iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






NVIDIA GeForce2 Ultra
extreme overclocking

January 12, 2001

Today we will show you GeForce2 Ultra based video cards under unusual conditions. One day we took our test system block outside in order to carry out speed testing of the NVIDIA GeForce2 Ultra based video card when the ambient temp was around -2 C. But let's start with our testbed.

  • processor: Intel Pentium III 1000 MHz;
  • mainboard: Chaintech 6OJV (i815);
  • RAM: 256 MBytes PC133;
  • HDD: IBM DPTA 20 GBytes;
  • OS: Windows 98 SE;
  • monitor: NOKIA 447Xav (17").

The contestants of our Marathon race can be seen on the photo above, nevertheless, here they are (on the photo top-down):

  • Leadtek WinFast GeForce2 Ultra;
  • ASUS AGP-V7700 Ultra;
  • Creative 3D Blaster Annihilator2 Ultra;

But this list is incomplete. Together with the listed ones we tested the Leadtek WinFast GeForce2 Pro which is equipped brighter than a knight in the Middle Ages:

A set of instruments for overclocking is demonstrated on the left photo. There you can see that we utilized a Golden Orb cooler for SlotA-processors, clamps for the Blue Orb cooler (you can make then yourselves), thermo paste or glue. Otherwise, you can use insulation for mounting of a sawed-off part from the Golden Orb on the top raw of the memory chips. The photos clearly show how the modification of the cooler was made. The only I want to notice is that it's necessary to process the lower part of the cooler which is under the fan in order to take off a prominent part, since the center of the cooler will be much higher than the center of the chip.

Considering the fact that the card turned to be very heavy, you should carefully handle such a way equipped video card. No doubt that we were to sacrifice two PCI slots for such overclocking.

1. Overclocking in usual room conditions

This test was intended for all aforementioned video cards. The room temperature was around +22 C, The boards were blown on with a fan from the power supply unit mounted in immediate proximity to the video cards. The following results on overclocking were attained:

  • Leadtek WinFast GeForce2 Ultra - 330/260 (520) MHz;
  • ASUS AGP-V7700 Ultra - 315/250 (500) MHz;
  • Creative 3D Blaster Annihilator2 Ultra - 300/250 (500) MHz;
  • Leadtek WinFast GeForce2 Pro with Golden Orb cooler - 260/250 (500) MHz;

2. Overclocking in extreme conditions

This time we located the testbed on the balcony at the ambient temp equal to -2 C:

When in room conditions it was the Leadtek WinFast GeForce2 Ultra that became a leader in overclocking. That's why we chose exactly this board to be tested in severe conditions. Besides, we enabled a fan in order to intensify the cooling effect. Not too low air temperature (as for example in the freezer) allowed us testing the video card for quite a long time without a danger for the HDD and other parts of the case with moving elements.

The results really stunned us. We managed to lift video card frequency up to 370/290 (580) MHz! At the same time we noticed no artifacts, the board operated stable.

Test results

With the id Software Quake3 v.1.17 (OpenGL, multitexturing) we considered the speed.

The test result in room and street conditions were brought together, and here you can see what we have received:

Converting into percentage correlation of the performance increase while overclocking, we have got the following:

Despite not very huge overclocking of the Leadtek GeForce2 Pro (comparing to the super-card Leadtek WinFast GeForce2 Ultra), installation of such a big cooler yields fruit. If you remember the maximum possible speed of the GeForce2 Pro chipset is 230 MHz, and for the memory it makes 240 (480) MHz. With such irregular cooling we easily get a video card outperforming the NVIDIA GeForce2 Ultra and having much lower price.

As to the Leadtek WinFast GeForce2 Ultra when at extreme overclocking - it is a plain wonder. Look at the graphs of the performance gain, especially in 32-bit color. By the way, we can approximately estimate the speed of the future cards on the NV20, since according to rumors the speed increase of the NV20 relatively to the GeForce2 Ultra will be around 50%. We can imagine the FPS for the NV20 in typical for today games of the Quake3 class.

Now we should assess how overclocking of the GeForce2 Ultra chipset and then memory by turns influence the performance gain. I carried out two tests. The first one: at the rated memory frequency in 230 (460) MHz the GPU speed was increased up to 330 MHz, and the second - at the GPU rated frequency in 250 MHz the memory speed was lifted up to 260 (520) MHz (these tests were made inside the room):

Lifting of the memory frequency makes greater contribution than the chip overclocking. Note 32-bit color when overclocking the memory - after 1280X1024 the performance increase went down, as a result of lack for such frequency as 260 (520) MHz.


Well, you see that the Leadtek WinFast GeForce2 Ultra video cards have the best overclockability in their class, showing sometimes wonders (even not taking into account extreme conditions, 330/260 (520) MHz in room conditions is more than just good). Interestingly that increase of memory frequencies up to 290 (580) Mhz yield fantastic scores in performance increase. I don't think that lifting of the GPU speed up to 370 MHz has very significant effect, taking into account strong dependence of such chipsets on the memory bandwidth. By the way, our tests prove it indirectly.

If you remember a review on the Leadtek WinFast GeForce2 Ultra, you should recollect such test as Crytek X-Isle, which loaded the card so strong that we had to decrease overclocking of the tested sample to 290/250 (500) MHz. I should notice that today's sample managed to reach 320/258 (516) MHz in this test.

Overclocking of the Leadtek WinFast GeForce2 Pro showed us once again that such cards make the purchase optimal among High-End gaming video cards.

At last I should note that this review was not aimed at advertising of any possible overclocking ways, including extreme one. In this article I just wanted to reveal the potential of the GeForce2 Ultra-card for the sport of it. And as far as overclocking is concerned I state that neither me nor iXBT account for any consequences of hasty steps of users. These are irregular modes, and once setting about it a user should realize all possible consequences.

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