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ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200-8x OTES,
Albatron GeForce4 Ti 4280 Medusa
Joytech Apollo Bloody Monster II GeForce4 Ti4200-8x
Leadtek WinFast A280LE TDH MyVIVO
MSI Ti4200 8x
X-Micro Impact Ti4200 AGP8x Video Cards Review

December 20, 2002






Contents

  1. Peculiarities of the video cards
  2. Testbeds, test tools, 2D quality
  3. Performance comparison of the tested cards
  4. Information on performance of GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x video cards 
  5. Conclusion

On the Xmas eve everyone must be expecting wonders from NVIDIA, in particular, from its GeForce FX which will finally arrive and kick others away... But it isn't here yet. California casts lightnings and blasts thunder from time to time threatening to force everyone to its 3D knees, but the real state of affairs shows that ATI performs better than NVIDIA. 

What is there that the American coddled crown in 3D graphics can pin hopes to? Of course, they should stake on wide availability of the products released, and first of all, on the new-comers NV18 and NV28. Today we are dealing with several video cards based on the GeForce4 Ti 4200 with AGP8x (further called as Ti 4200-8x). 

But before we scrutinize the cards, here is a list of the reviews looking at various aspects of operation of these cards. 

One of the companies might sound unknown to you - it's a Taiwanese firm named X-Micro Technology which was founded in 1999 and produces exceptionally gaming solutions. I hope its future products will be as good the card we have just examined. 

Cards

 


ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200-8X OTES 





Albatron GeForce4 Ti4280 Medusa 





Joytech Apollo Bloody Monster II GeForce4 Ti4200-8x 





Leadtek WinFast A280LE TDH MyVIVO 





MSI Ti4200 8x 





X-Micro Impact Ti4200 AGP8x 






 
 
 

All cards have AGP x8/x4 interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM located in 8 chips on both PCB sides. The memory chips are made by Samsung. 
ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200-8X OTES 
The access time of the memory chips is 3.6ns, which corresponds to 275 (550) MHz, and the memory does work at it. By the way, the GPU runs also at 275 MHz which is higher than the typical one of the Ti 4200. In fact, this is the Ti 4400 with AGP8x. 


Albatron GeForce4 Ti4280 Medusa 
The access time of the memory chips is 3.6ns, which corresponds to 275 (550) MHz, but the memory works at standard 256 (512) MHz. The GPU runs at 250MHz which is also standard for the Ti 4200. 


Joytech Apollo Bloody Monster II GeForce4 Ti4200-8x 
The access time of the memory chips is 4ns, which corresponds to 250 (500) MHz, but the memory works at a bit higher frequency of 256 (512) MHz. The GPU operates at standard 250 MHz. 


Leadtek WinFast A280LE TDH MyVIVO 
The access time of the memory chips is 4ns, which corresponds to 250 (500) MHz, but the memory works at a bit higher frequency of 256 (512) MHz. The GPU operates at standard 250 MHz. 


MSI Ti4200 8x 
The access time of the memory chips is 4ns, which corresponds to 250 (500) MHz, but the memory works at a bit higher frequency of 256 (512) MHz. The GPU operates at standard 250 MHz. 


X-Micro Impact Ti4200 AGP8x 
The access time of the memory chips is 4ns, which corresponds to 250 (500) MHz, but the memory works at a bit higher frequency of 256 (512) MHz. The GPU operates at standard 250 MHz.



 
Comparison with the reference design, front view 
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 



ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200-8X OTES 





Albatron GeForce4 Ti4280 Medusa 





Joytech Apollo Bloody Monster II GeForce4 Ti4200-8x 





Leadtek WinFast A280LE TDH MyVIVO 





MSI Ti4200 8x 





X-Micro Impact Ti4200 AGP8x 






 
Comparison with the reference design, back   view
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 



ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200-8X OTES 





Albatron GeForce4 Ti4280 Medusa 



Joytech Apollo Bloody Monster II GeForce4 Ti4200-8x 



Leadtek WinFast A280LE TDH MyVIVO 





MSI Ti4200 8x 





X-Micro Impact Ti4200 AGP8x 




 

Now let's move onto the design of the cards. 
   


ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200-8X OTES 
This one looks very extraordinary. Sometime ago we described a similar card on the GeForce4 Ti 4200

First of all, it has a d-Sub on the daughter card instead of the main PCB, as well as a TV-out. 

The daughter card connects to the main card with long pins. However, such a connection method doesn't tell upon 2D quality, at least in case of the ABIT's solution. 

The photo clearly shows that the main PCB has only a DVI connector and a copper heatsink of a massive cooler where a d-Sub was mounted before. Let me remind you how this cooler works. When the base heats up, warm goes from the chip to the copper pipe soldered to the heatsink base. The pipe contains low-boiling liquid which evaporates and delivers warm to the copper plates located in the end of the cooler. The turbine drives air through these plates providing the respective cooling effect. 

Certainly, this board is far from the reference design. Although main components are located at their due places, like the memory and the chip, there are still a myriad of differences. 

On the right you can see how I assembled the card after I made its photo. 































Albatron GeForce4 Ti4280 Medusa 
This card is an exact copy of the reference sample, including the cooler which complies with the NVIDIA's recommendations (such coolers could be seen a lot of times on GeForce4 Ti cards). 





Joytech Apollo Bloody Monster II GeForce4 Ti4200-8x 
This is also a reference-based solution. The cooler looks catchy but its cooling effect is moderate. 





Leadtek WinFast A280LE TDH MyVIVO 
Leadtek remains faithful to its traditions of making "armored" cards. We have a big cooler covering the core and the memory. On the back side there is an additional heatsink plate for the same purpose. Such approach is of little use because when a massive heatsink is not pressed against some chip, the latter will heat up even more. This may affect the overclocking potential and even worsen operation at the rated clock speed. 

The card differs markedly from the reference sample - it houses a temperature sensor of the chip's surface and a thermo control chip. The LEDs placed above indicate power supply and AGP mode. Also, there are two VIVO connectors instead of just one (for Video-In and Video-Out separately). 













MSI Ti4200 8x 
MSI has developed a unique products as well. First of all, the card supports hardware monitoring, and there is a thermo control chip (on the photo below), a temperature sensor next to the chip (detects the heatsink's temperature), and a tachometer of the fan. 

The device is of the turbine type when air gets in at one side and out through a pipe at the other side. 

Unfortunately, MSI followed Leadtek and covered the card with the heatsinks (the big heatsink cools down both the chip and memory, and on the back there is one more heatsink in the form of a plate). The only strong point is that all metallic parts are copper. 
















X-Micro Impact Ti4200 AGP8x 
The card from X-Micro is based entirely on the reference design and comes completed with a conventional cooler, i.e. a roundish device with vertical fins (Gainward's favorite one :-). Such a cooler is one of the best in performance in spite of missing mod features. 




The 5 cards (except the ABIT) are coupled with the Philips 7108 codec controlling the VIVO: 




The ABIT comes with the Philips 7104 which is in charge of only a TV-out: 




And all of them have the GeForce4 ti 4200-8x GPU: 




Here are the accessory packs: 


ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200-8X OTES 
The box contains: User Guide, CD with drivers and utilities (including WinDVD), adapters and extenders for TV-out (a catchy semitransparent design), DVI-to-d-Sub adapter and several CDs with software (on the photo you can see the contents). 





Albatron GeForce4 Ti4280 Medusa 
The box contains: User Guide, CD with drivers and utilities, Cyberlink PowerDVD and PowerDirector (for VIVO), Serious Sam, VIVO adapter/splitter, S-Video-to-RCA adapter. 


Joytech Apollo Bloody Monster II GeForce4 Ti4200-8x 
The box contains: User Guide, CD with drivers and utilities, WinDVD, AquaNox, MDK2, WinCoder/WinProducer (VIVO), VIVO adapter/splitter, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter. 


Leadtek WinFast A280LE TDH MyVIVO 
The box contains: User Guide, CD with drivers and utilities, other software shown on the photo on the right, VIVO adapter/splitter, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter. 





MSI Ti4200 8x 
The box contains: User Guide, CD with drivers and utilities, a rich software suite shown on the photo on the right, VIVO adapter/splitter, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter. 





X-Micro Impact Ti4200 AGP8x 
The box contains: User Guide, CD with drivers and utilities, CyberLink PowerDirector (VIVO), 2 full games, VIVO adapter/splitter, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter and a metallic stylish sticker for PC case. 



 
    All cards ship in the retail packages. 


ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200-8X OTES 
This is a typical ABIT's package. The only alteration is a small hole on the back through which you can see that cooler with all its whistles and bells on the OTES card. 





Albatron GeForce4 Ti4280 Medusa 
This glittering package from Albatron displays Medusa looking like a pretty nice girl (not a terrible witch as we used to think). 


Joytech Apollo Bloody Monster II GeForce4 Ti4200-8x 
This is the biggest package for today, a la Joytech. Unfortunately, this box is not only for this card, it's developed for the whole family, according to what is written on its side. 





Leadtek WinFast A280LE TDH MyVIVO 
The box is traditional of Leadtek, and the developers gave it a very thorough thought. All information you need is written on the package, and you don't have to look for it on the stickers. 


MSI Ti4200 8x 
It's a little bit gloomy, but not deprived of its own style. Its strong point is that the description is given on the package, including the software. 


X-Micro Impact Ti4200 AGP8x 
This small box is probably used for the whole GeForce4 Ti line, with stickers defining a card in the line (the stickers are quite big though). Modest but stylish. 



That's all about the peculiarities of the cards. 

Overclocking

ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200-8X OTES  275/550 -> 300/590 MHz, a very weak result for the memory, and the chip is not shining at all, in spite of OTES. 
Albatron GeForce4 Ti4280 Medusa  250/513 -> 320/650 MHz, superlative overclocking overtaking the Ti4600. 
Joytech Apollo Bloody Monster II GeForce4 Ti4200-8x  250/513 -> 300/630 MHz, quite moderate results. 
Leadtek WinFast A280LE TDH MyVIVO  250/513 -> 310/650 MHz, quite good results for the chip and excellent for the memory. 
MSI Ti4200 8x  250/513 -> 295/630 MHz, weak chip overclocking but better memory one. 
X-Micro Impact Ti4200 AGP8x  250/513 -> 305/630 MHz, average chip overclocking results and quite good scores of the memory. 


  Note that: 

  • 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

Testbeds: 

  • Pentium 4 2530 MHz based computer: 
    • 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 computer: 
    • 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 v41.09. VSync was off, S3TC was off in the applications. 

What interesting programs of the manufacturers are shipped together with the cards? X-Micro and Joytech haven't included any of their programs, as well as ABIT (its GraphicMax utility doesn't work yet with the Ti 4200-8x); the Albatron's card comes with a disc on which they mention an overclocking utility, but actually: 




this is just a patch for the registry which in the NVIDIA's drivers enables a tab with frequencies (CoolBits=3). 

Here is what MSI offers: tabs in the drivers over the NVIDIA's ones: an information panel and overclocker: 




And a universal 3D Turbo Experience utility for hardware monitoring and overclocking: 




In case of an error a window will come up over all the rest: 




Leadtek provides the most attractive suite! Drivers' settings, 




menu: 




WinFox utility: 






hardware monitoring: 




and its own video capture program (beside the Ulead packet): 



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 Ti4200-8X OTES  1600x1200x85Hz(!), 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz 
Albatron GeForce4 Ti4280 Medusa  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz 
Joytech Apollo Bloody Monster II GeForce4 Ti4200-8x  1600x1200x75Hz, 1280x1024x100Hz, 1024x768x120Hz 
Leadtek WinFast A280LE TDH MyVIVO  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz 
MSI Ti4200 8x  1600x1200x75Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz 
X-Micro Impact Ti4200 AGP8x  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x160Hz 

Test results: comparison of the cards' performance

I keep on receiving a lot of letters where you really think that cards based on the reference design and clocked at the same frequencies can differ in speed as they are from different companies. That is why before the summary diagrams from our 3Digest let me show you two diagrams of the tests of 6 cards in the Quake3 and UT2003 DEMO (the settings can be found below), 3Digest). 




Five cards (except the ABIT's model) have almost the same performance level; the ABIT is a bit more efficient, courtesy of its higher frequencies. 

Test results: information from 3Digest

For the 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 

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

  •  
  • Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo v.927 (Digital Extreme/Epic Games) - Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality 

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

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

  •  
  • RightMark Video Analyzer v.0.4 (Philip Gerasimov) - DirectX 8.1, Dot3, cube texturing, shadow buffers, vertex and pixel shaders (1.1, 1.4). 

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

The overclocked cards are marked with red color, the sign o/c (overclocked) is followed by the frequencies reached. 
For the summary diagrams we used drivers v.41.03 for the NVIDIA cards, v.6.200 for the ATI cards (v.6.228 was used for the Radeon 9700), v.3.07.55 for the SIS cards and v.1.02.042 for the Matrox cards. 

To sum up, all the cards showed a stable and reliable operation (each worked 24 hours) and good build quality. 

Conclusion

  1. ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200-8X OTES - superb scores thanks to the increased frequency (the first place among these cards), excellent 2D quality though the d-Sub is located on the daughter card. Weak points are noise of air bursting out of the the pipe behind, no VIVO; 
  2. Albatron GeForce4 Ti 4280 Medusa - a typical reference based card; pros: VIVO and nearly the lowest price for today. 
  3. Joytech Apollo Bloody Monster II GeForce4 Ti4200-8x - also a copy of the reference sample, VIVO is provided but there is no S-Video-to-RCA adapter, that is why owners of equipment with composite output and input can't use it; 
  4. Leadtek WinFast A280LE TDH MyVIVO - an impeccable solution from Leadtek regarding VIVO, hardware monitoring and a software suite; cons: overpriced; 
  5. MSI Ti4200 8x - this interesting new-comer based on its own design has hardware monitoring, VIVO and an excellent software bundle; 
  6. X-Micro Impact Ti4200 AGP8x - this is a conventional reference based card of top quality; it has VIVO and a relatively low price. Disadvantages: X-Micro is little-known and it will be a problem to enter such a crowded market without bonuses or some gems. 

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

Highs:

  • Very good performance in 3D games (in the overclocking mode up to Ti 4600 and higher!); 
  • Nice build quality of all the cards; 
  • Increased frequencies of the cards ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200-8X OTES (equal to the speeds of Ti 4400); 
  • TV-out on all cards, and Video-In on five (except ABIT); 
  • All necessary adapters (but for Joytech and X-Micro); 

Lows:

  • Noisy cooling system of the ABIT Siluro GF4 Ti4200-8X OTES. 


 
 
 
 
 

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)
 

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