HIS Excalibur 9550 VIVO

Aron Schatz
July 25, 2004
HIS Excalibur 9550 VIVO
The HIS Exalibur 9550 VIVO is a nice card if you're not a gamer. It comes with an attractive bundle and is well worth the asking price. See for yourself and read the review...
Tags Graphics

Page 1: Intro, Parts and the Card



Even though you may be able to buy that new 6800 or X800 video card, not everyone can afford it or even needs that kind of power. I can't count the times that people come in a ask me for a Radeon 9800 XT or a Geforce FX 5900 XT or similar high end card. When I ask them what they're using it for, their reply is usually work stuff, spreadsheets and perhaps a game or two. These types of people don't need the ultra high end video cards, why they throw money away and buy them is beyond me. Regardless, there are many cost-effective alternatives to the latest and greatest. <a href="http://www.hisdigital.com">HIS</a> steps up and delivers the Excalibur 9550 VIVO, based on the popular Radeon 9600 chipset.


Chipset: ATI Radeon 9550
Core Speed: 250MHz
Memory: 64-256MB (128MB Tested)
Memory Speed: 400MHz
Bus: AGP 8X/4X
Connections: VGA, TV-Out/In & DVI-I
Heatsink/Fan: iFan

The specs of this video card are pretty low. The main selling point of the card is its VIVO functionality. We'll get into the benchmarks later in the review, but I'm not going to stress them at all considering the market that the card is aiming for. We'll have to look beyond the standard benchmarks and see what the real value of the card is.



The box is nice enough. I don't pay attention to the marketing gimmicks and the hyped-up text on the back of video card boxes, and you shouldn't either. Always do some research before you buy. By reading this review, you are becoming a more informed buyer, unlike many customers I've seen, who simply hand you their wallets. The internet is out there for more than just porn and mp3s, folks. Always surf the web and know what PC components should be on your shopping list before taking the trip to your local computer store.



Here is what is included in the box. HIS gives a pretty nice bundle (which makes up for the fact that the card is pretty slow). You get a total of four CDs. PowerDVD 5, VideoStudio 7se, 3D Album, and the driver CD. Also included is the video card, a VIVO cable, an extra S-Video cable, the manual, and a DVI to VGA converter. This is a pretty good bundle for a cheap card.

<B>The Card</B>:


Here we have the top view of the card. You can clearly see the iFan on the GPU. To me, it looks like a normal heatsink/fan unit combo. Maybe I don't have the abstract skills to clearly notice a difference between the iFan and a Fan Smile. The core clock is set so low that a plain old heatsink would most likely do the trick anyway, but room for overclocking should be improved with this unit simply because of the iFan.

There are much smaller capacitors on this card as opposed to my Radeon 9500 Pro. But like the 9500 Pro, the PCB is red which happens to be my favorite color.


The is the back of the card. The RAM is split evenly on both sides, 64MB on each. The sticker on the back clearly states it is a 9550 VIVO with 128MB of RAM at 128-bits wide. The box has markings for a 64-bit wide card as well...

<center>VIVO Chip</center>

VIVO functionality is handled by the every popular Rage Theater chip. It handles the nitty gritty of digital-to-analog conversion and back again. The VIVO quality was good, on par with all other ATI type VIVO cards dating back to my original Radeon 64 VIVO card. (Those were the days.) Rest assured that ATI is usually synonymous with picture quality, and this card carries on that tradition.


While the picture doesn't show it, there is a -4 on the end of the Hynix chips. If you follow the easy to use formula to determine what MHz rating the chips are, we can say that the RAM is rated to run at 250MHz (1000/4), or 500MHz DDR. Given that the memory is currently clocked at 200MHz (400MHz DDR), it is safe to assume that there is room for overclockability. We'll handle that later.


The card has connectors for VGA, VIVO, and DVI. There is a cable to enable the VIVO functionality. The signal can go to, or come from a NTSC or S-Video source.


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