GF4 PowerPack! Ultra/750XP Golden Sample!
An Awesome Card
With an Insane Bundle...
June 20, 2002
If you're a HotHardware regular,
you know that we like to thoroughly inspect every piece of
hardware we get before installing it into our test system.
(If you're not a regular, what are you waiting for? Stop
messing around and bookmark us right now!)
the Gainward GF4
The first thing
we'll look at on the Ultra / 750 XP Golden Sample is the
backplate, where you can clearly see the dual DVI-I outputs
and the Video-In / Video-Out connector. Using the two
DVI-to-Analog VGA adapters allows users to connect either
two DVI displays, two analog monitors or one monitor of each type.
You could also connect this card to a television courtesy of
the on-board Philips SAA7108E video encoder, which is
capable of outputting composite video at a resolution of up
to 800x600. The cooler used on the Ultra / 750 XP is
modeled after the the NVIDIA designed heatsink and fan combo that
debuted on their
GeForce 4 Ti and MX reference cards, with a nice red
powder coating that matches the red PCB. This cooler
not only looks good, but it works very well (Jeff
actually tested it against eVGA's ACS2).
The design is simple, yet efficient, and because of the
unique shape and fin layout, airflow is directed out over
the RAM which will help keep the 64MB of 2.8ns Samsung BGA
modules mounted to the front of the card cool. We
removed the cooler and were happy to see a smooth, even layer
of thermal paste applied to the GPU which helps insure
proper heat transfer from the GPU into the heatsink. The remaining 64MB
of memory mounted on the back of the card, gets help in the
cooling department by two slim, finned heatsinks. The
heatsinks on the back of the card are adequate, but no where
near as large, and don't have nearly as much surface area as
the ones mounted on the other side of the board.
Overall we were pleased with the excellent build quality of
the GeForce 4 PowerPack! Ultra / 750XP Golden Sample.
Not all of the
decisions Gainward made when designing the Ultra / 750 XP
were good though. If a monitor with a standard analog
connector is being used in conjunction with the included 3D
glasses, which is what the vast majority of you out there
will be doing, the stack of adapters that get connected
extend more than six inches from the back of the card
before the monitor cable is even plugged in. The
leverage of all of these adapters, plus the weight of a
standard monitor cable put a lot of extra stress on
whichever DVI-I connector is being used. You'll also
have to be careful moving your case, you don't want to crush
this setup against the wall...
Installation and Software
Anyone can do
Thankfully, installing this card
was quick and painless. Gainward's hardware and
included set of NVIDIA reference drivers installed properly,
and shouldn't give anyone a problem. We won't be
covering the drivers in this review though,
we've covered them numerous times in the past.
We did want to give you a quick
run-down of the EXPERTool utility. The screenshots
above were taken from the "Performance" sections of the
program. You'll notice in the second shot, the
clockspeed for the Gainward GF4 Ultra 750 / XP is set to
310MHz Core / 680MHz memory. By default this card is
clocked like any other GeForce 4 Ti 4600, 300MHz core /
650MHz memory, but because Gainward "hand picks" the GPU and
components they guarantee this card will run properly at the
higher clock speed.
We didn't spend too much time
with the WinProducer and WinCoder software, but if they're
anything like WinDVD, they should work well. We did
play a few DVD's using WinDVD though and found that DVD
playback with this card was excellent, on par with all other
cards in it's class.
2D Image quality seemed to be a
bit better than other GeForce 4's we have tested. We
asked Gainward if using a DVI-I connector with the included
adapters would produce better image quality then using a
standard 15-pin connector and were told there should be very
little, if any difference in quality. Regardless, we
thought the 2D output was excellent. This card
produced crisp, output all the way up to 1600x1200x32 on the
Mitsubishi 2040U monitor we used for testing.
We snapped off a couple of
screen shots from within Rockstar Game's very popular Grand
Theft Auto 3 to give you a little eye candy before getting
to the nitty-gritty. These shots were taken at
1024x768x32 with 4X AA enabled. Even with the AA maxed
out at 4X, GTA 3 was completely playable and we think it
Test Rig, Some Screens & DirectX 8 Benchmarks