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Addendum to Rage 128 Review

Addendum to Rage 128 Review
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The Temperature Issue

Some people seem to have doubts about the temperature that I measured of the Rage 128 chip.

Long term readers of Tom's Hardware Guide should know that I am always very concerned about a particularly high accuracy of the words that I publish. I measured the temperature of the ATI chip with a professional thermal probe and an exactly calibrated device connected to it. The thermal probe was connected to the chip via a special thermally resistant tape that has particularly good adhesive strength. I used thermal compound in between the probe and the chip to ensure the closest possible contact. The probe was placed roughly into the middle of the chip.

When running the desktop only and no 3D, the Rage 128 runs at a temperature of pretty decent 63°C (145°F). This changes as soon as you are running a 3D application as e.g. Quake2. The temperature increased up to 91°C (196°F) within 3 minutes of running Quake2, actually regardless if a demo is running or if only the console is down. It takes only 30 seconds after closing Quake2 and the temperature comes back down to the decent 63°C (145°F).

Conclusion

The reason why other reviewers did not come across the high temperature is simply because most of them plug the card into a case and take it out once they have finished testing. At this stage the 30 seconds after they ran the last 3D application is long over and thus their hands could only feel the 63°C (145°F), which doesn't appear as too hot at all. Those guys should place their fingers on the chip when running a 3D game, and they would notice pretty quickly how damn hot it is.

I spoke to ATI and nobody was surprised. The answer I got was not 'that cannot be', instead of that I was told that the silicon temperature is specified up to 160°C (320°F), the case temperature is specified up to 115°C (239°F). ATI is fully aware of the temperature issue and that's why they are working on a new revision of the silicon. Even if the chip can take 115°C (239°F), the components around it can't and particularly a chip placed onto a motherboard would be able to cause serious damage.

Thus I would like to note that the review boards that went out are all the same, mine's not any different to the ones that went all over the place in the US. If others state that the chip is cool, then it's up to you judging about their reliability, instead of wondering if Tom's Hardware Guide would publish false results for the first time in history. This will never happen, but my thoroughness is one reason why my reviews take longer than the reviews of others.

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