iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






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

Part 7. December 2002:
ASUS V9180 VideoSuite
ABIT Siluro GF4 MX-8X
Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 MX440-8X 

December 10, 2002


  1. Peculiarities of the video cards 
  2. Test conditions, 2D quality
  3. Information on performance of (including AA, ANISO) 
  4. Conclusion

Several months ago NVIDIA released the updated solutions built on the GeForce4 Ti 4200 and GeForce4 MX 440 with the AGP8x support. They can hardly be called new products as they differ from the previous versions only in this support. Our tests revealed that this mode is useless for the 128MB cards (and all GeForce4 Ti 4200 models ship with exactly this RAM size onboard), and hardly useful for the 64MB cards; moreover, the AGP8x support is too poor on the VIA KT400 based boards; although it's much better on the SIS648, such boards are not widely popular. 

Below is the list of reviews covering also the MX 440-8x (the short name used by us for the GeForce4 MX 440 with AGP8x). 

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

Today we are to examine three new cards based on the MX440-8x. But it's not just another fashion show and a bunch of diagrams for the 3Digest. We will look again at the capabilities of the today's leader of the mainstream market and even of the low-end one. There are a lot of spears broken in the fight between the MX440 and ATI RADEON 9000/Pro. The new RADEON was on the brink of the victory when NVIDIA hit it from behind with its Mx440-8x. It might seem that the blow is too weak because of the lifeless AGP8x, but the marketers recommended that NVIDIA lift the card's frequencies, i.e. equip the card with faster memory and raise the chip's speed up to 275 MHz (this is the frequency the RADEON 9000 Pro works at :-). The new MX440 turned to be faster than the old one, but not at the expense of the AGP8x, but due to the higher clock speeds. At the same time, we found out that all new super memory optimization technologies which were so much touted, on the GeForce4 MX as well, weren't of much help. Actually, they lifted up only the memory frequency from 200 to 256 MHz (400 to 512 DDR), and the speed went up markedly. The GeForce4 MX is much limited by the memory bandwidth, though not so badly as the GeForce2 MX. And it depends on the memory's clock speed. This is what NVIDIA used in its trick. 

But what about the prices? This is still a new product, while the RADEON 9000 Pro has been selling several months already. Fortunately, the MX440-8x has an acceptable one. Moreover, some manufacturers jacked up the speed of such cards and equipped them with faster memory, though the 3.6ns memory recommended by NVIDIA provided a solid frequency reserve (the rated frequency of such memory is 275 (550) MHz and it is clocked at 256 (512) MHz by default). Will the new cards be competitive against the Ti 4200? Very unlikely, because the MX440 has less rendering pipelines, lower frequencies, lacks a normal multilevel anisotropy support, EMBM, and pixel shaders; vertex shaders are on the shoulders of the CPU. Well, the GeForce4 MX has only the MSAA from the Ti line, which is noticeably faster than the old SSAA, as well as some memory optimization technologies, but they are too scarce here. 

The MX440-8x remains a competitor against the RADEON 9000 Pro: it might lose to the latter in functions and DirectX 8.1 support, but can work more efficiently. Well, today we will check it. Besides, we will pump the cards through the tough modes with AA 2x and anisotropy 2x (unfortunately, the MX440-8x can't work at higher levels). 

So, one of three cards in question is from ASUSTeK. The other two are copies of the reference design. 


All the cards have AGP x2/x4/x8 interface, 64 MB DDR SDRAM located in 4 chips on the front PCB side. 

ASUS V9180 VideoSuite 

ABIT Siluro GF4 MX-8X 

Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 MX440-8X 

ASUS V9180 VideoSuite 
This card comes with Samsung memory modules of 3.3ns access time. The card works at 304/285 (570) MHz. The chip's speed is increased by 29 MHz relative to the one recommended by NVIDIA, and the memory runs at the speed faster by almost 30 (60) MHz. 

ABIT Siluro GF4 MX-8X 
This card comes with Samsung memory modules of 3.6ns access time. The card works at the rated frequency of 275/256 (513) MHz.

Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 MX440-8X 
This card comes with Samsung memory modules of 3.6ns access time. The card works at 275/256 (513) MHz. 

Comparison with the reference design, front view 
ASUS V9180 VideoSuite  Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440 with AGP8x 

ABIT Siluro GF4 MX-8X 

Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 MX440-8X 

Comparison with the reference design, back view
ASUS V9180 VideoSuite  Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440 with AGP8x 

ABIT Siluro GF4 MX-8X 

Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 MX440-8X 


The models of ABIT and InnoVision are in full conformity with the NVIDIA's recommendations, they follow the reference design in every way. The ASUSTeK's card has a different design and supports the status hardware monitoring, the temperature mode is controlled by the Winbond chip: 

The cooler comes with a tachometer, and it's possible to monitor the fan's speed. The Hardware Monitoring is realized by the SmartDoctor utility which comes with the other software. 

Secondly, this card is equipped with the faster, 3.3ns, memory which allowed the developers to lift the memory frequency up to 285 (570) MHz. The chip's speed was set to 304 MHz (neither 300 nor 305 :). The MX440 can easily reach such level because the MX460 working at 300 MHz by default has the same chip as that of the MX440. But I think ASUSTeK tests all MX440-8x chips before they are mounted onto the cards and clocked at 304 MHz. 

Thirdly, the card has two DVI connectors and it comes with two respective d-Sub adapters. It makes possible to connect the card to two digital monitors, contrary to other similar models. 

So, today this is the fastest MX440-8x based solution with higher default frequencies. However, there is also Gainward's card of the Golden Sample series which in the Turbo mode runs at 300/300 (600) MHz; but this mode can be enabled only with the special ExperTool utility, while the ASUSTeK's can work at the increased frequencies with any drivers and isn't bound to the proprietary software. 

The other two cards don't have any interesting differences from the reference sample. 

Here are the coolers: 

ASUS V9180 VideoSuite 
For the sake of higher frequencies ASUS bundled the card with a big cooler which must be even a match for the RADEON 9700 Pro :-) (note that exactly the same cooler is mounted onto the RADEON 9700 Pro!). For operation at the rated frequency of 275 MHz NVIDIA suggests forgoing a cooler with a fan in favor of a simple heatsink. 

ABIT Siluro GF4 MX-8X 
This is the ABIT's proprietary cooler in the form of a truncated pyramid with a fan in the center. 

Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 MX440-8X 
InnoVision keeps to its traditions and mounts onto the mainstream card a cooler of an unsophisticated design, which is always stuck to the chip by assemblers in spite of the clips. 


Under the coolers we have the GeForce4 MX440-8x processor: 

All the cards except ABIT have the Philips 7114 codec providing VIVO: 

The ASUSteK and InnoVision support both Video-Out and Video-In, that is why they are supplied with special adapters/splitters and software for video capture. 

The ABIT's card doesn't have an external codec that is why TV-out is provided by the GeForce4 MX 440-8x. I must say that when the TV is connected to the card and the monitor is attached with the d-Sub, an image appears only on the TV screen. Only when we made some changes in the drivers and rebooted the Windows, the image was successfully returned to the monitor. I think it's on account of the imperfect internal TV-out chip. That is probably why external TV codecs are used more often. 

Now have a look at the accessory packs. 

ASUS V9180 VideoSuite 
User Guide, CD with drivers, ASUSDVD, 2 DVI-to-d-Sub adapters, VIVO adapter/splitter (a cable with a big unit) and a lot of software shown on the right. The Cyberlink (PowerDirector) is used for video capture. 

ABIT Siluro GF4 MX-8X 
User Guide, CD with drivers, WinDVD, CD with demo versions of games (see the photo), S-Video-to-RCA adapter, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter, S-Video extender. 

Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 MX440-8X 
User Guide, mouse pad, album with CDs (drivers, WinDVD, CyberLink PowerDirector (Video-In)), VIVO adapter/splitter, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter, S-Video extender, S-Video-to-RCA adapter. 


All the cards ship in the retail package. 

ASUS V9180 VideoSuite 
ASUS has started to ship its faster cards in special packages which are bigger and have holders inside. Well, it tells positively on their image. 

ABIT Siluro GF4 MX-8X 
ABIT changed a bag back for a usual box. Besides, some obscure patterns on the package do not help to attract users at all. 

Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 MX440-8X 
InnoVision doesn't change the course and keeps to traditional boxes of yellow and green colors which are peculiar to NVIDIA. 


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


ASUS V9180 VideoSuite  304/570 -> 370/690 MHz 
ABIT Siluro GF4 MX-8X  275/512 -> 332/630 MHz 
Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 MX440-8X  275/513 -> 330/638 MHz 

As expected: the faster the memory, the higher the overclocking potential. And it's now clear that ASUSTeK uses selected chips for such cards (the potential is markedly higher). 


  • 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. 

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.

For comparison we used the following cards: 

  • Leadtek WinFast A170T (GeForce4 MX 440, 270/200 (400) MHz, 64 MB); 
  • Hercules 3D Prophet 9000 Pro (RADEON 9000 Pro, 275/275 (550) MHz, 64 MB, driver 6.200). 

The ABIT and InnoVision cards are marked further as NVIDIA GeForce4 MX440 with AGP8x because they demonstrate the same performance. 

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 cards showed excellent quality at the following resolutions and frequencies:

  • ASUS V9180 VideoSuite: 1280x1024x120Hz, 1600x1200x75Hz; 
  • Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 MX440-8X: 1280x1024x100Hz, 1600x1200x75Hz - on the verge of the satisfactory level; 
  • ABIT Siluro GF4 MX-8X: 1280x1024x120Hz, 1600x1200x75Hz; 

For 3D performance estimation 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

  • Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v.1.05 (Croteam/GodGames) - OpenGL, multitexturing, Grand Cathedral demo, test settings: quality, S3TC OFF 

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

  • Comanche4 Benchmark Demo (NovaLogic) - Direct3D, Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, highest quality 

  • Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo (+Patch 1080) (Digital Extreme/Epic Games) - Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality, FlyBy ANTALUS test


Return to Castle Wolfenstein

The better-groomed OpenGL driver from NVIDIA helped the MX400-8x take over the RADEON 9000 Pro, but with the AA and anisotropy the lead was after the ATI's product. But the more efficient card ASUS V9180 is beyond any competition. 

Serious Sam: The Second Encounter

Unfortunately, in this test all MX4408x cards are losers. And even the increased frequencies didn't bring to ASUS the expected gain. 

Quake3 Arena

It's like a theory: if it's Quake3, the victory is after NVIDIA processors :-). Well, ATI must do something about its OpenGL driver which is likely optimized only for the Serious Sam. 

Comanche4 Benchmark Demo

If without the extra load the cards go on a par, with AA and anisotropy the RADEON 9000 Pro falls behind to some reason. One more victory of the MX440-8x! 

Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo

The competitors look equal without the extra load, and the MX440-8x lags a little behind in case of AA and anisotropy. 

On the whole, the MX440-8x and RADEON 9000 Pro have similar scores, but remember that the latter has full DirectX 8.1 support, unlike to the MX, and multilevel anisotropy (waning as it might seem for the rivals of ATI). On the other hand, the MX440-8x has faster AA which is stronger than the ATI's SmoothVision able to run more or less fast only at 2x. 

I think the price will be the determining factor. If the new MX440-8x cars (except the ASUS) are over $100, they won't be a success, especially because of the Ti 4200 priced at $130-140. Many RADEON 9000 Pro have already surmounted $100 and keep on reducing their prices. 

Now about quality and reliability of the drivers. Last time I mentioned that quality of the ATI's software was inferior and that the MX440 would be more popular than the R9000 in spite of the shaders and other advantages of the latter. But the latest version of the ATI's drivers 6.200 shows no problems for the RADEON 9000, and the MX440 got some in the AA and anisotropy mode. In particular, the Comanche4 demonstrated white snow instead of grass - palms in snow looks exotic :). That bug in the Comanche4 was noticeable both with the enabled and disabled shaders. The MX440-8x also have some petite problems in the UT2003 with enabled AA and anisotropy. 

Summary performance diagrams of the video cards on the latest driver versions, October 2002

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

In closing I must say that all the cards were operating stably and flawlessly (certainly, within the test suite that we traditionally use we can't guarantee operation of all cards in all games because of the physical constraints :-). 


Although the RADEON 9000 Pro keeps the MX440-8x cards from taking the top position in the mainstream sector, the ASUS V9180 VideoSuite proves to be a bright example of overbalance and victory. Although it will soon reach $100-105, you should think well whether it's worth chasing pixel shaders today or it's better to take a product similar to the RADEON 9000 Pro in performance and having VIVO and a rich software suite. 

The cards from ABIT and InnoVision are just good copies of the reference design. They are priced at $88-95 for the beginning of December. But with the price tags of $68-70 they can be excellent competitors against ATI. At the current prices the RADEON 9000 Pro remains the best choice ($89-90). 

In our 3Digest you can find complete comparison characteristics of video cards of this and other classes. 


  • Very good performance in 3D games (but the RADEON 9000 Pro is close on the heels with its similar price and better 3D features though in most cases it doesn't support VIVO); 
  • High build quality of the tested samples; 
  • Excellent overclocking potential of the ASUSTeK; 
  • Increased frequencies - and therefore the speed - of the ASUS V9180; 
  • VIVO of the ASUS and InnoVision cards; 
  • TV-out in all the cards. 


  • The card with the integrated TV-out shows an image only on TV when the computer is turned on. 

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com

Write a comment below. No registration needed!

Article navigation:

blog comments powered by Disqus

  Most Popular Reviews More    RSS  

AMD Phenom II X4 955, Phenom II X4 960T, Phenom II X6 1075T, and Intel Pentium G2120, Core i3-3220, Core i5-3330 Processors

Comparing old, cheap solutions from AMD with new, budget offerings from Intel.
February 1, 2013 · Processor Roundups

Inno3D GeForce GTX 670 iChill, Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti Graphics Cards

A couple of mid-range adapters with original cooling systems.
January 30, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1

An external X-Fi solution in tests.
September 9, 2008 · Sound Cards

AMD FX-8350 Processor

The first worthwhile Piledriver CPU.
September 11, 2012 · Processors: AMD

Consumed Power, Energy Consumption: Ivy Bridge vs. Sandy Bridge

Trying out the new method.
September 18, 2012 · Processors: Intel
  Latest Reviews More    RSS  

i3DSpeed, September 2013

Retested all graphics cards with the new drivers.
Oct 18, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, August 2013

Added new benchmarks: BioShock Infinite and Metro: Last Light.
Sep 06, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, July 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 and AMD Radeon HD 7730.
Aug 05, 2013 · 3Digests

Gainward GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB Golden Sample Graphics Card

An excellent hybrid of GeForce GTX 650 Ti and GeForce GTX 660.
Jun 24, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

i3DSpeed, May 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770/780.
Jun 03, 2013 · 3Digests
  Latest News More    RSS  

Platform  ·  Video  ·  Multimedia  ·  Mobile  ·  Other  ||  About us & Privacy policy  ·  Twitter  ·  Facebook

Copyright © Byrds Research & Publishing, Ltd., 1997–2011. All rights reserved.