version of Armor+ will also be available in the near future. The embedded 3 bay liquid cooling system with 5 steps instant setup and external coolant maintenance features will definitely show you the innovation and technology that Thermaltake is famed for.

Not just the fascinating internal features that satisfy all heavy demands, the solid constructions and streamline appearance of Armor+ inherited the fine tradition with good strains of seeds from Armor. Experience the beauty and innovation breakthrough from the new Thermaltake Armor+ exclusive website with most updated info on the global market availability!

View the Thermaltake Armor+ website here
 
Thermaltake Armor+

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26-11-2007, 19:09:59

Johnny Bravo
Introduction

There are an ever growing number of companies in the graphics market these days, EVGA, XFX, Gainward, BFG to name a few. A name that may not be familiar is Vvikoo (pronounced wico). Vvikoo stated up in 2007 and is a Paris based company, their mission statement is to “create a new gaming environment for customers all over the world”

Here is a little blurb from their website:

The meaning of Vvikoo:
The sound of Vvikoo in French is similar to video cool in English. That is the beginning of Vvikoo. Therefore, when the first time people see or hear Vvikoo, they know Vvikoo was born for VGA card.

Powerful products :
Vvikoo provides various of products from high-end products to mainstream products of NVIDIA and ATI chipsets. We use the highest quality coolers and heatsinks to ensure the heat dissipation. Also, we have the innovative designs to tweak our products to the highest performance. Moreover, our advanced producing processes help our products keep the best quality when we combine all together.

Market-oriented strategy :
We believe only right products emerge at right time can satisfy the need of market. Our marketing and sales teams do research in each region completely and analyze people’s actual need and create the corresponding products for each market. Our ultimate goal is to satisfy all of your need no matter what products you buy from Vvikoo.

Customer satisfaction :
Customer satisfaction is a key for us. For your piece of mind, not only have we built our reputation on quality built products, we take pride in our ability to offer the best in customer service. We listen carefully to each request and feedback from our customers, and do our best to improve our products and services if possible. Our goal is to serve our customers from the beginning to the end. They can always use our products with ease and satisfaction because they know Vvikoo will solve any possible problems for their customers.

Vvikoo will maintain its highest quality products and services. Also, Vvikoo listens to what market really needs and will never stop!




Vvikoo intends to sell to a European market starting with the UK, German and French markets, but as an AIB it’s being supplied its cards from Palit who also supply a great number of card brands including Gainward who are known for good overclocking ;) Vvikoo claim that they have implemented their own screening and even editing the BIOS to have the boards overclocked fresh out of the box. Vvikoo hope to catch a slice of the performance cake with their new cards by providing pre overclocked models and up rated cooling solutions already attached so that end users can get the most of their products.

In this review we will be look at two such cards, an 8600 GT Turbo, which is factory overclocked, and the 8600 GTS. As these cards are still Nvidia reference design the stock cards will perform en par with everyone else’s card. To this end I will just be running a few benchmarks on some of the popular game engines and the obligatory 3DMark tests. I’ll also go on to talk about what if anything sets these cards apart from the crowd and the overclocking performance with relation to the uprated coolers.


Packaging and cards


The Vvikoo box is very understated, some may view it as very modern design others just plain bland. Personally I find it a refreshing break from techo-coloured beasts with weapons, however because of the greyness it certainly doesn’t stand out on a shelf. We can see a sticker on the box advertising a Zalman cooler that Vvikoo install on these cards.

[URL="http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0780.jpg"][IMG]http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0780%20(Medium).jpg[/IMG][/URL]

Inside the cards packed in a protective bubble wrap bag with some foam on the outside. Included with the card is a 4 pin to 6 pin molex adapter, composite TV cable, DVI adapter, driver disk and manual. The accessories are standard to pretty much any card and are reflected in the price which we will discuss later.

[URL="http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0080.jpg"][IMG]http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0800%20(Medium).jpg[/IMG][/URL]

The cards themselves are reference Nvidia designs on green PCB, with a double PCI shield attached due to the depth of the Zalman coolers. The Memory coolers, strangely, are not Zalman but stock aluminium blocks attached with the usual thick adhesive tape you’d see on RAM heat spreaders etc. In action the heat spreaders seem to get the job done, getting mildly hot to the touch after prolonged use.

[URL="http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0791.jpg"][IMG]http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0791%20(Medium).jpg[/IMG][/URL]
[URL="http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0787.jpg"][IMG]http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0787%20(Medium).jpg[/IMG][/URL]
[URL="http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0798.jpg"][IMG]http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0798%20(Medium).jpg[/IMG][/URL]

Close up of the Zalman embossed fins of the cooler – yep they’re the real deal!

[URL="http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0795.jpg"][IMG]http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0795%20(Medium).jpg[/IMG][/URL]

The 8600 GTS gets an up rated copper heatpipe cooler (VF900-Cu) while the 8600 GT Turbo is a simpler aluminium “flower” design (similar to the VF700-Al)

On the back of the cards we see that the voltage control circuits are the same as the reference cards so are pretty straight forward to vmod ;)

[URL="http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0792.jpg"][IMG]http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0792%20(Medium).jpg[/IMG][/URL]
[URL="http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0788.jpg"][IMG]http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0788%20(Medium).jpg[/IMG][/URL]

Finally some of you may have noticed what looks like an extra fan header beside the SLI connector. This is in fact a HDMI audio connector. Vvikoo have chosen not to include the cable as standard, though it can be purchase for $5 directly. Personally I do see this as a failing, and something that should have been included in the package, it’s only a few pounds at the end of the day, and even that seems steep for such a connecting wire.

[URL="http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0797.jpg"][IMG]http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0797%20(Medium).jpg[/IMG][/URL]


System Setup


  • E6850 @ 3.5Ghz for 8600 GTS/3Ghz for 8600 GT Turbo
  • Asus P5B Deluxe @ 500FSB for 8600 GTS/333FSB for 8600 GT Turbo
  • 2GB Crucial Ballistix PC-8500 @ 4-4-4-12 run at 1:1 ratio
  • Silverstone 850W PSU
  • LG 17” TFT
  • XP SP2
  • Nvidia Driver version 163.71

For those wondering why the change in test system, the 8600 GTS became cpu limited at stock speeds so I had to increase the cpu speed in order to get more meaningful results.

Benchmarks

  • Far Cry
  • Half Life 2
  • Doom3
  • 3DMark 01
  • 3DMark06


Overclocking

As we all love something for nothing, overclocking has become somewhat of a mainstay of improving graphics cards performance. In recent years tools for overclocking have grown ever more comprehensive and advanced. Atitool features its own auto overclocking feature which can determine the maximum memory and gpu core speeds through error detection on a rendered furry cube.

The inclusion of Zalman coolers to the cards will also assist in the removal on excess heat generated by increased clockspeeds. For these tests the voltages have been kept at stock, but if you so choose to vmod the cards these aftermarket coolers will become a necessity rather than accessory. An interesting note to point out at this stage is the fans are not speed monitored, and that they do not run at 12 volts but 8 volts. After talking to one of the engineers, I was informed that the decision was to prolong the fan life and reduce noise. Indeed the fans were subjectively quiet when run, almost silent and a far cry from the noise of the reference design coolers that Nvidia use.

The memory used on both cards is the same Qimonda HYB18H512321BF-10 rated at 1000MHz so the 8600GT Turbo should have 100MHz of overclocking headroom by default. The memory is running at the recommended maximum voltage of 2.1 volts, a slight overvoltage that no doubt helps with maximising the memory overclock.

[URL="http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0770.jpg"][IMG]http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0770%20(Medium).jpg[/IMG][/URL]
[URL="http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0774.jpg"][IMG]http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo%20Cards/DSCF0774%20(Medium).jpg[/IMG][/URL]

Using this feature I was able to overclock the 8600 GT Turbo up to 775MHz on the core and 1031MHz on the memory, that’s an increase of 235Mhz or 44% up on the gpu core speed from a reference card! At these speeds the cooler ran loaded at 74oC as seen in the screenshot below.

[IMG]http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo Cards/8600 GT Overclocked temp.JPG[/IMG]

The 8600GTS was able to climb from 675MHz to 773MHz on the gpu core and 1008MHz to 1120MHz on the memory. The copper heatpipe cooler on this card does a better job of keeping the gpu core cool running at a loaded temperature of 50oC

[IMG]http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo Cards/8600 GTS Overclocked temp.JPG[/IMG]

As always you mileage may vary. These cards do seem however to clock just that little further than other reviews I’ve read, so there is some sign of Vvikoos claim of screening the cards, which is good news to the budding overclockers out there.

8600 GT Turbo

The Vvikoo 8600 GT Turbo comes pre overclocked at 1800MHz memory and 625Mhz on the gpu, up from 1080Mhz and 540Mhz on a stock card. For a comparison of stock 8600GT cards to the Vvikoo I’d recommend you read W1zzards review of the card. I have run my benchmarks under the same conditions for continuity.

I’ll be comparing the “stock” speed of the cards with my own overclocking efforts using the latest version of atitool. Benchmarks were performed using OCHardware’s great benchmark apps for automated benchmarking.

Due to the limitation of my screen I’ve only tested 1024x768 and 1280x1024, with No Anti-aliasing, No anisotropic filtering and 2x Anti-aliasing, 8x anisotropic filtering respectively, with the exception of the 3DMark tests that were performed automatically by the program.

[IMG]http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo Cards/8600 GT Turbo results.PNG[/IMG]

8600 GTS

The Vvikoo 8600 GTS card is a more standard affair, running at the Nvidia reference speeds of 675MHz for the gpu core and 1008Mhz for the memory. For a review of the 8600GTS card and it’s performance The Guru of 3D have done a great comparison review of the 8600 GT and GTS models Interestingly in their review the Galaxy 8600 GTS card has the same cooler as the Vvikoo card but does not appear to clock as well…


The same testing methodology that was used for the 8600 GT Turbo has been used for the 8600 GTS


[IMG]http://www.itsjohnnybravo.com/Overclocking/Vvikoo Cards/8600 GTS results.PNG[/IMG]

Conclusions and Value for Money

We can see comparing the improvements and FPS results from both cards once overclocked we can see that the 8600 GT Turbo surpasses a stock 8600 GTS and can even come close to running at 8600 GTS overclocked speeds, quite a feat! Couple this with the fact the RRP for the 8600 GT Turbo is £79 compared to the 8600 GTS at £104 (which are bargain cards in each of their classes anyway!) and it’s clear that the 8600 GT Turbo is an absolute bargain. Granted the package deal is sparse but how much of the box contents of your last graphics purchase did you actually use? I’d rather have the savings in the purchase price. All in all the Vvikoo 8600 GT Turbo makes a great purchase for any mid range gamer…

…except for one thing. The 8800 GT.

This card has in many ways shot Nvidia in the foot by basically out performing a number of their cards over a broad price bracket, destroying their sales on these products. Apart from the current card drought and report of early cards being faulty or DOA it seems to be the card of choice for many, and the performance figures justify it. But if you want a real budget pocket rocket of a graphics card right now the Vvikoo 8600 GT Turbo is hard to ignore. Plus the prices of these cards will undoubtedly be forced down in the not too distant future to shift idle stock, making it an even bigger bargain.

As a fledgling company Vvikoo have a lot to prove in these early stages, and their first set of graphics cards do not disappoint. The important step now is good distribution and with Palit behind them this should not be a problem. Plus Vvikoo just announced their 8800GT card recently so the race isn’t over just yet….
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