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Biostar Sigma-Gate VR8603TS21 GeForce 8600GTS Videocard Review

Biostar Sigma-Gate VR8603TS21 GeForce 8600GTS Videocard Review  - PCSTATS
Abstract: Biostar's Sigma-Gate and V-Ranger software allowed us to push that videocard to its max. Literally. The key to our overclocking Zen was adjustable GPU and memory voltage options.
 91% Rating:   
Filed under: Video Cards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Biostar Jul 17 2007   Colin Sun  
Home > Reviews > Video Cards > Biostar Sigma-Gate VR8603TS21

Biostar Simga-Gate and V-Ranger Overclocking Software

What separates the Biostar Sigma-Gate GeForce 8600GTS videocard from every other videocardis Biostar's unusually powerful overclocking software. Most of the time bundled in overclocking programs are pretty limited, but not this one. Now don't allow the kitschy graphical user interface to fool you, Biostar has introduced overclocking options in this tool that are generally not available. Please keep in mind that the Sigma-Gate/V-Ranger software works in conjunction with a specifically designed card by Biostar that allows for voltage adjustments. It cannot be used on other vendor's products to enable voltage options.

The Biostar Sigma-Gate overclocking utility is difficult to use at first, mainly because the layout is so stylized that its hard to know what's important and what's just trimming.

A description window opens every time you mouse over a button, or option, and that helps decode the sharp iconography. It's a shame the Sigma-Gate's GUI is so poorly presented because Biostar really have put together a serious overclocking tool here. You'll have to trust me for now, we'll prove it in a moment.

In the main window you'll find the overclocking options are limited to 'auto overclocking' or making simple 'core' or 'memory speed' adjustment, and running 3D tests to see if the settings are stable.

The 3D test can be run internally, or on the display. After changes have been made, you can save overclocking setting profiles for later use.

To open up the truly advanced videocard overclocking options that make this an incredibly powerful tool, click the purple target circle near the middle of the application. This will prompt a disclaimer that informs you of the potential hazards of using the tool, and you must agree to it before going forward.

V-Ranger Advanced Overclocking Utility

Biostar's V-Ranger overclocking software allows you to adjust the videocard core & memory clock speeds, the videocard GPU and memory voltages, and set temperature protection modes all from the comfort of your Windows desktop.

More specifically, the Biostar V-Ranger overclocking tool allows us to adjust the videocard GPU core clock speed from 675-1300 MHz, in 1 MHz increments.

Using a similar little slider tool, adjustments to the clock speed of the videocards' memory can be made in 1 MHz increments, from 2016-2419 MHz. Best of all, it permits us to change the Geforce 8600GTS GPU voltage from anywhere between 1.294V to 1.6961V (1.347V is the default value), and alter memory voltage from anywhere between 1.728V to 2.131V (1.811V is stock voltage).

If the significance of this is lost on you, only Biostar's Sigma-Gate videocards support GPU and memory clock speed and voltage adjustments while in Windows.

Every time you make an adjustment, V-Ranger reminds you to test it first by pressing the button with the up and down arrows. The internal test is brief, maybe a second at most. If the settings fail the test or lock up the computer, V-Ranger keeps note of what the last good setting was and loads this automatically upon startup so you can fix the problem.

The Biostar V-Ranger tool is easier to use than the Sigma-Gate overclocker, and if you're really lucky you might run into a situation where the clock adjustment sliders max out... That's when it's necessary to go back to Sigma-Gate, since its clock speed options are broader.

We'll go through the steps of overclocking the Biostar Sigma-Gate GeForce 8600GTS videocard ourselves a little later.

Compared to the mainstream overclocking applications that most enthusiasts use, the Biostar Sigma-Gate and V-Ranger are two very strong overclocking utilities.

The V-Ranger in particular offers a powerful range of videocard overclocking controls, and this is something the big three videocard manufacturers should take note of. Biostar started things off with its Sigma-Gate GeForce 7600GS and continues its excellent overclocking tradition with the new Sigma-Gate GeForce 8600GTS. If other manufacturers don't do the same, Biostar could charge through the middle and become the brand enthusiast users flock to. Kind of how DFI became the darling of the enthusiast motherboard industry. I know the last time I've had this much fun overclocking a videocard was with.... oh wait, the Biostar Sigma-Gate GeForce 7600GS! ;-)

In case you're wondering, Biostar's Sigma-Gate utility is compatible with other brands and models of nVIDIA videocards. V-Ranger will not allow you to adjust voltages through, because as the actual videocard is specially designed for voltage overclocking. The automatic overclocking feature even works quite well if you choose to use it. Up next, PCSTATS overclocking results!

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Contents of Article: Biostar Sigma-Gate VR8603TS21
 Pg 1.  Biostar Sigma-Gate VR8603TS21 GeForce 8600GTS Videocard Review
 Pg 2.  nVidia's G84 Core, DirectX 10 and Windows Vista
 Pg 3.  — Biostar Simga-Gate and V-Ranger Overclocking Software
 Pg 4.  Overclocking the Biostar Sigma-Gate, more fun than usual!
 Pg 5.  Videocard Benchmarks: 3DMark05, 3DMark06
 Pg 6.  Videocard Benchmarks: FarCry, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
 Pg 7.  Videocard Benchmarks: Doom 3, Quake 4
 Pg 8.  Videocard Benchmarks: FEAR
 Pg 9.  Advanced Videocard Benchmarks: FarCry, Doom 3, FEAR
 Pg 10.  PCSTATS Maximum Videocard Overclocking Chart & Conclusions

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