– ElsaPrice – £120 for Erazor III Pro
Price – £160 for Erazor III Pro Video
Chip Off The Old Block?
Elsa are not a newcomer to the graphics card market, as they have
been producing cards for many years now. They have, however, been
rather insignificant in the more global marketplace. Until now that
With their recently released Savage4 and TNT2 range of boards, Elsa
have placed themselves further into the spotlight. The Erazor III
Pro is their latest card, and uses a new spin of the TNT2 chip
which not only yields faster clock speeds but also much cooler
The new chip is called the TNT2 Pro, and represents a step forward
in chip manufacturing, as instead of being made on a 0.25 micron
process it is instead manufactured on a 0.22 micron process. This
has the net effect of allowing companies like Elsa to produce
boards that run faster than the original TNT2 chip, but carry no
significant cost penalty.
It is certainly nice to see this kind of evolution in the world of
graphics chips, as once the die has become smaller it becomes far
easier to pack more features on to the chips and run them at
greater speeds, which is always good news for all concerned.
The card itself is a typical Elsa board –
it is somewhat smaller in size than one might expect, but other
than bearing the Elsa logo it isn’t anything too extraordinary to
look at. The 32Mb of memory is comprised of four 8Mb chips, which
means that the card isn’t littered with memory chips as has been
the case with other manufacturers’ boards though.
The TNT2 Pro chip itself sits under a rather unassuming looking
heat sink / fan combo. At first sight it appears that the fan is
actually inside the heat sink, but on closer inspection the heat
sink part of the assembly is more for supporting the fan than to
actually dissipate any heat.
There are some small fins on the heat sink that I’m sure must have
some effect, but bearing in mind that the chip doesn’t
actually generate that much heat there should be no problems with
the supplied heat sink and fan.
The card we tested was an Erazor III Pro Video, and this has one
other feature that makes it stand out a little from the crowd – an
extra output port on the back of the card. I say output port, but
in fact it covers both output and input. The card will accept
either a composite video or S-Video input, and is capable of
producing a display on all three outputs at once, which comprises
two composite video outs and one S-Video out.
This is certainly an impressive feature and is bound to be used by
some, although it will be a feature lost on many as the processes
involved in editing and recording video on a PC are not entirely
simple tasks. Thankfully the supplied software is reasonably good,
which is certainly a step in the right direction…
What’s In The Box?
In traditional style, Elsa have
decided to bundle a few little extras with the card. In order
to promote the gaming aspect of the card they have included
EA’s Need For Speed 4. Although it isn’t such a great title,
it certainly does help show off some of the power of the TNT2
Corel Draw 7 is also included, although seeing that this version is
somewhat dated (the current one being 9!) it may prove to be
somewhat of a token gesture. Admittedly it is still a good piece of
software, and should you be in need of such a package it may well
make a worthwhile contribution to the bundle.
Thankfully Elsa have also included a program that is aimed at the
video side of the card, which means that you will be able to take
full advantage of the video features out of the box – Elsa’s own
MainActor software, which doesn’t have the power of larger packages
of this type, such as Adobe’s Premier, but still manages to provide
a relatively efficient way of editing video on the PC.
Ultimately though the most
important thing about the card is the driver, and it is here
that Elsa have excelled. It is not unusual to see
manufacturers making only slight cosmetic tweaks to reference
drivers, but Elsa tend to be much more thorough than just
changing a few graphics here and there.
The drivers install several tabs to the advanced display settings,
which allow the configuring of not only the standard NVIDIA
settings (such as image quality, mip-map levels etc) but also much
finer details, including a very precise monitor set up function
which allows truly fantastic fine tuning.
I haven’t seen anything quite so detailed since Matrox’s original
PowerDesk drivers, and it is always nice to see greater flexibility
through better drivers. Thumbs up to Elsa!
The benchmark results show the Erazor III Pro competing quite
evenly with a TNT2 Ultra card. This isn’t too surprising when one
considers that there is only about a 5% difference in core clock
speed between these two chips – the TNT2 Pro runs at 143MHz, with a
TNT2 Ultra clocking in at 150MHz.
The results reflect this relatively small clock difference, but
there is also the possibility of some CPU limitation with the test
machine used. I would therefore be forced to conclude that given
more CPU horsepower the TNT2 Ultra would be capable of creating a
bigger performance gap over the Erazor III Pro. Despite that fact,
the Erazor III Pro would still be capable of producing more than
Looking at the card in general, it certainly represents good value
for money, and considering that one not only gets a superb 3D
accelerator card but also the ability to input and output images
the card becomes an even more attractive package.
The only possible bad point to make is that with the advent of the
GeForce256, the TNT2 is no longer the fastest chip on the block and
so may not be quite so attractive to the dedicated gamer.
Fortunately (depending on your perspective) GeForce cards are
rather expensive at the moment, and support for T&L is rather
limited, so there is still plenty of room for the venerable TNT2 on
the performance tree.
The Erazor III Pro is another great product from Elsa that has
certainly helped place them firmly on the 3D accelerator map.
Release Date – available now
Source : Eurogamer