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Albatron Medusa GeForce4 Ti 4680 Turbo,

Chaintech A-GX21 GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x SE

Gainward GeForce4 Powerpack Ultra/650-8X XP Golden Sample

Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x

Prolink PixelView GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x

Sparkle GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x

based on NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 with AGP8x

January 31, 2003






Contents

  1. Peculiarities of the video cards
  2. Testbeds, test tools, 2D quality
  3. Summary information on performance of GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x video cards
  4. Conclusion

No sooner did the year of 2003 start than January flied away. However, the political situation involving two our grands, NVIDIA and ATI, doesn't change so quickly. NVIDIA hasn't released its new products yet, that is why it is now pulled to pieces and gossiped very much about; some even mention the "cruel fate of 3dfx" that has neared the Californian company the other day. You think ATI took the occasion and attacked the market with its RADEON 9500-9700? Nothing of the kind! When a rival is weak, ATI always catches political cold! 

So, while one of the companies can't be delivered of, though it was sent to the maternity hospital by its President that promised the GeForce FX yet by the Xmas sales, the other is still not able to supply the RADEON 9500 in bulk (moreover this product is still a bit too pricey). 

Well, the manufacturers have no choice but to keep on producing Ti 4200 and add all possible bells and whistles. The testers have no choice but to test such solutions. Although the chip is quite old, the cards are new on the market, and we are to show them to you to make simpler the choice among innumerable video cards on the Ti 4200 (with AGP 8x at that). 

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

Today we have probably the last summary review of the video cards based on the GeForce4 Ti 4200. Certainly, it deals with the new version - Ti 4200-8x. In our lab we tested 6 cards from well-known companies. 

Cards

 

Albatron Medusa GeForce4 Ti 4680 Turbo 






Chaintech A-GX21 GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x SE 






Gainward GeForce4 Powerpack Ultra/650-8X XP Golden Sample 






Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 






Prolink PixelView GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 






Sparkle GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 







 
 
 
All cards have AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM (except the Prolink's card carrying 64 MB) located in 8 chips on both PCB sides. 
Albatron Medusa GeForce4 Ti 4680 Turbo 
The memory chips are made by Samsung, in BGA package. The access time is 3.3ns, which corresponds to 300 (600) MHz, but the memory works at 275(550) MHz. The GPU runs at 250 MHz which is typical of the Ti 4200. We tested an identical card (but without AGP 8x) earlier (Albatron GeForce4 Ti 4200P Turbo). 


Chaintech A-GX21 GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x SE 
The memory chips are made by Samsung. The access time is 4ns, which corresponds to 250 (500) MHz, but the memory works at 256 (512) MHz. The GPU runs at 250 MHz. 


Gainward GeForce4 Powerpack Ultra/650-8X XP Golden Sample 
The memory chips are made by Samsung. The access time is 3.6ns, which corresponds to 275 (550) MHz but the memory works at 256 (512) MHz. The GPU runs at 250 MHz. As you know, the Golden Sample series has the Extremal mode as well where the frequencies are higher - 270/270 (540) MHz. 


Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
The memory chips are made by Samsung. The access time is 4ns, which corresponds to 250 (500) MHz, but the memory works at 256 (512) MHz. The GPU runs at 250 MHz. 


Prolink PixelView GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
The memory chips are made by EtronTech. The access time is 3.3ns, which corresponds to 300 (600) MHz, but the memory works at 285 (570) MHz. The GPU runs at 250 MHz. Note that this card is equipped with 64 MB instead of 128 MB. 


Sparkle GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
The memory chips are made by Samsung. The access time is 3.6ns, which corresponds to 275 (550) MHz but the memory works at 256 (512) MHz. The GPU runs at 250 MHz. 



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



Albatron Medusa GeForce4 Ti 4680 Turbo 






Chaintech A-GX21 GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x SE 






Gainward GeForce4 Powerpack Ultra/650-8X XP Golden Sample 






Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 






Prolink PixelView GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 






Sparkle GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 







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



Albatron Medusa GeForce4 Ti 4680 Turbo 






Chaintech A-GX21 GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x SE 






Gainward GeForce4 Powerpack Ultra/650-8X XP Golden Sample 






Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 



Prolink PixelView GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 






Sparkle GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 




 

All cards except the Albatron are based on the standard NV28 design. The Albatron Medusa GeForce4 Ti 4680 Turbo, like the Ti 4200P Turbo, is built on the altered design of Ti 4600 with higher memory frequencies. Remember that the card has the marketing name; the graphics processor is Ti 4200, not Ti 4600 with AGP8x. I don't value such attitude toward inexperienced users when the first thing that arrests attention is "Ti 4680", while the font of "Ti 4200" is much smaller. Besides, everybody knows that AGP 8x on such cards is of no help at all, at least in today's games. 

Now let's turn to the GPUs. 
 


Albatron Medusa GeForce4 Ti 4680 Turbo 
The marking of the processor is not standard, though we are already used to it. It's not indicated that this is exactly 4200. The chip is produced at the 46th week of 2002 (i.e. at the end of the year). 


Chaintech A-GX21 GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x SE 
This is a standard marking. The chip is produced at the 40th week of 2002 (i.e. in the middle of autumn). 


Gainward GeForce4 Powerpack Ultra/650-8X XP Golden Sample 
And here we have the 41st week of 2002. 


Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
The marking differs again, though it's written below that this is 4200. The chip is produced at the 46th week of 2002. 


Prolink PixelView GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
The conventional marking and 39th week. 


Sparkle GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
The "new" marking and 40th week. 



 

It's ironic that all 6 cards received from different sources have processors made at the almost same time :-). And it's clear that in the middle of autumn after the 40th week NVIDIA decided to change the marketing to an unknown reason. 

Now let's look at what is traditionally considered a piece of art on graphics cards, i.e. coolers. 
 


Albatron Medusa GeForce4 Ti 4680 Turbo 
This is a very beautiful and efficient cooler on a copper base. 





Chaintech A-GX21 GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x SE 
The distinguishing feature of the SE (Special Edition) series is exactly a cooler. It consists of a very effective catchy closed heatsink with the fan shifted off the center (almost a copy of the reference model), plus heatsinks of the same style for memory modules. On the back there are also heatsinks for the memory, though they are smaller. 





Gainward GeForce4 Powerpack Ultra/650-8X XP Golden Sample 
Earlier the coolers of such design were used by Gainward only on Ti 4400/4600 cards while Ti 4200 based models were equipped with usual roundish coolers with fans in the center. Now such effective cooler can be seen on the Ti 4200 as well. 





Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
This is a copy of the reference cooler, though in the colors of Inno3D (by the way, it looks nice together with PCB's color, plus the distinguishing style of InnoVision). 





Prolink PixelView GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
The fame of Leadtek which dresses its cards into armor provoked Prolink to make a single cooler for chip and memory on the front side of the card. The advantage is that the heatsink is attached to the memory with thermo stickers instead of clips which do not provide proper contact. On the back the chips are cooled with small separate heatsinks. It's also a strong point because it allows the heatsinks to be pressed tightly to the chips. 





Sparkle GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
This is a usual reference cooler. Sparkle considered it unnecessary to deviate from the reference design even here. 






 

All 6 cards come with external processors for TV-out (Video-In). 
 
 
 


Albatron Medusa GeForce4 Ti 4680 Turbo, Prolink PixelView GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
Philips 7104 works only with TV-out, that is why the card doesn't have VIVO. Unfortunately, the TV-out quality of such processors from Philips is inferior to Conexant. I wish the developers from Albatron installed the Conexant's codec considering that the PCB's design allows it. 


Chaintech A-GX21 GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x SE, Gainward GeForce4 Powerpack Ultra/650-8X XP Golden Sample, Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x, Sparkle GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
Philips 7108 supports VIVO. 



 

As you can see, 4 cards support VIVO, and the other 2 only TV-out. The Prolink's card doesn't have a "second head", i.e. it's deprived of the DVI connector. But if you don't need a card for two monitors, you can buy this solution at a relatively low price. 

Now the accessory packs: 
 

Albatron Medusa GeForce4 Ti 4680 Turbo 
The box contains: User Guide, CD with drivers and utilities, S-Video-to-RCA adapter, TV-out extenders, and 2 CDs with old games. 


Chaintech A-GX21 GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x SE 
The box contains: User Guide, CD with drivers and utilities, Cyberlink PowerDVD and PowerDirector (for VIVO), AquaNox, MDK2, VIVO adapter/splitter, S-Video-to-RCA, adapter, TV-out extenders, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter. 


Gainward GeForce4 Powerpack Ultra/650-8X XP Golden Sample 
The box contains: User Guide, CD with drivers and utilities, WinDVD, WinCoder/WinProducer (VIVO), VIVO adapter/splitter, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter, sticker. 


Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
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, mouse pad. 





Prolink PixelView GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
The box contains: User Guide, CD with drivers and utilities, Venom, Ballistics games, WinDVD, S-video-to-RCA adapter, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter. 


Sparkle GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
The box contains: User Guide, CD with drivers and utilities, CyberLink PowerDirector (VIVO), VIVO adapter/splitter, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter. 



 

All the cards ship in retail packages. 

Albatron Medusa GeForce4 Ti 4680 Turbo 
A traditional mirror-like shining box from Albatron picturing the Medusa looking like a pretty girl. Remember once again that the card's name is a marketing trick, - Ti 4680 doesn't exist. 


Chaintech A-GX21 GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x SE 
A very stylish package for the whole Special Edition series of Chaintech! Through the cutout you can see the card. 


Gainward GeForce4 Powerpack Ultra/650-8X XP Golden Sample 
This Gainward's package is becoming boring as the design remains the same for several years already. Why don't they think of something more effective for the Golden Sample than just a sticker... 


Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
This is a standard package of InnoVision the developers do not want to part with, though it's high time they invent something new. 


Prolink PixelView GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
This is a showy combination of the standard design, an interesting picture and a striking font of the writings. 


Sparkle GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 
The designers from Sparkle managed to find a cheap and effective solution. The design is unsophisticated but the holographic patterns shine and attract attention! 



 

That's all about the peculiarities of the cards. 

Overclocking


 
Albatron Medusa GeForce4 Ti 4680 Turbo  250/550 -> 320/710 MHz, excellent overclocking! 
Chaintech A-GX21 GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x SE  250/513 -> 320/640 MHz, quite good! 
Gainward GeForce4 Powerpack Ultra/650-8X XP Golden Sample  270/540 -> 325/655 MHz, excellent result, Ti 4600 is almost dead for overclockers :-) 
Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x  250/513 -> 310/650 MHz, not bad results of the chip and superb scores of the memory. 
Prolink PixelView GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x  250/570 -> 310/660 MHz, not bad results of the chip and superb scores of the memory.. 
Sparkle GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x  250/513 -> 320/650 MHz, good overclocking as well! 

 


 

Note that: 

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 v41.09. VSync was off, S3TC was off in the applications. 

Unfortunately, the developers supply nothing interesting with the cards except the Gainward's utility ExperTool: 




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: 

Albatron Medusa GeForce4 Ti 4680 Turbo  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x160Hz 
Chaintech A-GX21 GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x SE  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz 
Gainward GeForce4 Powerpack Ultra/650-8X XP Golden Sample  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x100Hz, 1024x768x160Hz 
Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x  1600x1200x75Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz 
Prolink PixelView GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x  1600x1200x75Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x160Hz 
Sparkle GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x160Hz 

 
 
 

Test results: data from 3Digest

For the performance estimation we used: 

Summary diagrams of performance of the video cards on the latest drivers for December 2002

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

For the summary diagrams we used drivers v.41.09 for the NVIDIA cards, v.6.218 for the ATI cards, v.3.07 for the SIS cards and v.1.01.02.090 for the Matrox cards. 

In closing I must say that all the cards performed stably (each worked 24 hours) and have good build quality. 

Conclusion

  1. Albatron Medusa GeForce4 Ti 4680 Turbo is a good example of combination of perfect quality, high speed and a relatively low price. But they trick users by using the name of Ti 4680; besides, the card has no VIVO or TV-out via Conexant; 
  2. Chaintech A-GX21 GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x SE: the frequencies are standard, but the accessories and appearance are very attractive, and the price is not too high, plus VIVO; 
  3. Gainward GeForce4 Powerpack Ultra/650-8X XP Golden Sample - this is a high-society card. The golden bar showed very good results, in contrast to the old package; 
  4. Inno3D Tornado GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x is an ordinary card working at ordinary frequencies, if the price is attractive the card will be in demand (provided that the quality doesn't worsen with time); the VIVO makes it more interesting; 
  5. Prolink PixelView GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x is the cheapest card on the Ti 4200-8x because it has only 64 MB memory onboard and only one d-Sub connector. No VIVO, only TV-out; 
  6. Sparkle GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x is also one of the cheapest cards in its class, but it sports VIVO and, with its 3.6ns memory, it is a good find for overclockers. 

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

Highs:

Lows:

 
 
 

Andrew Worobiew (anvakams@ixbt.com
 

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