Gainward's AGP8X NVIDIA Powered "Golden Samples"

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Gainward's AGP8X NVIDIA Powered "Golden Samples"
Giving Things a Boost with AGP 8X

By - Jeff Bouton
December 03, 2002

The Gainward GF4 Powerpack! Pro 600 8X TV/DVI
The Basic Package

Aside from the addition of AGP8X, Gainward has redesigned the GF4 MX Pro 600 8X/XP 'Golden Sample' so it hardly resembles the "standard" Pro 600 Marco reviewed back in April.  With 64MB of DDR-RAM, RAM sinks, a DVI connector and a new core, the GF4 MX Pro 600 8X/XP has much more to offer than before.  The card comes configured with slightly more aggressive timings than standard MX cards, pushing the new core to 275MHz vs. the 270MHz common of other GeForce4 440 MXs.  The memory also enjoys a little boost over standard speeds, running a full 100MHz faster than previous MX440s at 500MHz. 

     

The RAM sinks were attached with thermal tape, but we were not as disappointed as we normally would have been, since the RAM really doesn't get all that hot.  Thankfully, Gainward used real thermal paste when applying the cooler to the GPU and we were equally pleased to see an even spread when we checked the application.  Unlike the previous Pro 600 series, the GF4 MX Pro 600 8X/XP adds full TV In/Out functionality and also supports LCD monitors with its DVI port.  If a LCD monitor is out of your reach, a DVI to VGA adapter is included.  With the adapter on the DVI port, running dual analog monitors is a snap and a great way to go if you have the room. 

Clearly Gainward is looking to gain an edge in the MX market, giving the GF4 MX Pro 600 8X/XP a little extra muscle.  Next we'll take a peek at the Gainward GF4 Powerpack! Ultra/650 8X/XP TV/DVI.

The Gainward GF4 Powerpack! Ultra/650 8X/XP TV/DVI
A Little More Muscle

 
The Gainward GF4 Powerpack! Ultra/650 8X/XP TV/DVI is a new revision of the GF4 Powerpack! Ultra/650 TV/DVI that we reviewed in September.  The difference between the two cards is much less than what we saw with the Pro 600 model.  Essentially, the Ultra/650 8X TV/DVI has a new core (the NV28) that supports the AGP 3.0 standard and it comes with a total of 128MBs of DDR-RAM compared to the 64MB on the original Ultra/650.  This time around Gainward opted to pass on the RAM sinks that came equipped on the older 650, leaving the newer card's RAM bare.  The reason they decided to omit the RAM sink is most likely cost, but we suspect it will have little effect on the overclocking performance of the card.

     

We were happy to see that the heat sink was mounted to the card with spring clips, and that it had an even layer of thermal grease applied, making for maximum thermal transfer to the heat sink.  The remainder of the card was standard Ti4200 fare, offering up a VGA and DVI output, as well as a port for the TV-In/Out functions of the card.  The cooler was the common circular low-profile cooler that is often found on Gainward products. 

There really isn't a whole lot that we haven't seen before with this model aside from the AGP 8X.  Before we get into the benchmarking of these two cards, we thought we might throw some you a few quick screenshots from one of our favorite games. 

Some Eye Candy
Examples of Visual Quality

No video card review would be complete without a few screenshots for your viewing pleasure.  So we rummaged through our extensive game collection and came up with one of our favorites, Medal of Honor - Allied Assault.  This has to be one of the best games ever, and if you haven't played it, you are really missing out!  Below are a few teaser shots taken with the Ultra/650 8X/XP 'Golden Sample' in the driver's seat.  To see just how nice things could get, we enabled 64-Tap anisotropic filtering and 4X FSAA.  Enjoy!

Medal of Honor - Allied Assault

    

OK, let's get back to work.  Next we're going to take a quick look at some overclocking before we fire up the HH test bed and get the benchmarks going!

Overclocking
Just a Quickie

With these two cards, we put the EXPERTool to work to see what speeds we could reach.  With the Gainward GF4 MX Pro 600/8X-XP ?Golden Sample?, we set the EXPERTool to Enhanced mode which increased the card from 275/500 to 290/590 and the card seemed more than happy with it.  In the end, the enhanced mode offered an increase of 5.4% on the core and 18% in memory speed.  The GF4 Ti Ultra 650/XP ?Golden Sample? started out at a default 250/444 which increased to 260/520 in Enhanced Mode.  With this card we had no trouble completing a run of 3DMark2001SE at 310/530!  In the end we gained 24% in core speed and boosted the memory by 19%.  Obviously these two products are built with overclocking in mind and should keep the avid overclocker quite happy. 

Next we'll get cranking on some numbers to see how the addition of AGP8X compliance affects performance versus AGP4X.

The Test Rig and Some DirectX Testing...

 

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