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NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes Video Cards Roundup

March 2002:
ABIT Siluro GF3 TI200
Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 Ti200
Palit Daytona GeForce3 Ti 200
Chaintech A-G321 GeForce3 Ti 200
and Gainward PowerPack GeForce3 Ti /450 64 MBytes

March 20, 2002



Just at the beginning of the year we discussed whether it was good or not for video cards to have 128 MBytes memory. But that time I tested not very powerful cards for which such memory was useless.

But in that review we also had one quite powerful 3D accelerator based on the GeForce3 Ti 200 - Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes. Today we are going to test it again in comparison with equal solutions.

Apart from the cards with 128 MBytes memory we have also taken one card with 64 MBytes which is a solution from Gainward. First of all, we haven't tested yet a card from Gainward based on the GeForce3 Ti 200, and secondly it will be a starting point for comparison of 128 MBytes cards with their 64 MBytes brothers.

However, I don't expect any speed difference. We have proven it in that review, and our 3Digest shows that there are no games able to enable the memory beyond 64 MBytes. Production of such cards is a pure marketing step. First of all, because it allows manufacturers to release new revisions making them more attractive. Secondly, the price gap between 64 MBytes and 128 MBytes cards is quite narrow, that is why it can attract more buyers for GeForce3 Ti 200 products. As usual, I give you a list of articles related to the GeForce3 family.

Today we are going to take a look at 4 cards coming with 128 MBytes of RAM. They are from ABIT, Palit, Chaintech and Leadtek.

Cards

All cards have an AGP x2/x4 interface, 128 MBytes DDR SDRAM (the Gainward has 64) located in 8 chips on both sides of the PCB.

ABIT Siluro GF3 Ti200 128 MBytes
Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
Palit Daytona GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
Chaintech A-G321 GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
Gainward PowerPack GeForce3 Ti 200 64 MBytes

ABIT Siluro GF3 Ti200 128 MBytes
Samsung 5ns memory chips. The card operates at 175/200 (400) MHz.
Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
Samsung 4ns memory chips. The card operates at 175/200 (400) MHz.
Palit Daytona GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
Samsung 5ns memory chips. The card operates at 175/200 (400) MHz.
Chaintech A-G321 GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
Samsung 5ns memory chips. The card operates at 175/200 (400) MHz.
Gainward PowerPack GeForce3 Ti 200 64 MBytes
EtronTech 4.5ns memory. The card operates at 175/200 (400) MHz.

Comparison with the reference design, front view Reference card NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
ABIT Siluro GF3 Ti200 128 MBytes
Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
Palit Daytona GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
Chaintech A-G321 GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
Gainward PowerPack GeForce3 Ti 200 64 MBytes


Comparison with the reference design, back view Reference card NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
ABIT Siluro GF3 Ti200 128 MBytes
Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
Palit Daytona GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
Chaintech A-G321 GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
Gainward PowerPack GeForce3 Ti 200 64 MBytes

All cards apart from the Palit Daytona GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes are based on the reference design. I already mentioned it examining the card with 64 MBytes memory. The design hasn't changed. Note that only the Leadtek comes with the faster 4ns memory which means that it can work at 250 (500) MHz. The Gainward's card has the 4.5ns memory which means that it is able to run at 222 (444) MHz.

All the cards are equipped with TV-out and almost all except the Gainward Powerpack GeForce3 Ti 200 have DVI. The cards differ only in coolers. The most interesting coolers are of the Chaintech A-G321 GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes and Gainward PowerPack GeForce3 Ti 200 64 MBytes. The peculiarities of the Leadtek card were considered in detail in the review of 128 MBytes cards.

Gainward PowerPack GeForce3 Ti 200 64 MBytes
We used to see on the Gainward's cards cylindrical coolers. But now the designers decided to make a flower of it. The cooler is not efficient, though such cards do not require intensive cooling.
Chaintech A-G321 GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
This is the most luxurious cooler I've ever seen! Surprisingly, there are no trails of cupeling and a label with a seal :-). The cooler is an all-metal solution which is meant both for GPU and memory. Unfortunately, there is no heat-conducting grease between the heatsink and the memory. The heatsink is attached to the card the same way as on the Leadtek solution: two pins and a turned-up upper edge.

As far as TV-out is concerned I must note that only the ABIT and Gainward come with S-Video-to-RCA adapters. By the way, the Chaintech A-G321 GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes has the most interesting set of accessories:

Chaintech A-G321 GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
User manual, CD with drivers, CDs with Aquanox and MDK2 games, S-Video extender. All the CDs and the manual are put into a plastic cover.

All the cards ship in retail packages (apart from the Palit's solution which is available both in a retail box and in an OEM package, though the accessories are the same).

ABIT Siluro GF3 Ti200 128 MBytes
ABIT refused bags and returned to traditional boxes.
Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
For the Titanium series Leadtek has a new style of a package which looks very attractive taking into account that the boxes for different families differ in color.
Palit Daytona GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
The Palit's GeForce3/Ti 200/Ti 500 series has a single design of a package, and the precise configuration is written on the sticker.
Chaintech A-G321 GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes
The most splendid package! It's well matched with the card with the golden heatsink!
Gainward PowerPack GeForce3 Ti 200 64 MBytes
The Gainward's package is traditional. The only that can change are figures next to word "GeForce":-).

That's all I had to say about peculiarities of the cards.

Overclocking

ABIT Siluro GF3 Ti200 128 MBytes 175/400 -> 228/510 MHz
Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes 175/400 -> 225/500 MHz
Palit Daytona GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes 175/400 -> 225/510 MHz
Chaintech A-G321 GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes 175/400 -> 242/500 MHz
Gainward PowerPack GeForce3 Ti 200 64 MBytes 175/400 -> 230/500 MHz

Many overclockers know that the Samsung chips are difficult to speed up. That is why it was surprising to see that the 5ns worked stably at 250 (500) MHz. The core has a good potential too. Although, considering that the Ti 200 cards are equipped with the chips which don't not work stably at 240 MHz and, thus, do not suit Ti 500, there is nothing to be surprised at. Anyway, some cards in the overclocked mode came close to the Ti 500.

Note:

  • in course of overclocking you must provide additional cooling, in particular, for the card (first of all, for its memory):
  • overclocking depends on a definite sample, and you shouldn't generalize the results of one card to all video cards of this mark or series. The overclocking results are not the obligatory characteristics of a video card.

Test system and drivers

Testbed:

  • Pentium 4 based computer (Socket 478):
    • Intel Pentium 4 2200 (L2=512K);
    • ASUS P4T-E (i850) mainboard;
    • 512 MBytes RDRAM PC800;
    • Quantum FB AS HDD, 20 GBytes;
    • Windows XP.

The test system was coupled with ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors.

In the tests we used NVIDIA's drivers of v27.50. VSync was off, S3TC was off.

For the comparative analyses we used the following cards:

  • Chaintech A-G320 GeForce3 Ti 200 (175/200 (400) MHz, 64 MBytes);
  • Manli RADEON 8500 (RADEON 8500LE, 250/250 (500) MHz, 64 MBytes, driver 6.043).

Test results

The 2D quality is very high of all cards, and you can work comfortably at 1600x1200x75/85 Hz and 1280x1024x100 Hz (it just seems that the Gainward and Leadtek cards have a bit better images). But you must have a high-quality monitor and use connection via BNC. Besides, 2D quality much depends on a sample of the card and on its friendliness towards a monitor.

For estimation of 3D quality we used:

  • Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v.1.05 (Croteam/GodGames) - OpenGL, multitexturing, Grand Cathedral demo, test settings: quality, S3TC OFF, Trilinear
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein (MultiPlayer) (id Software/Activision) - OpenGL, mulitexturing, Checkpoint-demo, test settings - maximum, S3TC OFF, the configurations can be downloaded from here

We use few tests because there is our 3Digest where we compare a lot of cards in a great deal of tests. And this time we just compare several production cards.

Serious Sam: The Second Encounter

Grand Cathedral, quality mode

The tests were carried out in a 32-bit color mode.

As expected, there is no difference between the 64 MBytes and 128 MBytes Ti 200 cards. The extra memory can be useful only for the 4x anti-aliasing mode. Of course we can calculate what memory is needed for the toughest 3DMark2001 test in 1600x1200, but do you need those 10-15 fps gained? The playability will anyway be too low.

Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Multiplayer)

Checkpoint, High Quality Modes

The tests were carried out in 32-bit color mode at the highest detailing and quality level of textures.

The picture is the same. Besides, the RADEON 8500LE, like above, falls behind the Ti 200 in low resolutions, but in high ones it easily beats the latter.

Conclusion

This time we tested 4 production GeForce3 Ti 200 based cards carrying 128 MBytes memory and the Gainward card on the same chipset but with 64 MBytes RAM. The tests revealed that such memory size is not needed yet. Production of such models is just a marketing trick taking into account that the whole GeForce3 family is going to die soon (the GeForce4 Ti line will press them out quicker than games are going to need 128 MBytes of memory). The only advantage is that such cards are not much dearer than 64 MBytes solutions.

The Gainward video card is an ordinary 3D solution for an average gamer, this good product provides for a high-quality image and excellent overclocking capabilities in 3D.

Chaintech A-G321 GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes... this card is a gorgeous present! I like it very much.

The complete characteristics of video cards of this and other classes can be found in our 3Digest.

Highs:

  • Excellent performance in 3D graphics ;
  • High quality of the cards;
  • A good set of accessories of the Retail package of the Chaintech and Gainward cards;
  • Luxurious design of the Chaintech A-G321 GeForce3 Ti 200 128 MBytes;
  • Relatively low prices for the Palit and ABIT (below $160-170);
  • Overclocking potential of all the cards can turn them into usual GeForce3 cards.

Lows:

  • Lack of S-Video-to-RCA adapters for some cards.

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