Not so long ago Gigabyte turned to production of cards based only on ATI's processors. And when one of the companies leaves the market of NVIDIA based cards other companies are in hurry to take its place, as it, for example, happened with Diamond Multimedia whose place was occupied mostly by Leadtek.
And now there are three companies which have extended their market shares at the expense of Gigabyte: MSI, Leadtek and Gainward. The latter is now strengthening its position in Europe where VisionTek and eVGA have left for.
Today remains of Gigabyte cards are available on the High-End GeForce3 market at a very low price. While many companies offer GeForce3 Ti 200 at $180-200, normal GeForce3 cards (not Ti 200!) sell at $150-160. By the way, there are a lot of other companies which get rid of unsold GeForce3 video cards, and their prices are often lower than those of Ti 200.
Let's return to Gainward. This company was founded in 1984 and all this time it has been dealing in production of video cards of different levels, and recently its range of products has extended and now includes multimedia devices. For a long time Gainward worked for the OEM market. And only several years ago it entered the retail market with the CARDEXpert trade mark. Today we have also PowerPack which includes all the most powerful accelerators of this year. Its GeForce4 Ti cards are named PowerPack GeForce4 Ti.
Before we go further in examining the today's samples let's see what reviews of the GeForce4 Ti cards we already have.
Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards which concern functional properties of the NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti GPU
Note that Gainward has a separate line of products called Golden Sample. Here we have samples which can work flawlessly at frequencies higher than those recommended by NVIDIA. Their cost price is higher as they require careful selecting of GPUs and installation of memory modules with a lower access time. That is why Golden Sample products are more expensive, but their better speed characteristics and excellent quality make up for it.
Today in our lab we have two Gainward cards based on the GeForce4 Ti 4400 and Ti 4600. Both cards belong to the Golden Sample line (you can see it by "Ultra/700XP" and "Ultra/750XP" in their names).
All cards have an AGP x2/x4 interface, 128 MBytes DDR SDRAM located in 8 chips on both sides of the PCB.
Each heatsink covers a pair of the memory chips. Note that both cards have heatsinks.
The Gainward PowerPack GeForce4 Ultra/700XP (GeForce4 Ti 4400) is based on the GeForce4 Ti 4600 design (though the difference is only in a couple of capacitors). In all other respects, they follow the reference design.
The GeForce4 Ti 4600 card has two unsoldered DVI connectors and no d-Sub. But the card comes with two (the GeForce4 Ti 4400 with one) DVI-to-VGA adapters:
Both cards have VIVO (VideoIn-VideoOut) based on the Philips 7100 codec:
Besides, there is also a connector on the card for not an S-Video-to-RCA adapter but for a special adapter-splitter:
The yellow plugs are used for TV-out, and the black ones are meant for Video In.
Quality of TV-out was estimated a lot of times in the reviews from the list above, and Video-In wasn't touched upon much, though this function has the same capabilities as in GeForce3 cards. The cards comes with WinCoder and WinProducer programs from InterVideo which work with Philips codecs much better than the traditional Ulead VideoStudio. The WinProducer is a more powerful suite which implements video capture and edits video clips. The WinCoder can only capture a video stream and make a video clip in different formats:
Besides, it's possible to capture separate shots from movies and place them into the temporary gallery:
The shots obtained can be viewed, deleted or saved on any disc in any popular graphics format:
Now let's come back to the design of the cards, in particular, to the coolers. In case of the GeForce4 Ti, only Leadtek had a completely different cooling device. So, what do we have on the Gainward cards?
Well, this is a copy of the reference cooler, just of another color. Both cards have identical coolers. Note that the center of the chip is shifted away from the chip's center (because there is a dead zone under the fan and air flows can't cool down the hottest place of the heatsink). The fan drives air along the closed case of the heatsink.
The coolers are attached to the PCB with clips. Having taken off the heatsinks we saw the GPUs (GeForce4 Ti 4400 and GeForce4 ti 4600):
The processors have a codename because the chips were produced long ago: GeForce4 Ti 4400 at the beginning of January, 2002, and GeForce4 Ti 4600 at the end of 2001.
And now let's take a look at the insides of the packages.
You might be interested in what figures 700 and 750 in the names of the cards mean. Earlier they were frequencies in the Extremal mode. Now we can see that the frequencies are lower. Probably, they are the maximum frequencies the cards can run at. But in our case only the Ti 4600 proved it. As for the overclocking, we can see that the Ti 4600 card can work at the record frequencies of this class, and the Ti 4400 can easily turn into a Ti 4600 card and even outscore the latter.
Test system and drivers
The test system was coupled with ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors.
In the tests we used NVIDIA's drivers of v28.32. VSync was off, S3TC was off.
For the comparative analyses we used the following cards:
The 2D quality is superb, no problems at 1600x1200x85 Hz.
For estimation of 3D quality we used:
Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
Grand Cathedral, quality mode
The tests were carried out in a 32-bit color mode.
Well, the main competitors here are not GeForce4 Ti 4400/4600, but GeForce3 Ti 500, RADEON 8500 64 MBytes and RADEON 8500 128 MBytes. The latter wallops its enemies. The Gainward cards have a higher performance than the reference ones. The anisotropy enabled worsens the performance much.
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.
Here the overclocked 128 MBytes RADEON 8500 have caught up with the GeForce4 Ti 4400! Again we can see how awfully the ATI's card performs; it can be caused by a bad operation with the AGP of the 64 MBytes cards or by the memory controller which allows for a decent gain with additional memory provided (by the way, the Joytech Apollo Devil Monster II RADEON 8500 has 8 32-bit memory modules which might provide for a 256-bit bus if the card's layout and the chip supported it). The overclocked Joytech lets us estimate potential of the RADEON 8500XT which failed to enter the market.
High Quality Mode
This benchmark was released not so long ago, that is why first of all let's look at its screenshots:
The game is much dependent on a processor frequency. Even the most powerful cards show a quite low performance.
This tested is evidently limited by the CPU frequency as the performance drop of even the GeForce4 Ti 4600 with the highest anisotropy degree is much lower (note that the card is overclocked) than in other tests. The Ti 500 and RADEON 8500 are fighting as before, and the GeForce4 Ti 4400 is faster than the overclocked 128 MBytes RADEON 8500 (the Comanche4 uses actively a double unit of vertex shaders).
CodeCult created an engine which draws realistic 3D images, primarily landscapes. The scenes included in the demo version are quite complicated. A year ago we sighed looking at the X-Isle with 200,000 polygons and shader effects, and now we have a new demo version:
This product is created for the DirectX that is why it can work on all DirectX 8.1 compatible accelerators.
I didn't take resolutions higher than 1024x768, because playability of even the NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600 is not sufficient.
The positions of the cards are the same except that the GeForce4 Ti breaks away from the other cards thanks to the double unit of vertex shaders. Though pixel shaders are also used actively in forming of a water surface.
3DMark2001 SE, 3D MARKS
Nothing has changed.
3DMark2001 SE, Game1, Low details
There is nothing new, except that at 1600x1200 the RADEON 8500 128 MBytes card comes very close to the GeForce4 Ti 4400.
3DMark2001 SE, Game2, Low details
In this test the GeForce4 Ti is more efficient (we have already discussed operation of the HSR unit of such cards), that is why the breakaway from the junior cards is greater (though the 128 MBytes RADEON 8500 card is positioned on the market as a competitor to the GeForce4 Ti family, and we use it here in the overclocked mode).
The terrible performance drop caused by the anisotropy is a real Achilles' heel of this accelerator!
3DMark2001 SE, Game3, Low details
Here the Ti 500 goes on a par with the 128 MBytes RADEON 8500 card (note that the latter is overclocked!).
3DMark2001 SE, Game4
Bravo, Joytech! This overclocked card was able to catch up with the overclocked GeForce4 Ti 4600 in Game4! Although it performs so well only at one resolution, in the others it successfully fights again other NVIDIA super-accelerators. But as you know it's possible to optimize drivers and a platform for this test. I can' help praising the ATI programmers for it.
Today we saw that the Gainward cards were able to win in performance and in overclocking against their competitors. On the other hand, it makes no sense to couple such powerful processors with CPUs working at a frequency lower than 1,000 MHz. Further we will examine how a CPU speed affects a performance of the GeForce4 Ti.
The Gainward cards have a high quality reference design, VIVO; the Ti 4600 card is supplied with the IEEE1394 digital controller. Besides, both cards work stably at the increased frequencies. At the same time, they are not going to be more expensive than most of their competitors.
The complete characteristics of video cards of this and other classes can be found in our 3Digest.
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