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ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200 OTES,
ASUS V8420S Video Cards Review

October 23, 2002






Contents

  1. Peculiarities of the ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200 OTES and ASUS V8420S video cards 
  2. Testbeds, test tools, 2D quality 
  3. Information on performance of video cards of the GeForce4 Ti 4200 class 
  4. Conclusion

It's still far from the launch of so long-awaited and revolutionary NVIDIA's NV30, that is why card makers who use processors from this Californian company have to look for other ways of increasing the demand for their products based on the NV25 chips, including both expensive GeForce4 Ti 4600 based solutions and widely popular Ti 4200 ones. As you know, the intermediate version of Ti 4400 left the stage, and production of such cards and chips was ceased. 

The Ti4200 based solutions poured onto the store shelves in large quantities, and only very small or faithful to ATI firms didn't bring into production. In such conditions even brand-name companies are in desperate straits because of the hard competition, as there are lot of companies that offer almost copies of the reference cards at much smaller prices. And one of the ways to attract attentions of customers is to use something unusual. The first thing that the manufacturers did was usage of the faster memory. Many card makers liked the 3.3ns memory which is currently used at higher frequencies. We have already examined several such cards. 

You can get thorough information on the Ti 4200 (as well as on the whole GeForce4 Ti line) from our reviews devoted to the GeForce4 Ti cards. 

  Theoretical and analytical videocard reviews, containing functional analysis of NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti GPU: NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti

One of the ways to draw attention to the improved cards on the GeForce4 Ti 4200 is usage of the PCB from Ti 4600. We have already studied such cards from S/U/M/A/ and Albatron, as well as from ASUSTeK. Today we will take a look at one more such solution. 

The developers from ABIT have erected a really unique construction... 

Cards

ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200 OTES 






ASUS V8420S 128MB 







 
ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200 OTES 

The card has AGP x2/x4 interface, 64 MB DDR SDRAM located in 8 chips on both PCB sides. 

The card comes with Hynix memory of 3.6ns access time which corresponds to 275 (550) MHz. The GPU works at 275 MHz which is also an increased frequency of the Ti 4200. This is in fact a 64MB version of the Ti 4400. 




ASUS V8420S 128MB 

The card has AGP x2/x4 interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM located in 8 chips on both PCB sides. 

The card comes with Samsung memory of 3.3ns access time which corresponds to 300 (600) MHz, but the memory is working at 275 (550) MHz. The GPU runs at 260 MHz. A similar card was described already in the review of the GeForce4 Ti Deluxe line of ASUS. But at that time it was a redesigned PCB, but now... see below. 





 
Comparison with the reference design, front view 
ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200 OTES  Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 






ASUS V8420S 128MB 



Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600 




 
Comparison with the reference design, back view
ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200 OTES  Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 






ASUS V8420S 128MB 



Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600 



 

The ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200 OTES has a very intriguing design, though the PCS is virtually built on the reference one. Only the VGA's place is taken by a tubular radiator. 

This card takes place in the main unit dedicated for two slots. The card has a bracket twice wider than a usual one: 




The d-Sub and TV-out are laid out on the daughter card, and the connectors are taken to the "second" bracket: 



The daughter card is connected to the main board with such long pins: 



I must say that 2D quality is not affected by such construction, if you have a good cable and a high-quality monitor. 

Let's take off this bulky cooler 




and have a more careful look at it. And remove the chip as well: 



The base of the copper heatsink is well polished: 



The principle of operation of such complicated device is quite simple: the chip heats up the heatsink base which is soldered to a tube with certain liquid: 



When heated, the liquid evaporates, and its vapor carries heat to the tubular radiator on the fan's left. This fan is cooled down with a strong air flow created with a turbine-like fan with the liquid condensing in the tube, and the process starts anew. 

Thus, the cooling system is located not above the chip but aside. An air flow carries out the heat outside the system unit which is then exhausted through a hole in the lower part of the bracket. Hence the name of OTES: Outside Thermal Exhaust System. 

Such a complicated construction needs good fastening: 






Well, it is attached with 4 bolts and some kind of a hook on the back. The heatsink base is firmly pressed to the chip and the heatsink is fixed in a definite position. 

I decided to try such a cooling method and measured the chip's temperature with an external thermo sensor which is traditionally delivered with certain boards: 




The ASUS's board is based on the PCB from Ti 4600 and differs from earlier released solutions from ASUS in its yellow color. Such boards are based on the 8-layer design which makes them very stable at high frequencies. 

And now we are turning to the cooling devices: 
 

ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200 OTES 
As I explained above, the turbine-like fan creates a strong air flow which passes through the tubular heatsink. The flow is created by a high-speed fan rotating at 7200 rpm. The noise level of such system resembles that of the ThermalTake Volcano 6Cu+. This is an unpleasant side of this device though the developers claimed reduced noiseness. 





ASUS V8420S 128MB 
Such a device could be seen a lot of times before. Besides, the ASUS V8420 Deluxe card had the same design of the cooler. This has both an attractive exterior and a high performance level due to a large cooling area. 


 
Both cards possess a TV-out which is based on the Philips 7104 on the ABIT's card and on the Conexant on the ASUS's card. 

Here is the stuff coming with the cards: 
 

ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200 OTES 
Here we can find a user manual, a CD with drivers and utilities (including WinDVD), adapters and extenders for TV-out (an effective semitransparent design), DVI-to-d-Sub adapter. 


ASUS V8420S 128MB 
2(!) user manuals, CD with drivers and utilities, ASUS DVD, 3 complete games and 6 demo versions, S-Video-to-RCA adapter, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter. 


 
The video cards ship in retail packages.
ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200 OTES 
Such a luxurious card is put in such a poor box! It seems that the designers have spent all their efforts on developing the card. 


ASUS V8420S 128MB 
ASUS's typical box with a yellow stripe. Note that it informs about 25% increase in frequency, though  275 (550) MHz for memory and 260 MHz for chip differ from 250 MHz certainly not by 25% :-). By the way, 550 is written in really large figures. 


 

That's all about peculiarities of the cards.

Overclocking

ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200 OTES  275/550 -> 320/626 MHz, a very good overclocking potential for the Ti 4200. OTES works! :-) 
ASUS V8420S 128MB  260/550 -> 310/685 MHz, not bad for the chip, but seems to be quite weak for the memory. The 3.3ns chips could easily work at 700 MHz and higher. 

Note: 

Test system and drivers

Testbeds: 

The test system was coupled with ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors.

In the tests we used NVIDIA's drivers of v40.41. VSync was off, S3TC was off in the applications. 

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: 
ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200 OTES  1600x1200x75Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x160Hz 
ASUS V8420S 128MB  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x160Hz 
  To tests the temperature mode of the ABIT's card I closed the side panel of the computer case closely with all brackets sitting in their niches on the rear panel. Warm air could be carried out only though the power supply unit and through the tube of the ABIT's card. We thus emulated the conditions most users work in. The temperature was measured on the chip one hour later after the 3DMark2001 was started in the cycle mode. It was only 50 degrees, which is a very good outcome taking into account that the Ti 4200 works at 275 instead of 250 MHz. After that we installed a standard cooler (like that used on the ASUS V8420S). One hour later the temperature jumped up to 69 degrees. 

The OTES is very efficient, but its noise level might outweigh its advantages. 

Test results: information from the 3Digest

Such cards were tested infinite number of times and their scores and diagrams can be found in our 3Digest. Note that the ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200 OTES was as fast as the GeForce4 Ti 4400 though the ABIT had 64MB instead of 128. 

For the performance estimation we used: 

4. Summary diagrams of performance of the video cards on the latest drivers for September 2002

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

Both cards showed a stable and reliable operation in 3D, no hang-ups were noticed. 

Conclusion

  1. The ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200 OTES is a very interesting solution but it has both strong and weak points. Unfortunately, it's impossible to get rid of the noise, there are no ways to reduce the fan's speed (though it would hardly help as noise is born by an air flow in the tubular radiator). But if such noise is not critical for you, compared to efficiency of a video card and of a main unit (for example, if your computer case is very little and tight) which is located far under the desk, the card will be a good choice. The price doesn't exceed $200 (for the second half of October). 
  2. The ASUS's card can't be considered new as we already saw a similar solution. However, apart from the advanced Ti 4200 based Deluxe version the company release an ordinary card as well (with the suffix S). Recently we had a chance to see an identical card from Albatron which had only a bit slower core. At the same time, the card from ASUS is dearer by just $10-15 compared to the Albatron's one ($200-205 for the second half of October). 
In our 3Digest you can find complete comparison characteristics of video cards of this and other classes. 

Highs:

Lows:
 
 
 
 
Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com
 

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