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Sparkle
SP7200T4 (GeForce4 Ti 4400)
and SP7200T6 (GeForce4 Ti 4600),
ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti 4600
Video Card

June 19, 2002



Contents

  1. Peculiarities of NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4400/4600 based video cards from ABIT, Sparkle
  2. Information on performance of video cards of the GeForce4 Ti 4400/4600 class

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

Today we will speak about companies which remain in the shadow to some reason. For example, ABIT: on the one hand, this is a well-known company which has been conquering the video card market for 1.5 years already, on the other hand, its products are not very popular among customers. However, the tests show that the ABIT's accelerators do not differ much in quality and reliability from, for example, ASUS or Leadtek... At the same time, they are much less expensive. It concerns Sparkle as well. This company seems to be an outcast and its products often sell as noname solutions. But we already tested some cards of this company and made sure that Sparkle doesn't deserve such treatment.

Today we will examine video cards based on the most powerful GPUs for today which are NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4400/4600, from the companies mentioned above. All of them are based on the reference design, that is why there is no differences. However, there is one interesting thing, first of all, it concerns the Sparkle cards - the lowest price for today!

Cards

All cards have an AGP x2/x4 interface, 128 DDR SGRAM located in 8 chips on both sides of the PCB.


Sparkle SP7200T4 (GeForce4 Ti 4400)
Sparkle SP7200T6 (GeForce4 Ti 4600)
ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti 4600



Sparkle SP7200T4 (GeForce4 Ti 4400)
This card comes with Samsung memory modules of 3.6ns access time which corresponds to 275 (550) MHz. The memory works this frequency. The GPU operates at 275 MHz, which is typical of the Ti 4400.
Sparkle SP7200T6 (GeForce4 Ti 4600)
This card comes with Samsung memory modules of 2.8ns access time which corresponds to 357 (714) MHz. The card works at 300/325 (650) MHz, which are rated frequencies for the Ti 4600.
ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti 4600
This card comes with Samsung memory modules of 2.8ns access time which corresponds to 357 (714) MHz. The card works at 300/325 (650) MHz, which are rated frequencies for the Ti 4600.



Comparison with the reference design, front view
Sparkle SP7200T4 (GeForce4 Ti 4400) Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4400
Sparkle SP7200T6 (GeForce4 Ti 4600) Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600
ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti 4600 Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600



Comparison with the reference design, back view
Sparkle SP7200T4 (GeForce4 Ti 4400) Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4400
Sparkle SP7200T6 (GeForce4 Ti 4600) Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600
ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti 4600 Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600


All three cards correspond to the reference design. The ABIT's card has only a black PCB. And the Sparkle cards have VIVO (Video-In, Video-Out) based on the Philips 7108 codec, and are inexpensive.

The ABIT's card has only a TV-out.

Of course, cooling devices are the most remarkable elements on the modern cards.


Sparkle SP7200T4 (GeForce4 Ti 4400) / Sparkle SP7200T6 (GeForce4 Ti 4600)
As you can see, there are standard coolers recommended by NVIDIA for such cards.
ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti 4600
ABIT keeps its traditions, and as usual it installs the same cooler you could see on all its cards for 1.5 years already. Besides, the memory chips are covered with heatsinks, which is also typical of ABIT :-).


All cards have DVI and d-Sub connectors unsoldered. Two CRT monitors can be connected through DVI-to-VGA adapters, which are included into the packages.

Quality of operation of the TV-out and VIVO was estimated earlier in our reviews (see the list above).

Now let's take a look at the accessories.


Sparkle SP7200T4 (GeForce4 Ti 4400) / Sparkle SP7200T6 (GeForce4 Ti 4600)
User manual (booklet), CD with drivers and utilities, CD with CyberLink PowerDirector (for Video-In), DVI-to-VGA adapter, adapter-splitter for VIVO, S-Video extender.
ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti 4600
User manual (booklet), CD with drivers and utilities, CD with NVIDIA demo programs: Experience CD, DVI-to-VGA adapter, S-Video-to-RCA adapter, S-Video and RCA extenders.



All cards ship in retail packages.


Sparkle SP7200T4 (GeForce4 Ti 4400)
The package has a design recommended by NVIDIA, unfortunately, nothing is said about VIVO.
Sparkle SP7200T6 (GeForce4 Ti 4600)
The box doesn't differ from the previous one (except the words).
ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti 4600
The design is typical of ABIT with a peculiar pattern.


Overclocking


Sparkle SP7200T4 (GeForce4 Ti 4400) 275/550 -> 300/652 MHz
Sparkle SP7200T6 (GeForce4 Ti 4600) 300/650 -> 325/730 MHz
ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti 4600 300/650 -> 310/750 MHz

As you can see, the Sparkle cards have scored excellent results, while the ABIT's solution is more modest.

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

Taking into account that we have already studied all peculiarities of operation of the NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4400/4600, there is no need to repeat them again. Besides, our 3Digest widely covers performance of such cards in comparison with many others.

Testbeds:

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

  • Athlon XP 1666 MHz (2000+) based computer:
    • AMD Athlon XP 2000+
    • EPoX 8KHA+ (VIA KT266A);
    • 512 MBytes DDR SDRAM PC2100;
    • Fujutsu 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 v29.20. VSync was off, S3TC was off.

Test results

Before we start examining 2D quality I should say that there is no a complete technique of objective estimation of this parameter because:

  1. Almost all modern 3D accelerators can have 2D quality much dependent on a certain sample, and it's impossible to trace all cards;
  2. 2D quality depends not only on a video card, but also on a monitor and a cable;
  3. Besides, certain monitors do not get along with certain video cards.

As for the tested samples, together with the ViewSonic P817 monitor and BNC Bargo cable the Sparkle cards showed excellent quality at 1600x1200x85 Hz and 1280x1024x100 Hz. And the ABIT's card demonstrated poorer quality at 1600x1200x85 Hz.

For estimation of 3D performance we used:

  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein (MultiPlayer) (id Software/Activision) - OpenGL, multitexturing, Checkpoint-demo, test settings - maximum, S3TC OFF, the configurations can be downloaded from here
  • Test order: enable the console with the '~' button and type:

    timedemo 1 (press Enter)
    demo checkpoint (press Enter)

  • 3DMark2001 SE Pro (MadOnion/Remedy), Game2 "Dragothic" - DirectX 8.0, Hardware TCL, multitexturing, LOW Details, DXTC OFF, double buffering, 24-bit Z-buffer
  • Test order:

    through the 3DMark2001 menu of settings using the Batch mode

  • Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v.1.05 (Croteam/GodGames) - OpenGL, multitexturing, Grand Cathedral demo, test settings: quality, S3TC OFF
  • Test order: enable the console with the '~' button and type:

    dem_bProfile=1 (press Enter)
    start up Grand Cathedral demo from the menu

  • Quake3 Arena v.1.17 (id Software/Activision) - OpenGL, multitexturing, Quaver, test settings are maximum: detail level - High, texture detailing level - #4, S3TC OFF, smoothness of curved surfaces is greatly increased with variables r_subdivisions "1" and r_lodCurveError "30000" (at default r_lodCurveError is 250 !), the configurations can be downloaded from here

  • 3DMark2001 Pro (MadOnion/Remedy) - DirectX 8.0, Hardware TCL, Game1, Game2, Game3, Game4, Low, High detail levels

  • Comanche4 Benchmark Demo (NovaLogic) - Direct3D, Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, highest quality
  • Test order: start up the game the following way:

    c4demo.exe /advbench fps.txt 1024 32 noaudio nct dx7 (press Enter)

  • RightMark Video Analyzer v.0.3.2 (Philip Gerasimov) - DirectX 8.1, Dot3, cube texturing, shadow buffers, vertex and pixel shaders (1.1, 1.4).
  • test settings: pixel shaders 1.1, shadow buffers OFF.

The overclocked cards are marked with red color, the sign o/c (overclocked) is followed by the frequencies reached.

Conclusion

I think there's no need to draw conclusions on the performance results because everything that must be said is said and all the rest can be found in our 3Digest. But I have something to say about the video cards.

Priced at $230 and $305, the video cards based on the GeForce4 Ti 4400 and Ti 4600 from Sparkle possess excellent price/quality/speed ratios. Besides, both cards have VIVO!

The ABIT's card looks more modest, but its price is low as well, that is why it can be a nice purchase for those who can afford such a powerful accelerator. All the cards in question have impeccable quality, a little worse 2D quality of the y ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti 4600 can be peculiar only to the given sample. But on the whole, the card leaves a good impression.

Highs:

  • Excellent performance in modern 3D games;
  • High quality of the tested samples;
  • Reference-based design;
  • TV-out of the ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti 4600 and VIVO of both Sparkle cards;
  • All necessary adapters provided.

Lows:

  • Lack of games.

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