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NVIDIA's Quick Anisotropy, Soltek GeForce4 Ti 4600 Video Card Review

September 2, 2002


  1. Peculiarities of the Soltek NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600 video card 
  2. Test system configuration, test tools, 2D quality 
  3. New capabilities of anisotropic filtering in 30.* drivers from NVIDIA 
  4. Performance of video cards of the GeForce4 Ti 4600 class 
  5. Conclusion

The summer's gone! And it took away with it 1.5 months since the announce of the ATI RADEON 9700 which is a current leader in 3D graphics. Although ATI promised to start deliveries a month later, these cards are becoming available for users only now. I think the mass supplies will take place only in the middle of September. 

And what about the former leader GeForce4 Ti 4600? Although it was forced off from the throne, its price doesn't fall down. Besides, the manufacturers try to attract attention to the Ti 4200 by producing it on the Ti 4600's PCB and with faster memory. For overclockers it means a moral death of the Ti 4600 as one will hardly pay $310-330 for a card which can be made out of the improved Ti 4200 available at the lower price. 

But as the overclockers make just 5% of the overall number of users, the popularity of the Ti 4600 can't be shaken (if it's possible to say that $300 cards are popular). The release of the RADEON 9700 will favor the price cuts, but at present despite relatively low release prices of the manufacturers the market doesn't hurry to bring down the prices for expensive components. 

Apart from multiple GeForce4 Ti 4600 based cards from the grands available at unreasonable prices the market offers solutions from less-known companies at much smaller prices. But let's make a break and look through a list of reviews of the GeForce4 Ti cards already published on our site. 

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

  It should be noted that some inexpensive cards, for example from Sparkle, has not worse quality as compared with the market's giants, and they are in quite good demand. Well, Soltek joined this group. Let's look at it closer. 


Soltek GeForce4 Ti 4600 

Soltek GeForce4 Ti 4600 
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 2.8ns access time which corresponds to 357 (714) MHz; the memory works at 325 (650) MHz. The GPU runs at 300 MHz which is typical of the Ti 4600. 

Comparison with the reference design, front view 
Soltek GeForce4 Ti 4600  Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600 

Comparison with the reference design, back view
Soltek GeForce4 Ti 4600  Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600 

This model is a pure copy of the reference card. Its quality is visually very high. 

As you know, all cards that follow the reference design differ only in a cooling device, VIVO and an accessory pack.

Soltek GeForce4 Ti 4600 
Once we saw such a two-fan system on a card from Leadtek, but that design was more massive. Soltek made the cooler smaller; and now it doesn't cool down memory as it doesn't have a heatsink on its back. When we took off the heatsink we saw that it worked only for the GPU and just two chips (probably the thermo stickers play also a good fixing role :-) ). 

The cooler hides the GeForce4 Ti 4600 GPU: 

The card comes with the Philips 7108 chip, i.e. the VIVO (Video-In Video-Out) is supported. Soon we will study functional properties of the Video In of the Philips 7108 chip which has become very popular as all card starting from the NVIDIA GeForce2 MX use it. 

Now let's pop into the box: 

Soltek GeForce4 Ti 4600 
Here we can find a user manual, a CD with drivers and utilities, CyberLink Power Director (for VIVO), PowerDVD XP, Serious Sam game, DVI-to-VGA adapter, an adapter/splitter for VIVO. 

The video card ships in retail packages.

Soltek GeForce4 Ti 4600 
This luxurious package will certainly attract attention. Its the first time when a relief image is used on a bright colorful box. But inside, the box doesn't look so elaborated, the stuff can easily fall out of it onto your feet. 

That's all about peculiarities of the card. 


Soltek GeForce4 Ti 4600  300/650 -> 326/715 MHz, good overclocking potential (but it's not a new record). 


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 v30.82. VSync was off, S3TC was off. When the review was finished the comapny released a new version of the drivers 40.41. Its operation will be examined in one of the following reviews. 

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: 
Soltek GeForce4 Ti 4600  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x100Hz, 1024x768x120Hz 

For the performance estimation we used: 

New capabilities of anisotropic filtering in 30.* drivers from NVIDIA

As we mentioned in the GeForce4 Ti 4200 review (Part 3) this function in the GeForce4 Ti family takes a great deal of resources - the performance falls down by 50-55% when the Level 8 is enabled. Although NVIDIA's anisotropy is more correct and all surfaces are processed irrespective of an angle of inclination, still, a too great speed fall irritates a lot. For details of anisotropy of ATI and NVIDIA see our 3Digest

We've also found out that the best way to manage the anisotropic filtering is with the help of RivaTuner developed by Aleksei Nikolaichuk AKA Unwinder. 

The last version of this program can enable anisotropy and adjust its speed and quality. But it works only starting from the v30.* drivers. 

In the Direct3D section it's possible to choose an anisotropy degree and optimize it. The drivers allow setting the highest filtering degree for each texture stage! It's possible to combine the modes. 

Last time we estimated in the 3DMark2001 (Game1, Game2, Game4) how reduction of an anisotropy level impacts quality at the texture stages 0 and 1. We set the Level 8, and reduced it to 2 or 4 for each texture stage. 

And now let's disable the anisotropy at all at the same texture stages, separately for each stage. 

Stage0 Stage1
Game 1

ANISO 8 Stage0 Level0 ANISO 8 Stage1 Level0

Game 2

ANISO 8 Stage0 Level0 ANISO 8 Stage1 Level0

Let me show you the quality difference in animated GIF files:

Game 1 Game 2

What results this examination produces? 

  1. For the Game1 it's better to disable the anisotropy at the texture stage 0, almost no quality difference. Below we will find out about the performance. 
  2. For the Game2 disabling of the anisotropy at the texture stage 0 brings bad artifacts. It makes sense to disable it at the stage 1. 
Now we turn to the performance scores, with anisotropy activated in the above mentioned modes. 

Game 1 Low details

We said that it's better to optimize the filtering at the texture stage 0 to achieve better quality. The performance gap is now twice narrower! 

Game 2 Low details

And here, although the speed gain is greater when the anisotropy is disabled at the texture stage 0, the quality obtained shows that such optimization isn't good. At the first texture stage the effect is smaller, though the percentage of the performance drop falls down twice. 

Game 3 Low details

In this case both optimization modes are equal as far as the performance is concerned. 

Game 4

Here the effect of the anisotropy is not so obvious because of a great deal of tiny objects. That is why it's better to disable the filtering at the texture stage 0 to provide a higher speed; the quality doesn't depend much on the optimization. 

Overall performance

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


I must say that the new optimization way of the anisotropic filtering by reducing quality of processing of farther objects hasn't failed. The new method which provides a performance growth of the GeForce4 Ti with the anisotropy activated has a complicated effect. The quality doesn't suffer much, which is very important as a user gets a flexible tool for adjusting the balance between quality and speed (when the anisotropy enabled). Next time we will find out what the new driver 40.41 allows for. 

About the tested card: 

  1. Soltek's video card has a perfect combination of the price and speed (it also supports VIVO). 
  2. The reference design is supported, which is one more benefit. 
  3. The light version of the cooler, which cools only the chip, is an advantage as well. We showed that such heavy systems covering both a chip and memory don't bring anything good as the heat is delivered to the memory chips which worsens their temperature mode. 
The complete comparison characteristics of video cards of this and other classes can be found in our 3Digest


Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com

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