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NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440/460 Video Cards Roundup Part 4. May 2002:
AOpen GeForce4 MX 460
Gainward PowerPack Pro/650 (GeForce4 MX 460)
Leadtek WinFast A170 DDR T (GeForce4 MX 440)
Triplex Millennium Silver MX440

May 31, 2002



Today we will examine one more batch of video cards based on the NVIDIA GeForce4 MX. We have received cards based on the MX 460, one card on the MX 440 and a hybrid - a card on the MX 440 but with the MX 460's memory.

Today we will also analyze how the performance of these video cards changes with regard to the CPU's frequency and platforms. But first of all, take a look at the articles of already reviewed cards based on the GeForce4 MX.

Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards which concern functional properties of the NVIDIA GeForce4 MX GPU

In the first review in the list we described the GeForce4 MX family in depth. I just want to say that this family is meant for mainstream market, i.e. for users who want a video card cheaper than $100-120. As it often happens, the prices for just appeared MX 460 are over $120. But I think by June they will fall down, because there are GeForce4 Ti 4200 cards available at $170 for 64 MBytes model. I think you understand that the difference between them is huge although the memory size is the same.

You should also remember about GeForce3 cards (Ti 200/500) which are widely available on the market. The cheapest (Ti 200) has a more attractive price than the MX 460 despite wider 3D capabilities. That is why I think that the whole GeForce4 MX line will be up to $100. But is it worth buying new castrates instead of old GeForce2 Ti/Pro? As you know, prices for the old ones have fallen down considerably to the level of $50. The only thing that the MX has is a new kind of AA (Quincunx, 4xS) and a dualhead support of the MX 460. That is why you should carefully examine 3D performance scores, compare prices and account for the dualhead support. Especially it concerns those users who are going to get new cards for their old cases the power of which is often low. Today we will test the GeForce4 MX on the Pentium 4 2.2 GHz platform (evidently, this processor doesn't limit the performance of such cards :-)) and on the Pentium III 1.0 GHz (i815).

There are quite interesting samples among the tested cards. For example, the Leadtek's one which is an intermediate stage between the MX 440 and 460. Or the Triplex's card which has a silver-covered PCB.

I guess you know Leadtek, Gainward and AOpen quite well, while Triplex was spoken about in the GeForce3 Ti 200 and GeForce4 Ti 4600 review.

Cards

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

AOpen GeForce4 MX 460
Gainward Powerpack Pro/650 XP Golden Sample (MX 460)
Leadtek WinFast A170 DDR T (MX 440 with 3.6ns RAM)
Triplex Millennium Silver GeForce4 MX 440
AOpen GeForce4 MX 460
Samsung 3.6ns memory chips correspond to 300/275 (550) MHz.
Gainward Powerpack Pro/650 XP Golden Sample (MX 460)
Samsung 3.6ns memory chips. As usual, The Golden Sample cards have two operating modes: usual and extremal. The mode must be set in course of installation of the software. This card works at 300/275 (550) MHz in the usual mode and at 320/300 (600) MHz in the extremal one.
Leadtek WinFast A170 DDR T (MX 440 with 3.6ns RAM)
Samsung 3.6ns memory chips. The card works at 270/250 (500) MHz.
Triplex Millennium Silver GeForce4 MX 440
Samsung 4ns memory chips. The card works at 270/200 (400) MHz.
Comparison with the reference design, front view Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 460/440
AOpen GeForce4 MX 460
Gainward Powerpack Pro/650 XP Golden Sample (MX 460)
Leadtek WinFast A170 DDR T (MX 440 with 3.6ns RAM)
Triplex Millennium Silver GeForce4 MX 440
Comparison with the reference design, back view Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 460/440
AOpen GeForce4 MX 460
Gainward Powerpack Pro/650 XP Golden Sample (MX 460)
Leadtek WinFast A170 DDR T (MX 440 with 3.6ns RAM)
Triplex Millennium Silver GeForce4 MX 440

The first two cards are as like as two peas: they differ only in the PCB color and in coolers. Both are based on the reference design.

The Leadtek GeForce4 MX 440 card is assembled on the MX 460's PCB and comes with the same memory in the BGA package with 3.6ns access time. Unlike the dualhead MX 460 card, this one doesn't have a DVI connector.

This hybrid is going to replace the earlier released simple MX 440 cards, that is why it must be available at $100-120.

The Triplex's product is a copy of the MX 440 reference sample, with the PCB covered with a thin silver layer. In the Triplex Millennium Silver GeForce4 Ti 4600 review I said that this technology is used to reduce effects of various pickups and decrease the overall temperature of the card which is heated up mostly by the chip. But note that I didn't test its effectiveness, maybe I will do very soon.

As you already know, all modern cooling devices are real pieces of arts on which the talented designers and artists spend hours. Of course, it doesn't concern all cards, but their quantity keeps on growing.

AOpen GeForce4 MX 460
The cooling device is a copy of the reference one, though this one looks more stylish. This is a closed heatsink with tunnels inside for air flows driven in by the fan. The latter is shifted off from the chipset's center, and there is no more a dead zone above the GPU.
Gainward Powerpack Pro/650 XP Golden Sample (MX 460)
All coolers from Gainward are roundish, but they have different heatsinks. We saw a similar configuration of the heatsink on the GeForce2 Ti based card.
Leadtek WinFast A170 DDR T (MX 440 with 3.6ns RAM)
Such construction of the cooler was used in the GeForce4 MX 440 video card. This cooler is made by Titan. The heatsink has "ears" on its sides. The fan is silvery and is well matched with the heatsink.
Triplex Millennium Silver GeForce4 MX 440
Although the design of the PCB looks original, the cooler is ordinary. It has a standard cylindrical heatsink with a fan in the middle.

As you can see below, the AOpen and Gainward cards come with the GeForce4 MX 460 GPUs:

The Leadtek WinFast A170 DDR T has a MX 440 processor:

That is why this card is referred to the MX 440 class despite its design.

The cooler of the Triplex card is attached to the chip so rigidly that I decided not to take it off because of possible damage.

The MX 460 cards have VGA and DVI connectors. They have a normal nView support, including TV-out. However, the AOpen and Gainward cards are also equipped with the VideoIn (VIVO) via Philips 7108:

The VideoIn comes with the following software CyberLink Power VCR for the AOpen's card which can record a video stream in MPEG1, AVI (with a standard suite of compressions); Gainward offers InterVideo WinCoder/WinProducer which has wider capabilities for operation with a video stream.

The TV-out of the MX 440 is realized using the GPU's capabilities. However, the Triplex card doesn't have an S-Video-to-RCA adapter, and you won't be able to display images on a TV screen through RCA.

By the way, let's pop into the boxes and see what's inside:

AOpen GeForce4 MX 460
User manual, CD with drivers, CD with CyberLink Power VCR (for VideoIn), CD with WinDVD 4.0 player, VIVO adapter/splitter.
Gainward Powerpack Pro/650 XP Golden Sample (MX 460)
User manual, CD with drivers, CD with InterVideo WinCoder/WinProducer, CD with WinDVD 3.2, VIVO adapter/splitter, sticker.
Leadtek WinFast A170 DDR T (MX 440 with 3.6ns RAM)
User manual, CD with drivers, 2 CDs with Gunlock and DroneZ games, S-Video extender, S-Video-to-RCA adapter.
Triplex Millennium Silver GeForce4 MX 440
User manual, CD with drivers and utilities, S-Video extender.

All cards ship in the retail package.

AOpen GeForce4 MX 460
The design is typical of AOpen, it has a cut-out through which you can see the card, or rather, its most beautiful part - cooler. The card is packed in a plastic package which in its turn is put in the box.
Gainward Powerpack Pro/650 XP Golden Sample (MX 460)
This package is common for the whole GeForce4 family. Only the sticker below indicates the card. It is very unpleasant that Gainward follows this approach.
Leadtek WinFast A170 DDR T (MX 440 with 3.6ns RAM)
It uses a package of the GeForce4 MX 440 card, but there is a sticker above saying that it has 3.6ns memory.
Triplex Millennium Silver GeForce4 MX 440
This is a very pleasant design which perfectly combines the pink color of the box and a silvery card.

Overclocking

AOpen GeForce4 MX 460 300/550 -> 337/660 MHz
Gainward Powerpack Pro/650 XP Golden Sample (MX 460) 300/550 -> 340/660 MHz
Leadtek WinFast A170 DDR T (MX 440 with 3.6ns RAM) 270/500 -> 310/660 MHz
Triplex Millennium Silver GeForce4 MX 440 270/400 -> 310/480 MHz

The Gainward has the best overclocking potential (it was expected as this company selects components for its Golden Sample series itself). The potential of the Triplex card is limited by the Samsung's memory which is always hard to overclock.

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

Here we examine how the accelerator's performance depends on a CPU frequency (and on a platform), that is why we used two test stands:

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

  • Pentium III 1000 MHz based computer:
    • Intel Pentium III 1000 MHz (133 MHz x 7.5)
    • Chaintech 6OJV2 (i815E);
    • 256 MBytes SDRAM PC133;
    • Seagate Barracuda IV 40 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 v29.40. VSync was off, S3TC was off.

For the comparative analyses we used the following cards:

  • Gainward GeForce2 Ti/500 (250/200 (400) MHz, 64 MBytes) - as NVIDIA GeForce2 Ti;
  • Chaintech A-320 GeForce3 Ti 200 (175/200 (400) MHz, 64 MBytes) - as NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 200;
  • ATI RADEON 7500 (RADEON 7500, 290/230 (460) MHz, 64 MBytes, driver 6.058).

Both MX 460 based cards show identical results in all tests, that is why we spare you from the same bars: we marked the scores of both cards as NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 460.

Test results

Before I estimate 2D quality I must warn you that at present there is no a complete technique of objective estimation of this parameter because:

  1. In case of almost all modern 3D accelerators 2D quality can depend much on a certain sample, and it's impossible to test all cards;
  2. 2D quality also depends on a monitor and a cable;
  3. Besides, it depends on friendliness of a certain monitor toward a certain video card.

We can found something like a lab of experts for estimation of quality of an output signal of your cards. But to get more or less objective estimation it's necessary to collect pleanty of data on different cards, which is impossible. That is why 2D quality is not kept track on here.

Of course, we try to do our best to improve this situation, but I can't promise anything now.

As far as the tested samples are concerned, I can say that together with the ViewSonic P817 monitor and a BNC Bargo cable they showed excellent quality at the following resolutions and frequencies:

  • AOpen GeForce4 MX 460: 1280x1024x100 Hz, 1600x1200x75 Hz;
  • Gainward Powerpack Pro/650 XP Golden Sample (MX 460): 1280x1024x100 Hz, 1600x1200x75 Hz;
  • Leadtek WinFast A170 DDR T (MX 440 with 3.6ns RAM): 1280x1024x100 Hz, 1600x1200x75 Hz;
  • Triplex Millennium Silver GeForce4 MX 440: 1280x1024x85 Hz, 1600x1200x75 Hz (quality is a little worse);

For estimation of 3D quality we used:

  • 3DMark2001 SE (MadOnion) - a synthetic test which demonstrates operation of a card in DirectX 8.1.

In our 3Digest you can find detailed information on performance of the MX 440 cards as they include a lot of tests (I especially recommend that you look through the anisotropy section).

The tests were carried out in the 32bit mode.

3D Mark2001 SE

Game1 Low Details

This test shows that the GeForce4 MX 460 is really a leader. Even the GeForce3 Ti 200 falls behind it. But you should remember that the Game1 is very processor-intensive, especially in 800x600 and 1024x768.

Game2 Low Details

This test forwards those cards which support memory optimization: RADEON 7500 and GeForce3 Ti 200. Although the MX 460 has the same optimization, the low fillrate makes the effect. The Game2 is the least processor-dependant test in the 3DMark2001 package. In the low resolution the gap between the contestants is greater on the more powerful platform.

Game3 Low Details

Here the RADEON 7500 outscored the MX 440 cards and caught up with the MX 460. Remember that we use the fastest variation of the RADEON 7500 produced by ATI which has a relatively high price, while the cheaper RADEON 7500 cards work at lower frequencies. By the way, all these comparisons are included in our 3Digest.

3D MARKS

The MX 440 based cards go on a par with the RADEON 7500 and stomp the GeForce2 Ti into the ground (the Leadtek's card with the increased memory speed outedges the ATI's model in low resolutions, the Triplex's card is a little behind). The MX 460 loses to the GeForce3 Ti 200, but the overclocking makes them faster, and sometimes the Ti 200 is not able to keep its leading position.

Conclusion

We have tested 4 interesting video cards. Each of them has both advantages and disadvantages. First of all I must say that the GeForce4 MX 440 based cards can be excellent substitutes for the aging GeForce2 Ti, if it were not much reduced prices for such cards. However, their production is completed long time ago, that is why only the ATI RADEON 7500 can be an alternative for the MX 440. But with this card (RADEON 7500) there are a lot of problems in estimation of its speed properties because nobody knows at which frequencies one or another RADEON 7500 sample works. As for the MX 460, this is a good choice for those who don't need a so modern support of pixel shaders, but who wants dualhead and VIVO.

  1. AOpen GeForce4 MX 460 is a reference-card based model equipped with VIVO. Excellent quality of the card and a stylish package can influence your choice. However, such cards are not cheap.
  2. Gainward Powerpack Pro/650 XP Golden Sample (MX 460) is a queen among all MX 460 cards. It works at higher frequencies in one of the rated modes and supports VIVO. I just hope it won't cost an arm and a leg.
  3. Leadtek WinFast A170 DDR T (MX 440 with 3.6ns RAM). I don't have much to say about this card as it is not widely available on the market. This is an "under-MX 460", that is why the price must be a match. It will be comparable with the today's MX 440, because it is to replace the MX 440.
  4. Triplex Millennium Silver GeForce4 MX 440. This is the rarest card, like all other products from Triplex. And this is an ordinary card, though it is covered with silver. I'm glad the precious metal didn't affect the price, and this one is not dearer than an average MX 440 (some $100).

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

Highs:

  • Very good performance in 3D graphics (higher than that of the GeForce2 Ti cards);
  • Excellent quality of all tested samples;
  • Good Retail packages (except the Triplex card);
  • Perfect overclockability of the Gainward and AOpen cards;
  • Original design of the Triplex card;
  • Faster memory of the Leadtek WinFast A170 DDR T (MX 440 with 3.6ns RAM) which is to replace MX 440 cards;
  • VIVO of the Gainward and AOpen cards.

Lows:

  • Lack of an S-Video-to-RCA adapter for the Triplex card.

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