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NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440 Video Cards Roundup

Part 3. March 2002:
eVGA e-GeForce4 MX 440
Chaintech A-G440 GeForce4 MX 440
Chaintech A-G441 GeForce4 MX 440 SE
SUMA Platinum GeForce4 MX 440

March 28, 2002



We keep on examining production video cards on the GeForce4 MX 440. I recommend you read our base review (it comes first in the following list) and take a look at results of eight production cards on this GPU.

Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards which concern functional properties of the NVIDIA GeForce3 MX GPU

As I said before the GeForce4 MX 440 chipset turned out to be quite beneficial for NVIDIA's partners, and all of them have already released their solutions. At the same time, there are only 2-3 companies that used also MX 420, and the MX 460 model remains only just a test sample. That was expected as the price niche for the MX 440 was ready long ago (the same prices as for the GeForce2 Ti which is going to be replaced by the MX 440). The new MX 420 based cards are overpriced taking into account their capabilities. And MX 460 cards are limited by the cost of the GeForce3 Ti 200 and sometimes by the GeForce3.

On the contrary, MX 440 cards sell extremely well. Prices of some of them have fallen to $100 (and I think by the beginning of April the prices will go down more by $10-15). That is why I'm going to take up those models which are already available on the shelves. Of course, I mean well-known manufacturers.

eVGA, an American company, was founded in 1999. From the very beginning the company was aimed only at the American market, but the competition (coming, first of all, from Taiwanese and Chinese companies) make eVGA look for more marketing outlets. It also tries to make a riposte by delivering their products to Asia. Like all American companies, this one get components from Taiwan and China because of the cheapest production. That is why I can say that the cards come back to their motherland :-).

eVGA is a private company (like Matrox Electronics System). Its name indicates that it produces only video cards for PC systems. At present they use only NVIDIA's graphics processors; the range varies from TNT2M64 to GeForce4 Ti. Moreover, eVGA is an official partner NVIDIA.

Like some other companies, eVGA produces not only ordinary cards but also with some interesting peculiarities. It can be a higher clock speed or faster memory or a unique cooler. Well, let's go step by step.

Cards

All cards have an AGP x2/x4 interface, 64 MBytes DDR SDRAM located in 4 chips on both sides of the PCB.

eVGA e-GeForce4 MX 440
Chaintech A-G440 GeForce4 MX 440
Chaintech A-G441 GeForce4 MX 440 SE
SUMA Platinum GeForce4 MX 440


eVGA e-GeForce4 MX 440
Samsung 5ns memory chips. The card operates at 270/200 (400) MHz.
Chaintech A-G440 GeForce4 MX 440
Samsung 5ns memory chips. The card operates at 270/200 (400) MHz.
Chaintech A-G441 GeForce4 MX 440 SE
Samsung 4ns memory chips. The card operates at 270/200 (400) MHz.
SUMA Platinum GeForce4 MX 440
Hynix 4ns memory chips. The card operates at 270/200 (400) MHz.


Comparison with the reference design, front view Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440
eVGA e-GeForce4 MX 440
Chaintech A-G440 GeForce4 MX 440
Chaintech A-G441 GeForce4 MX 440 SE
SUMA Platinum GeForce4 MX 440


Comparison with the reference design, back view Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440
eVGA e-GeForce4 MX 440
Chaintech A-G440 GeForce4 MX 440
Chaintech A-G441 GeForce4 MX 440 SE
SUMA Platinum GeForce4 MX 440



Chaintech has released two revisions of the MX 440 based card: a usual one and Special Edition. The latter has a fancy box, is decorated with golden and has a faster memory. All cards except the SUMA Platinum GeForce4 MX 440 have 5ns memory which is the rated access time for these cards. The SUMA's solution has 4ns memory from Hynix which usually have excellent overclocking potential (as you might know, Samsung modules on MX 440 cards work often unstably even at the rated frequencies.)

All three cards are based on the reference design. They differ only in a textolite color and in coolers.

eVGA e-GeForce4 MX 440
This is the most original device. The cooler was developed by the eVGA's engineers and is named as Asymmetric Cooling System (ACS). The GPU is not under the fan but far from it. Why can such solution be effective? The matter is that under the fan an air flow speed is minimal. That is why it is not the best way to place a heat source here. We have already seen such coolers on GeForce4 Ti cards. The eVGA's engineers went further and put a heat source right under the place where the air flow has the highest speed and quickly carries heat out through the heatsink's fins. Hence an unusual form of blades of the fan.
Chaintech A-G440 GeForce4 MX 440
This cooler is ordinary, though the form and color are very stylish. A similar cooler is installed on the MSI's card. I must note that Chaintech launched another version of this card with SE suffix which has a really amazing cooler :-)
Chaintech A-G441 GeForce4 MX 440 SE
Apart from a richly decorated box the SE revision has an original cooler. In fact, it has only a larger cooling surface, i.e. better efficiency. From the designer's point of view we have real sun which, contrary to Nature, is meant to cool :-).
SUMA Platinum GeForce4 MX 440
SUMA keeps its traditions and is true to Platinum name. That is why its coolers are of platinum color and run stably and effectively.


The second VGA connector is lacking to some reason, though there is space for it and there is everything in the GPU GeForce4 MX to realize a dual-head support. Now I don't think that it is a marketing step and that they are going to release the second revision with two heads. Someone would already have made such card. I think there are problems in the GeForce4 MX440. But however that may be I think it is not fair to write on the package that the nView is supported when the output for the second monitor is lacking. Well, I understand that the TV-out uses all capabilities of the nView for displaying images on a monitor and a TV screen, but originally they meant dual-monitor support. I hope the MX 460 will be deprived of such problems.

All three cards are equipped with a TV-out (which is realized via the GPU), but only the SUMA's card has an S-Video-to-RCA adapter. By the way, let's take a look at the sets of accessories:

eVGA e-GeForce4 MX 440
User manual, warranty card, CD with drivers (v27.20/Win9x and v27.30/WinXP) and demo programs, CD with PowerDVD XP 4.0 player, S-Video extender. An S-Video-to-RCA adapter is not supplied.
Chaintech A-G440 GeForce4 MX 440
User manual, CD with drivers, an S-Video extender. An S-Video-to-RCA adapter is not supplied.
Chaintech A-G441 GeForce4 MX 440 SE
User Manual, CD with drivers, two CDs with MDK2 and AquaNox games, S-Video extender. An S-Video-to-RCA adapter is not supplied.
SUMA Platinum GeForce4 MX 440
User manual, CD with drivers and Rainbow Six demo in Korean :-), poster with brief installation instructions and description of the card.


All video cards come onto the market in a retail package.

eVGA e-GeForce4 MX 440
The most attractive box among the today's packages. On its back side is a window displaying the card. You, thus, can compare serial numbers on the box and on the card to make sure the card is right.
Chaintech A-G440 GeForce4 MX 440
The package is traditional for the latest releases of Chaintech. It shows an engine with aggressive name GeForceX (instead of X they put a corresponding figure :-) ).
Chaintech A-G441 GeForce4 MX 440 SE
Well, this box is meant to be presented. However, there are some minor drawbacks. Look what is written on both sides of the package. First of all, there is no a single word about this particular product - MX 440, MX 440/460 with 32(?!)/64 MB memory. And only a little sticker in the corner says that inside we have a MX 440. And a sticker on the front side informs about 64MB DDR memory. It is not very convenient for users, and it's easy to deceive them.
SUMA Platinum GeForce4 MX 440
The most elegant and stylish package; it is typical of SUMA.



That's all I had to say about peculiarities of the cards. As far as TV-out is concerned I have nothing to add to the previous material.

Overclocking

eVGA e-GeForce4 MX 440 270/400 -> 300/500 MHz
Chaintech A-G440 GeForce4 MX 440 270/400 -> 310/488 MHz
Chaintech A-G441 GeForce4 MX 440 SE 270/400 -> 310/500 MHz
SUMA Platinum GeForce4 MX 440 270/400 -> 300/560 MHz



Well, the Hynix 4ns memory helped the SUMA a lot! The other cards have reached only 250 (500) MHz (despite their 5 ns memory and rated 200 (400) MHz) except the Chaintech A-G440 GeForce4 MX 440.

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 processor (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:

  • MSI GF4MX440 (GeForce4 MX 440, 270/200 (400) MHz, 64 MBytes) - as a NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440;
  • Gainward GeForce2 Ti/500 (250/200 (400) MHz, 64 MBytes) as a NVIDIA GeForce2 Ti;
  • Chaintech A-320 GeForce3 Ti 200 (175/200 (400) MHz, 64 MBytes) as a NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 200;
  • ASUS AGP-V8200 Deluxe (GeForce3, 200/230 (460) MHz, 64 MBytes) as a NVIDIA GeForce3;
  • ATI RADEON 7500 (RADEON 7500, 290/230 (460) 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.

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, multitexturing, Checkpoint-demo, test settings - maximum, S3TC OFF, the configurations can be downloaded from here

To get more detailed information on performance of MX 440 based cards go to our 3Digest (I especially recommend that you read the anisotropy section)

Serious Sam: The Second Encounter

Grand Cathedral, quality mode

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

Look how strongly the RADEON 7500 reacts on activation of three texture units on the pixel pipeline. Although the graphics is very complicated this card perfects extremely well in high resolutions. The GeForce2 Ti is an outsider. The overclocked SUMA Platinum GeForce4 MX 440 came very close to the GeForce3 Ti 200. By why not onto the same level? Go further.

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.

Apart from a defeat of the RADEON 7500 we can see that the overclocked SUMA Platinum GeForce4 MX 440 outscores the GeForce3 Ti 200 and catches up with the GeForce3! Let's come back to the previous test. What is such difference is accounted by? The matter is that the GeForce3 can work with 4 textures in a pass while GeForce4 MX, like all GeForce2, handles only two. And while the Quake3's engine which the Return to Castle Wolfenstein is based on doesn't support quadratexturing the Serious Sam does. That is why in that test the GeForce3 cards are unapproachable even for the overclocked MX 440!

Conclusion

So, we have just compared some more video cards based on the GeForce4 MX 440. There are stars among them :-)

Note that some cards have a BIOS version incompatible with 27.* drivers in the Windows 9x. The monitor shows snow and stripes. It can be cured by flashing the BIOS.

  1. The eVGA e-GeForce4 MX 440 is excellent in quality and has a good set of accessories.
  2. The Chaintech A-G440 GeForce4 MX 440 has almost the lowest price among MX 440 cards available today.
  3. SUMA Platinum GeForce4 MX 440 is the best overclockable card. Besides, it has a pleasant accessory set which includes an S-Video-to-RCA adapter.

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

Highs:

  • Excellent performance in 3D graphics (higher than of GeForce2 Ti cards);
  • High quality of the cards;
  • A good set of accessories of the Retail package;
  • Incredible overclockability of the SUMA'a card;
  • Relatively low prices;
  • An excellent set of accessories and an attractive design of the Chaintech A-G441 GeForce4 MX 440 SE;
  • Unique cooler (ACS) of the eVGA's solution.

Lows:

  • Lack of S-Video-to-RCA adapters of the eVGA and Chaintech cards.

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