iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440/460/440-8x Video Cards Roundup

Part 6. October 2002:
Albatron GeForce4 MX480
Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack Pro/600-8X XP
Leadtek WinFast A180 DDR TH MyVIVO
MSI MX440-8x
Prolink PixelView GeForce4 MX440-8x

October 24, 2002


  1. Peculiarities of the video cards
  2. Test conditions and drivers, 2D estimation 
  3. Information on performance of such cards from 3Digest
  4. Conclusion 
The today's article is devoted to new solutions on the GeForce4 MX 440 processors with AGP8x (further referred to as MX440-8x). The MX440 based cards are widely spread on the market and occupy a middle niche in the 3D graphics sometimes falling down to $70. The added AGP8x boosts up their performance a little (we could see that here), but does it makes sense to pay so much attention to these old-new solutions? It does because the performance in 3D has risen not only at the expense of AGP8x (and there are not many mainboards having that support), but also at the expense of increased memory frequency due to the speedier DDR modules. Moreover, almost all new-comers arrive with new bundles and new functions. 

So, today we will have a look at the MX440-8x as a new competitor of the ATI RADEON 9000 and SIS Xabre400. 

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

Today we have five cards from Taiwanese manufacturers. You all know the names of Albatron, Gainward, Leadtek, MSI and Prolink (PixelView) very well. They tried to attract attention by new accessories and a weird appearance.  


All the cards have AGP x2/x4 interface, four of them have 64 MB DDR SDRAM, and the Prolink's card has 128 MB DDR SDRAM, located in 4 chips on the front PCB side (and on both sides on the Prolink's card).
Albatron GeForce4 MX480 

Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack Pro/600-8X XP Golden Sample 

Leadtek WinFast A180 DDR TH MyVIVO 

MSI MX440-8x 

Prolink PixelView GeForce4 MX440-8x 

Albatron GeForce4 MX480 

This card comes with Samsung memory modules of 3.6ns access time. The card works at 300/256 (513) MHz. The chips's frequency is higher by 25 MHz than the NVIDIA's recommended one. 

Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack Pro/600-8X XP Golden Sample 

This card comes with Samsung memory modules of 3.3ns access time. The card works at 275/256 (513) MHz in the standard mode and at 300/300 (600) MHz in the Enhanced mode. 

Leadtek WinFast A180 DDR TH MyVIVO 
This card comes with Samsung memory modules of 3.6ns access time. The card works at 275/256 (513) MHz. 

MSI MX440-8x 
This card comes with Hynix memory modules of 3.6ns access time. The card works at 275/256 (513) MHz. 

Prolink PixelView GeForce4 MX440-8x 
This card comes with Samsung memory modules of 4ns access time. The card works at 280/260 (520) MHz. 

Comparison with the reference design, front view 
Albatron GeForce4 MX480  Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440 with AGP8x 

Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack Pro/600-8X XP Golden Sample 

MSI MX440-8x 

Prolink PixelView GeForce4 MX440-8x 

Comparison with the reference design, back view
Albatron GeForce4 MX480  Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440 with AGP8x 

Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack Pro/600-8X XP Golden Sample 

Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440 with AGP8x 

MSI MX440-8x 

Only three cards from Albatron, MSI and Gainward have a design which entirely coincides with the reference one. The model from Leadtek is changed a little because of the hardware monitoring and an additional connector for the external Leadtek TV-box. The Prolink's card has memory in the traditional package because of 128MB, hence the changes in the PCB's design. 

I consider that 128MB of the memory make the AGP8x a dead weight, as we could see that in the review on NV28/NV18. And the high scores of this card are on the account of a high clock speed of the memory in comparison to the previous MX440. 

The developers from Gainward and Albatron are above all. In spite of the entirely reference design of the Gainward's solution it comes complete with the faster memory (3.3ns), and the chips were taken only those which proved to work flawlessly at 300 MHz. That is why a user can start up this card at 300/600 MHz not worrying that it might overheat. It also concerns the Albatron's solution though it's bundled with the 3.6ns memory. This is in fact an MX 460: the chip's clocked at 300 MHz, 3.6ns memory able to work at 275 (550) MHz.

Here is how the coolers look like: 

Albatron GeForce4 MX480 

This big cooler works both for the chip and memory. I said it before a lot of times that such cooling methods can be harmful as the heatsink is not snug against all the chips equally. But this heatsink is not very big, and we can be more or less sure it's pressed tightly to the chips, especially because thermo stickers are used here. Well, cooling is so intense because the core's running at the increased speed of 300 MHz. But note that the standard MX440-8x chip can be cooled down by a usual heatsink and the 3.6ns chips operating at low clock speeds (lower than rated) need no cooling at all. 

Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack Pro/600-8X XP Golden Sample 
Gainward likes coolers looking like blossoming flowers :-). Such a feeble cooler (as it might look at first glance) helps the chip run at 300 MHz. 

Leadtek WinFast A180 DDR TH MyVIVO 
This cooler is typical of Leadtek. It consists of an aluminum heatsink with curved pretty frames with a big fan inside. Although effectiveness of such cooler is not great, NVIDIA recommended a heatsink without any fan at all for such cards. 

MSI MX440-8x 
The MSI's cooler is more massive and effective. Such devices could be seen on more powerful and warmer cards. Besides, this cooler looks more productive as well. 

Prolink PixelView GeForce4 MX440-8x 
Prolink uses a cooling system both for the chip and memory as the memory has 4ns access time and is clocked at 256 (513) MHz which is higher than the rated frequency. The heatsinks are placed both on the memory modules and on the back side of the PCB. 

The coolers hide the GeForce4 MX440-8x GPU: 

All the cards, except the Albatron's one, are equipped with the Philips 7114 codec controlling VIVO: 

But the MSI doesn't support Video-In in spite of such a universal coprocessor. The card is supplied with adapters only for TV-out; software for Video-In is lacking as well. 

The Albatron's card has no external codec and TV-out is supported by the GeForce4 MX 440. 

As you know, Leadtek produces the TDH (TH) series which supports hardware monitoring. Some time ago we dealt with some cards coming with this function. It monitors the temperature of the card and a speed of rotation of the fan of the chip's cooler. There are LEDs on the card which notify about overheating and AGP 8x mode activation. The monitoring works via the WinFox II utility which comes with the card on a CD with drivers. 

Gainward supplies with its card the ExpertTool utility which makes adjustments for 2D simpler and also incorporates an overclocker. With this utility you can set the Enhanced Mode, i.e. set the frequencies of 300/300 (600) MHz. And you don't need any utilities to set 300/512 MHz forthe Albatron's card.  

Now it's time to estimate the boxes and their "insides". 

Albatron GeForce4 MX480 
User Guide, CD with drivers, WinDVD, S-video-to-RCA adapter, S-Video splitter. 

Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack Pro/600-8X XP Golden Sample 
User Guide, CD with drivers, WinDVD, InterVideo WinCoder/WinProducer (Video-In), adapter/splitter for VIVO, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter. 

Leadtek WinFast A180 DDR TH MyVIVO 
User Guide, CD with drivers, games (AquaNox, Master Rally, Black Thorn and several demo versions of other games), CyberLink PowerDirector (Video-In), adapter/splitter for VIVO, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter, S-Video extender. 

MSI MX440-8x 
User Guide, plenty of CDs: with drivers, FarStone VirtualDrive, RestoreIt; InterVideo WinDVD 5.1; MSI 3D Desktop; CD with 7 demo versions of games; Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind; Duke Nuken MP; Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon games, S-video-to-RCA adapter, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter, S-Video extender, a proprietary sticker for the computer case. 

Prolink PixelView GeForce4 MX440-8x 
User Guide, CD with drivers, games (Venom, Serious Sam), CyberLink PowerDirector (Video-In), WinDVD 4.0; adapter/splitter for VIVO, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter, S-Video extender. 

All video cards ship in the retail packages.
Albatron GeForce4 MX480 
The box from Albatron has become a symbol of this company: a mirror surface, stylish words etc. But no stickers. All words are written (not just stuck to the box). 

Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack Pro/600-8X XP Golden Sample
This is a traditional box from Gainward with a slightly altered design (the color is changed for white and blue, and the man pictured is changed for a girl). 

Leadtek WinFast A180 DDR TH MyVIVO 
The company has altered not only the design of the box but its appearance as well. Now it's made of thick cardboard which opens easily; and it's not necessary anymore to take off a shell of thin cardboard. 

MSI MX440-8x 
The box has a conventional design in black colors with a very disagreeable muzzle of some monster. All main characteristics of the card and its accessories are written on the box. 

Prolink PixelView GeForce4 MX440-8x 
On the whole, the box is similar to what could be seen earlier from this company, but a picture of a sexy girl is definitely something new :-). 

That's all we had to say about peculiarities of the card. 


Albatron GeForce4 MX480  300/513 -> 338/652 MHz 
Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack Pro/600-8X XP Golden Sample  300/600 -> 340/696 MHz
Leadtek WinFast A180 DDR TH MyVIVO  275/513 -> 325/640 MHz 
MSI MX440-8x  275/513 -> 320/644 MHz 
Prolink PixelView GeForce4 MX440-8x  280/520 -> 320/580 MHz 

As expected: the faster the memory, the higher the overclocking potential. And I must note that the Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack Pro/600-8X XP Golden Sample and Albatron GeForce4 MX480 have an extremely high potential.


  • 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


  • Pentium 4 2530 MHz based getup: 
    • Intel Pentium 4 2530 MHz; 
    • ASUS P4T533 (i850E) mainboard; 
    • 512 MB 32bit RDRAM PC4200; 
    • Seagate Barracuda IV 40GB HDD; 
    • Windows XP. 
  • Athlon XP 2000+ based getup: 
    • AMD Athlon XP 2000+ (1666 MHz); 
    • Soltek 75DRV5 (VIA KT333) mainboard; 
    • 512 MB DDR SDRAM PC2700; 
    • Seagate Barracuda IV 40GB HDD. 
The test system was coupled with ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors.

In the tests we used NVIDIA's drivers of v40.72. 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. 
Certainly we do our best to improve the situation, but we are not almighty, that is why I can't promise anything. 

As for the tested samples, together with the ViewSonic P817 monitor and BNC Bargo cable the cards showed excellent quality at the following resolutions and frequencies:

  • Albatron GeForce4 MX480: 1280x1024x120Hz, 1600x1200x75Hz; 
  • Leadtek WinFast A180 DDR TH MyVIVO: 1280x1024x100Hz, 1600x1200x75Hz; 
  • MSI MX440-8x: 1280x1024x100Hz, 1600x1200x75Hz; 
  • Prolink PixelView GeForce4 MX440-8x: 1280x1024x100Hz, 1600x1200x75Hz; 
For 3D performance estimation we used: 
  • 3DMark2001 SE Pro (MadOnion/Remedy) - DirectX 8.1, Hardware TCL, multitexturing, LOW Details, DXTC OFF, double buffering, 24-bit Z-buffer

Game 1, Low details


As you can see, the new solutions from NVIDIA outedge the RADEON 9000 Pro, though the latter is very close on the heels. But the cards from Gainward and Albatron are undoubted leaders. Look how strongly the GeForce4 MX based cards depend on the memory's speed. Although it differs from the GeForce2 MX, but, still, the low effectiveness of the memory throughput makes its effect. 

Game 2, Low details


Now we have another leader... but it has nothing with the Gainward's and Albatron's cards which are still ahead.  

Game 3, Low details


The forces are almost equal in high resolutions (the Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack Pro/600-8X XP Golden Sample thrives again followed by the Albatron GeForce4 MX480). 

3D Marks


The NV18 in all three cards fights only against the ATI RADEON 9000 Pro; the RADEON 9000 is far behind in speed and the SIS Xabre400 displays a lower-quality picture. 

Also remember that the ATI RADEON 9000 Pro supports the DirectX 8.1 entirely while the NV18 (MX440-8x) only pretends to support vertex shaders and doesn't know about pixel ones at all.

Below are the summary diagrams from our 3Digest where you can find thorough information on performance of such cards. 

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

All the cards functioned properly, I had no complains (certainly, within the test bundle that we traditionally use, we cannot guarantee that any card will work flawlessly in any game just because of the well-known physical limitations :-). 


So, do the cards based on the chipsets without DirectX 8.1 make sense, even if they are buttered, with AGP 8x?... Well, yes! While the programmers from ATI are messing up with games and drivers, when one thing is cured and another damaged, the GeForce4 MX based cards will remain popular! Because beside shaders and beautiful waters from Morrowind, users need stability in games and certain protection from bugs. And the RADEON 9000 has a lot of troubles in this respect, though if it had good drivers, the GeForce4 MX would be smashed to pieces :-). At present, cards based on the ATI have very scarce accessory packs at that. And VIVO is supported quite seldom on the RADEON 9000/Pro. 

  1. Albatron GeForce4 MX480 - it has no distinguishing features in its appearance, but it possesses two very strong points: an increased frequency of the chip and a relatively low price. In all the other respects, it follows the NVIDIA's recommendations. Besides, I like more the quality of a TV image obtained via the TV-out built into the GPU than quality of a similar image obtained with external codecs.
  2. Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack Pro/600-8X XP Golden Sample - it proved to be the fastest sprinter in this round and in its class, well, the label "Golden Sample" forces it to be such. The card possesses all enchanting features, including VIVO. The only downside is that it doesn't have any games coming with it.
  3. Leadtek WinFast A180 DDR TH MyVIVO - this is a standard for other companies as far as accessories and components of the card are concerned. Although the capabilities of the MX440 (even with AGP 8x) are too modest for modern games, the Leadtek still looks tempting, and if it's not going to be overpriced, the card will find its customers. Besides, it supports Video-In and hardware monitoring.  
  4. MSI MX440-8x - this card has the richest software bundle. It seems that the company made up for the lacking Video-In with an excellent set of games and other programs. There are about ten utilities! Some were already described in our reviews. And the fact that MSI delivers Morrowind, this very popular game, makes me feel respectful to it.  
  5. Prolink PixelView GeForce4 MX440-8x - this card supports Video-In (as well as Video-Out :-). It has almost the lowest price among MX440-8x solutions and in addition to VIVO it has 128 MB memory (though it might seem useless now) and a decent software package. The card can easily become popular with such characteristics.  
In our 3Digest you can find complete comparison characteristics of video cards of this and other classes. 


  • Very good performance in 3D games (though the RADEON 9000 runs right after the NVIDIA, and at a comparable price it has richer 3D features, though VIVO is rarely supported); 
  • High build quality of the tested samples; 
  • High overclocking potential; 
  • 128 MB memory of the Prolink PixelView GeForce4 MX440-8x, though at present it's useless in games; 
  • VIVO supported by the Gainward, Leadtek and Prolink cards; 
  • TV-out supported by all the cards. 
  • Overpriced MX440-8x cards, according to the preliminary analyses of the prices. 
Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com

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