Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750XP TV/VIVO Golden Sample!

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The Gainward GF4 PowerPack! Ultra/750XP Golden Sample!
An Awesome Card With an Insane Bundle...

By - Marco Chiappetta
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!)

Quality of the Gainward GF4 Ultra/750XP
Red.  Ummm...Yes, Very Red.

THE CARD:

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 bundled 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 this...
 
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 looked fantastic.

The Test Rig, Some Screens & DirectX 8 Benchmarks

 
Tags:  GeForce, TV, Power, XP, gold, Ultra, amp, force, ULT, AC, AI, AR, AM, K

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