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Gainward's Titanium Series Lineup
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Date: Jan 03, 2002
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
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The Gainward Titanium Series Lineup - Page 1

The Gainward Titanium Series Line-up
Pure Performance

By - Marco Chiappetta
January 3, 2002

We have stated on numerous occasions that with the video card market in it's current state, differentiating one product from another has become increasingly more difficult for both manufacturers and consumers.  Now that the ATi Radeon 7500 and 8500s have arrived and have matured nicely, there are finally other legitimate, high-performance alternatives out there.  If you have an NVIDIA based video card in mind however, choosing one manufacturer's card over another is a confusing task.  Due to the fact that, virtually all NVIDIA powered boards are based on standard reference designs and use the exact same drivers, most products perform at identical levels.  Manufacturers are forced to differentiate their products by including useful bundled software, using colored PCBs, enhanced cooling or by offering some other type of "tweak" to sway potential buyers in their direction.

Well, the Gainward Co., renowned for their "Golden Sample" branded video cards, has set out to please the most discriminating power users with their new GeForce Titanium line of products.  They are based on standard reference designs but feature a few enhancements that set them apart from the "crowd"...

Specifications and Features of the Gainward Titanium Series
Titanium Cubed

Features and Benefits of The Gainward GeForce 2 Ti/500 ViVo XP (Golden Sample)

Graphics Chipset
GeForce2 Ti
 
Graphics Core

250MHz, 256-bit 2D/3D GPU
270MHz in Enhanced Mode
 
Memory/Interface

64MB DDR/128-bit wide
 
Memory Clock

400MHz SDR Equivalent
500MHz in Enhanced Mode

Memory Bandwidth
6.4 GB/sec.
 
Fill Rate (texels)

2B/sec.
 
2D/3D resolution (max)
2048 x 1536 @ 75Hz

Video In and Out Module
 
  • 1 Billion Pixel/Second Rendering
  • Second Generation Integrated Transform Lighting (T&L) Engines
  • NVIDIA Shading Rasterizer (NSR)
  • High-Definition Video Processor
  • AGP 4X/2X, AGP Texturing, and Fast Writes Support
  • 32-bit Z/stencil buffer
  • Microsoft® DirectX® and OpenGL® Optimizations and Support
  • Unified Driver Support
  • Features and Benefits of The Gainward GeForce 3 Ti/450 PowerPack (Golden Sample)

    Graphics Chipset
    GeForce3 Ti 200
     
    Graphics Core

    175MHz, 256-bit 2D/3D GPU (Normal)
    200MHz in Enhanced Mode
     
    Memory/Interface

    64MB DDR/128-bit wide
     
    Memory Clock

    400MHz SDR Equivalent (Normal)
    444MHz in Enhanced Mode
     
    Memory Bandwidth

    6.4 GB/sec.
     
    Fill Rate (texels)

    1400M/sec.
     
    2D/3D resolution (max)

    2048 x 1536 @ 75Hz

     
  • Shadow Buffers
  • nfiniteFX® Engine
  • Vertex & Pixel Shaders
  • Lightspeed Memory Architecture
  • High-Resolution Antialiasing (HRAA)
  • High-Definition Video
  • TV / S-Video Out
  • DirectX®8.1 Compatibility.
  • AGP 4X/2X, AGP Texturing Support
  • DirectX and OpenGL Optimizations
  • Unified Driver Support
  • Features and Benefits of The Gainward GeForce 3 Ti/550 PowerPack
     
    Graphics Chipset
    GeForce3 Ti 500
     
    Graphics Core

    240MHz, 256-bit 2D/3D GPU (Normal)
    249MHz in Enhanced Mode
     
    Memory/Interface

    64MB DDR/128-bit wide
     
    Memory Clock

    500MHz SDR Equivalent (Normal)
    544MHz in Enhanced Mode
     
    Memory Bandwidth

    8.0 GB/sec.
     
    Fill Rate (texels)

    1920M/sec.
     
    2D/3D resolution (max)

    2048 x 1536 @ 75Hz
     
  • Shadow Buffers
  • 3D Textures
  • nfiniteFX? Engine
  • Vertex & Pixel Shaders
  • Lightspeed Memory Architecture
  • High-Resolution Antialiasing (HRAA)
  • High-Definition Video Processor
  • VGA / TV / S-Video Out / DVI-I
  • AGP 4X/2X, AGP Texturing Support
  • DirectX and OpenGL Optimizations
  • Unified Driver Support
  • This is one article, where I really hope you all took the time to scan the specifications of all three of the Gainward Titaniums we are looking at today.  Most importantly, take note of the "Enhanced" mode clock speeds.  All of these boards are guaranteed to overclock to the these higher clock speeds right out of the box.

    THE BUNDLES:


    GF2 TI500 BUNDLE


    GF3 TI450 BUNDLE


    GF3 TI550 BUNDLE

    The Gainward GeForce 3 Ti / 450 and Ti / 550 PowerPacks came with the exact same bundles.  Included with the boards were driver CDs, a utility CD containing Adobe ActiveShare, Imagemore, E-Color 3Deep, trial versions of Cyberlink's Medi@show, PowerVCR and VideoLive Mail, and a complete version of Intervideo's WinDVD 3.0. There was also an S-Video to Composite (RCA) video adapter for use with the TV-Out feature.

    The Gainward GeForce 2 Ti / 500 XP ViVo included all of the same items as it's GeForce 3 counterparts plus a copy of Ulead VideoStudio, and a slightly different adapter that provides both composite and S-Video in and out connectors.  The bundles were very complete, the only thing Gainward could have done to make them better would have been to include a good game or two. :)

    Quality, Setup and the Drivers 

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    The Gainward Titanium Series Lineup - Page 2

    The Gainward Titanium Series Line-up
    Pure Performance

    By - Marco Chiappetta
    January 3, 2002

    When all three of the Gainward Titanium cards arrived in the lab, we gave them thorough physical inspections before installing them into our test system and running any benchmarks.

    Quality of the Gainward Titanium Series
    Lot's of NVIDIA hardware!

    The GeForce 2 Ti/500 XP ViVo Golden Sample


     


     

    Physically, all of the cards appeared to be similar.  The most obvious common "feature" was the bright red PCB.  No plane-Jane green cards here!  When I initially saw these cards, my first thought was, "Wow! These babies would "mesh" well with the MSI K7T266 Pro 2RU." Couple one of these cards with that MSI board, some red, rounded IDE cables and you'll have one seriously red system! :)
     

    An the bottom of the GeForce 2 Ti / 500's external plate, you'll find a standard DB15 analog VGA out connector, and the Video-in and Out connector.  The card is cooled with an excellent, round, aluminum heatsink / fan combo that is attached to the board with two plastic spring clips.  The cooler looks similar to the ThermalTake "Orb" series of coolers, but is slightly smaller, and won't cost you a PCI slot.  The eight 4ns DDR RAM chips, totaling 64MB were cooled with four passive heatsinks.  Gainward's cooling efforts paid off, as you'll see later we had good luck overclocking these cards.

    The GeForce 3 Ti/450 PowerPack Golden Sample


     


     

    Physically, the Gainward GeForce 3 Ti / 450 looks similar to the GF2 model, and just like the Ti / 550 with one exception.  All of the boards have the red PCB in common.
     

    The external plate also houses a standard DB15 analog monitor connector, and an S-Video-out connector, but on the GeForce 3 Ti / 450 they are located at the top of the plate.  The card is cooled with the exact same heatsink / fan combo, and RAM heatsinks as the other two boards.  Underneath those RAM heatsinks, you'll find 64MB of 5ns DDR SDRAM on the Ti / 450.

    The GeForce 3 Ti/550 PowerPack


     


     

    No, you are not experiencing Deja Vu, all three of the Gainward Titaniums we are reviewing just look very similar!
     

    The Gainward GeForce 3 Ti / 550 is the only card we received that came equipped with a DVI digital monitor output connector, along with the standard analog and S-Video out connectors.  Again the same cooling scheme was used for the GPU and RAM, but populating the Ti / 550 is 64MB of 3.8NS DDR RAM.  Something we're pleased to report is that all three of these Gainward boards used thermal paste and the T.I.M. between the cooler and GPU.

    There was one small chink in the armor though.  The cooler on our Ti / 550 arrived with one of the spring clips disloged.  Once we pushed the clip back down, it was fine though.  If we had not noticed this our card could have overheated.

    Installation and Drivers of the Gainward Titanium Series
    Anyone can do this...
     
    We did not have any problems installing any of the Gainward Titanium cards.  We inserted the cards, booted up the machine and let the driver CD autorun.  One re-boot later and we were up and running.  Gainward included the older v21.81 NVIDIA reference drivers on the CD with all of their Ti cards, but as of today they have v22.50s are available for download on their site.  We won't bore you with any driver shots, I'm sure by now you've all seen what NVIDIA's drivers look like!

    What we will show you is Gainward's ExperTool.  This useful utility gives users easy access to all of the driver control panels with a click of an icon in your system tray...
     

     

     

    From within this utility, is also where you ca select the "Enhanced" performance mode which essentially overclocks the cards to the advertised speeds.

    The Test Rig, Some Screens & DirectX 8 Benchmarks

     
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    The Gainward Titanium Series Lineup - Page 3

    The Gainward Titanium Series Line-up
    Pure Performance

    By - Marco Chiappetta
    January 3, 2002

    DirectX performance only tells part of the story, we can't forget about OpenGL can we?  Here are a few benchmarks to test the OpenGL performance of each card as well.
     

    OpenGL Benchmarks with GLExcess XS Mark
    Making an appearance

    GLExcess was the first OpenGL hurdle we placed in front of the Gainward Ti cards.  We ran this test at both 16 and 32-Bit color at resolutions of 800x600 and 1024x768.

    How about a round of applause for the Gainward GeForce 2 Ti / 500!  Available memory bandwidth isn't significantly stressed using 16-Bit color, which allows the GeForce 2 Ti to shine and surpass the GeForce 3 Ti / 450 in this test.  Let's see if the story is different using 32-Bit color...

    The tables are turned here.  Once again the more efficient memory controller in the GeForce 3 cards equates to better overall performance. 

    OpenGL Benchmarks with Vulpine GL Mark
    More OpenGL testing

    Vulpine GLMark is a popular synthetic OpenGL benchmark that simulates "in-game" performance in detailed indoor and outdoor environments.  We also ran Vulpine through a series of tests at both 16 and 32-Bit color.  To keep the playing field level, we did not enable "GeForce 3" features in these tests, because the GeForce 2 Ti doesn't have the same pixel and vertex shading capabilities of the GeForce 3. 

    All three boards performed similarly in the 16-Bit Vulpine tests.  Notice that at 800x600, the GeForce 2 Ti /  500 outperformed the GeForce 3 Ti / 450.  I don't think that too many of you will be purchasing one of these cards to game at 16-Bit though, so let's move on and see what happens when we jack up the color depth a notch.

    More OpenGL with Vulpine and Quake 3

     
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    The Gainward Titanium Series Lineup - Page 4

    The Gainward Titanium Series Line-up
    Pure Performance

    By - Marco Chiappetta
    January 3, 2002

    Let's continue with the Vulpine OpenGL benchmarking.  Next up was have the 32-Bit results. 

    OpenGL Benchmarks with Vulpine Continued...
    More GL Torture

     

    As we cranked up the quality, obviously we saw a performance drop across the board.  The GeForce 2 Ti / 500 took a much larger hit though.  As was the case in all of the other tests, all three of these card exhibited excellent performance.

    OpenGL Benchmarks with Quake 3
    The End is Near!

    We couldn't call this a review without a series of tests using Quake 3 Arena.  As CPUs increased in clockspeed and GPUs have increased in performance and capabilities, Quake 3 has lost some of it's effectiveness as a benchmark.  My e-mail box fears the day when we post our first review without Quake 3 numbers though...I can already envision some of the flame mail... :)

    In this first Quake 3 test, we set the texture and geometry sliders to maximum, enabled trilinear filtering, set the color depth to 16-Bit and ran timedemo Demo001 (v1.17).  Across the board, the Gainward cards performed great.  When 89 FPS is the "lowest" score in the group, you know you've got to turn the quality up and stress things a bit more though!

    With the graphical options still set to their maximum, we upped the color depth to 32-Bit and ran the same test at the same resolutions.  Although, the GeForce 2 Ti / 500 performed well, its not in the same league as the GeForce 3 Titaniums.  The performance of the Gainward GeForce 3 Ti / 550 was simply awesome.  If you've got a capable monitor, there is no reason not to play Quake 3 at 1600x1200x32.  At a healthy 104.7FPS in this test, the Gainward Ti / 550 is easily one of the fastest boards on the market.

    Overclocking and Final Words

     
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    The Gainward Titanium Series Lineup - Page 5

    The Gainward Titanium Series Line-up
    Pure Performance

    By - Marco Chiappetta
    January 3, 2002 

    We ran all of the benchmarks in this review with all three of the Gainward GeForce Titanium cards set to their "Enhanced" settings, so technically they were already overclocked.  There is always a little headroom though!  We pushed all three of the cards a bit further and ran 3D Mark 2001's default benchmark again.

    Overclocking with the Gainward Titanium Series.
    Pushing Hardware to its Limits!

     
    Gainward's "Golden Sample" branded cards have been known to be some of the best overclocking cards on the market, and these three were not different. 

    Across the board we saw gains of a few hundred points when we overclocked the cards.  We were able to hit a stable core and memory speed of 270MHz. / 573MHz. with the GF3 Ti / 550, 224MHz. / 458MHz. with the GF3 Ti / 450 and the GF2 Ti / 500 hit an awesome 288MHz. / 518MHz.  Overclockers of the world will not be disappointed with the Gainward line of Titanium cards.  I shudder to think of what the Gainward GeForce 3 Ti / 550 will do when coupled with a heavily overclocked Athlon XP 2000+ or a 2.0GHz+ P4!

    The GeForce 2 Ti/500 XP Golden Sample

    We are going to rate each of these boards individually, taking their target market into consideration.  Although the Gainward GeForce 2 Ti / 500 was the "low-end" card in this review, it should by no means be overlooked.  Its a high performing product with Video-In and Video-Out capabilities, a good software bundle and coming in it at just under $130 on Pricewatch, it's not very expensive at all.  The GeForce 2 Ti may be lacking some of the more advanced features of the GeForce 3 GPUs, but if you're running DirectX 7, or some other "older" games it's a great choice.  Dollar for dollar, its one of the most powerful cards you can buy. We give the Gainward GeForce 2 Ti / 500 a HotHardware Heat Meter Rating of...

    The GeForce 3 Ti/450 PowerPack Golden Sample

    The "mainstream" card in the group, the Gainward GeForce 3 Ti / 450, also succeeds at catering to it's target market perfectly.  While you can overclock any card to a certain extent, Gainward guarantees a certain level of overclocked performance for the same price as any other GeForce 3 Ti / 200 (around $160 with TV-Out).  The quality and performance is top-notch and should provide acceptable gaming performance for quite some time, for a very reasonable investment.  We give the Gainward GeForce 3 Ti / 450 a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of...

    The GeForce 3 Ti/550 PowerPack

    Lastly we come to the pinnacle of Gainward's consumer level video cards, the GeForce 3 Ti / 550.  If you're looking for a pure gaming card, you can make no better choice than the Gainward GeForce 3 Ti / 550.  Like the Ti / 450, Gainward offers a card that is guaranteed to overclock to a certain level, at the same price point as competing products (around $320).  Until proven otherwise, I'll be recommending the Gainward GeForce 3 Ti / 550 to anyone who asks me for input on what high-performance gaming card they should buy.  In addition, this card has found a new home in this reviewer's personal gaming rig.  We give the Gainward GeForce 3 Ti / 550 a rare Editor's Choice award and a perfect HotHardware Heat meter rating of...

     

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