Logo   Banner   TopRight
TopUnder
Transparent
Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750XP TV/VIVO Golden Sample!
Transparent
Date: Jun 21, 2002
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
Transparent
The Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750XP TV/VIVO Golden Sample! - Page 1

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

By - Marco Chiappetta
June 20, 2002

Over the last year or so, Gainward has done an excellent job differentiating their NVIDIA based video boards from their competition's.  Gainward's designers and marketing team seem to have found a winning combination...high quality, hand-picked components that are guaranteed to overclock, on products that are sold at a competitive price.  Lately, with the high-end cards in their line-up, Gainward has also started including a useful array of software and accessories.  The card we'll be looking at here, the Gainward GeForce 4 PowerPack! Ultra 750 / XP ViVo Golden Sample, is Gainward's current "Flagship" product, powered by NVIDIA's GeForce 4 Ti 4600 GPU.  In previous reviews, we were very impressed by the other "Golden Sample" cards we tested, so we were eager to get this product in our lab.  The Ultra / 750 XP shipped with a ton of extras and should be one of the premier GeForce 4 Ti 4600's on the market.  What do you say we get this card installed and find out what she's made of?


CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW...

Specifications and Features of the Gainward GF4 Ti 4600 Ultra/750XP
Pure Titanium
Product Specifications:
  • Integrated NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti, the most powerful GPU.
  • Supporting 128MB high-speed 128bit DDR RAM/SDRAM memory.
  • NVIDIA nVIEW Display Technology provides flexibility an control for using multiple displays.
  • Lightspeed Memory Architecture (LMA) II increases memory bandwidth efficiency for unmatched performance.
  • Accuview Antialiasing delivers unbeatable visual quality and frames rates.
    NVIDIA nfiniteFX II engine for full programmability.
  • Dual Programmable Pixel product surface details never before seen on the desktop.
  • Integrated hardware transform and lighting engine.
  • Integrated 32-bit color and 32-bit Z/Stencil Buffer.
  • Integrated Cube environment mapping, and true reflective bump mapping.
    Multibuffering (double, triple, quadruple) for smooth animation and video playback.
  • AGP 2X/4X supporting and Execute Mode ,Easy Plug- and-Play AUTORUN installation From CD-ROM include.
  • Support High-Definition Video Processor (HDVP).
  • Gainward's ExperTool TM utility for customized performance enhancements and efficient desktop management.
  • Performance enhanced, accelerated software drivers for all major operation systems and APIs.
  • Video-out support (NTSC/PAL) TV system. Providing best-of-class TV-out functionality at high resolutions.
  • Support LCD output with DVI connect, the resolution up to 1600x1200.
Gainward's XP-Feature for Video-In and Video-Out:
  • Gainward's award-winning XP feature, also know as "VIVO", provides two video-in connectors and two video-out connectors (both composite video and s-video for PAL and NTSC) for smooth video recording and video editing including accelerated DVD playback with enhanced motion compensation in hardware.

EXPERTool Performance Tuning Utility:

  • EXPERTool is Gainward's performance tuning utility that allows the user to easily adjust the engine clock and memory clock of any Gainward product from NVIDIA's recommended default settings to even higher settings. Gainward offers the end user the choice to either run the board in "Safe Mode Setting" or at "Enhanced Setting" ("Golden Sample" products only, featuring a more stable design with faster memory) which offer enhanced real-world 3D performance for higher resolution. Performance turning is the most commonly used method among the ultimate power gamers to extract the utmost performance out of a high quality 3D graphics card.

API SUPPORT:

  • DirectDraw
  • Direct3D
  • DirectVideo
  • DirectX 8.1
  • Open GL ICD

THE BUNDLE:

Informed enthusiasts have known for some time that Gainward attempts to make their hardware stand out amongst a slew of other similar products.  With the Ultra / 750 XP Golden Sample, they have also taken steps to make the bundled software and accessories overshadow anything available from their competition.

   

Included with the Gainward GeForce 4 PowerPack! Ultra / 750XP TV/VIVO Golden Sample, are a deluge of useful accompaniments. Along with the card and user's manual, you'll find any adapter, utility or cable needed to take advantage of the complete array of features this card has to offer.  The software bundle is comprised of Intervideo's excellent WinDVD software DVD player, WinProducer video editing software and WinCoder encoding software.  There is also an obligatory driver CD included, which contains a copy of Gainward's EXPERTool performance tuning utility.  Some gamers will be happy to find a complete version of Croteam's Serious Sam in the box as well, but we would have liked to have found a more recently released game.  Something else gamers may find appealing are the included 3D Stereo-Shutter glasses.  These 3D glasses work with most games, and when configured properly, produce a very realistic 3D effect.  Prolonged gaming with the glasses give me a mild headache though, so if you're itching to try these out, proceed with caution (and some aspirin!).  There are also two DVI-To-Analog adapters included with this card, because it is one of the few GeForce 4 Ti's with two separate Silicon Image 164 TMDS transmitters driving dual DVI-I outputs.  This configuration offers the greatest flexibility to those looking to connect multiple CRTs or Flat-Panels to their PC.

   

The Ultra / 750 XP Golden Sample also has Video-In and Video-Out capabilities, so Gainward included an adapter that allows for the connection of either S-Video or composite sources.  Taking things a step further, Gainward also bundles a VIA powered IEEE-1394 PCI card and cable to appease the growing number of digital video producers out there.  We did not test the transfer rates using the IEEE-1394 card, but we did install it into our Windows XP test system.  Windows XP actually detected the card and installed the necessary drivers without even prompting us for a disk...nice and easy, just the way we like it!

Quality, Setup and the Drivers 

Transparent
The Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750XP TV/VIVO Golden Sample! - Page 2

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

 
Transparent
The Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750XP TV/VIVO Golden Sample! - Page 3

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

By - Marco Chiappetta
June 20, 2002

3DMark 2001 SE uses advanced pixel and vertex shaders, as well as bump-mapping to test a card's performance and capabilities.  It taxes modern graphics processors without enabling any special features, but with AA turned on performance will surely drop off a bit.

More DirectX 8 Benchmarks with 3D Mark 2001SE and AA
Synthetic is cool...

We used the "Performance" AA method available in ATi's drivers when testing the Radeon (NVIDIA's reference drivers only offer one method).  With 2X AA enabled the Gainward GF4 Ultra 750 / XP still dominated the Radeon 8500LE.  Even with AA enabled, the Gainward card was able to break 9000 3D Marks running the default benchmark.  The reason there is no score for the Radeon at 1600x1200, is because it is not capable of running AA at that high of a resolution.

With the GeForce 4 Ti, NVIDIA introduced the 4XS DirectX AA method.  This new method is similar to 4X AA, but uses new sample locations and filters textures to decrease blur and jaggies. (See Dave's original GF4 Ti review for a more in-depth explanation of this method).  The 4XS AA method is more taxing than "regular" 4X AA.  ATi doesn't offer a similar method though, so we decided to compared ATi's standard 4X AA to NVIDIA's 4XS AA.  The Gainward card again performed very well, almost doubling the Radeon 8500LE's score at 1280x1024.

OpenGL Benchmarks with Quake 3 Arena
OpenGL testing Begins

QUAKE 3 ARENA:

It's time for the obligatory Quake 3 numbers!  All of the Quake 3 tests were run with the game using the "High Quality" graphics setting, with tri-linear filtering and the geometry and texture quality sliders set to their maximum.  Obviously, the above graph shows neither card had any trouble with Quake 3.  The Gainward card bested the Radeon by almost 40FPS at 1024x768, and almost 48FPS at 1600x1200! 

More OpenGL with Quake 3

 
Transparent
The Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750XP TV/VIVO Golden Sample! - Page 4

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

By - Marco Chiappetta
June 20, 2002

With Quake 3 still set to the "High Quality" graphics setting, we enabled AA and tested the cards again at the same resolutions.  We also ran some tests with Anisotropic filtering enabled. 

OpenGL Benchmarks with Quake 3 with AA
More GL Torture

 

The performance difference between the two cards was even greater with Anti-Aliasing enabled.  At every resolution, the Gainward Ultra 750 / XP smoked the Radeon 8500LE.  Seeing playable framerates at 1600x1200 with 2X AA enabled, with the GF4 Ti 4600 still makes me little giddy! :)

With 4X AA enabled the Gainward card doubles the performance level of the Radeon at both resolutions.  Neither card was able to utilize 4X AA at 1600x1200, which is why it is not represented in the graph above.

OpenGL Benchmarks with Quake 3 and Anisotropic Filtering
Aniso Goodness!

So far, the Radeon 8500LE hasn't put up too much of a fight.  With Anisotropic filtering enabled in Quake 3, the benchmark scores seemed to flip-flop in favor of the Radeon.  There is a good reason for this though, read this page for a detailed explanation as to why ATi cards outperform NVIDIA cards when Anisotropic filtering is enabled.

First, we enabled 32-Tap Anisotropic filtering in each card's drivers (8X in ATi's drivers, 4X in NVIDIA's).  The Gainward Ultra 750 / XP's performance nosedived when Anisotropic filtering was enabled.  The Radeon slowed slightly, but the performance hit wasn't nearly as significant.  The Gainward card lost about 73FPS at 1024x768, while the Radeon only dropped about 4FPS!

If we increased the quality even further by enabling 64-Tap Anisotropic filtering (16X in ATi's drivers, 8X in NVIDIA's), the Radeon 8500LE was again able to outperform Gainward GF4 Ti 4600 at every resolution.  NVIDIA has promised major performance improvements when using Anisotropic Filtering in future revisions of their drivers.  Hopefully they'll deliver soon.

Some Serious Sam: TSE...

 
Transparent
The Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750XP TV/VIVO Golden Sample! - Page 5

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

By - Marco Chiappetta
June 20, 2002

Next, we ran Serious Sam: The Second Encounter.  We configured the game to use OpenGL and maxed out the texture and detail quality.  This game uses Croteam's next generation game engine and a slew of textures to display the in-game world on your screens.

OpenGL Benchmarks with Serious Sam SE
More GL Action

 
SERIOUS SAM - TSE:

There is a lot of action and quite a few models throughout the Serious Sam: TSE timedemo.  As you can see, the Gainward Ultra 750 / XP was significantly faster than the Radeon 8500LE at every resolution.  We also enabled Anti-Aliasing and ran this test at the same resolutions on both cards.

OpenGL Benchmarks with Serious Sam SE and AA
The End is Near!

With 2X AA enabled, we obviously lost some performance, but the Gainward Ultra 750 / XP handled the increased load much better.  With 4X AA enabled, the Gainward card doubled the Radeon 8500LE's performance at every resolution.  Also note that the GF4 Ti 4600 was able to run Serious Sam: TSE at 1600x1200 with 4X AA without a problem in this test, but the Radeon could not.

Overclocking and Final Words

 
Transparent
The Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750XP TV/VIVO Golden Sample! - Page 6

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

By - Marco Chiappetta
June 20, 2002 

If you're like us, no matter how fast a product is, running it at it's default clock speed is simply not an option!  We spent a little time overclocking with our Gainward GF4 Ultra 750 / XP Golden Sample before wrapping things up....

Overclocking with the Gainward GeForce 4 Ultra/750XP
Pushing Hardware to it's Limit!

 

The Gainward GF4 Ultra 750 / XP's default clock speeds are 300MHz for the core and 650MHz DDR (325MHz. x 2) for the memory.  Using the EXPERTool to put the card in 'Enhanced Mode" cranks things up to 310MHz / 680MHz.  Knowing there was still more performance yet to be had, I increased the clock speeds further and was able to hit a top core clock speed of 326MHz with the memory clocked at 726MHz!  This particular card was one of the best overclocking GF4s we have seen to date.  With the clock speeds turned up, we wan 3DMark 2001 SE again.  Performance went up across the board, gaining a few hundred points at all resolutions.

So, after testing the Gainward GeForce 4 PowerPack! Ultra 750 / XP ViVo Golden Sample, what do we think of this card?  Now there's a question that's very easy to answer.   This card is awesome.  The performance of this card was on par or better than every other GeForce 4 Ti 4600 we have tested, and it's bundle was fantastic.  The included software, 3D glasses and IEEE-1394 card add a lot of value to this product, without adding significantly to the price.  As of today this card can be found on Pricewatch.Com for $335 US, a competing card from Visiontek was priced at $315 US.  To us spending the extra $20 is a no-brainer when you consider the bundle and guaranteed higher clock speeds.  We give the Gainward GeForce 4 PowerPack! Ultra 750 / XP ViVo Golden Sample a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of 9.5.

Based on it's excellent bundle, overclocking potential and it's top-notch performance we're also giving this card an Editor's Choice award!

Discuss This, Or Any Other HotHardware Article In the PC Hardware Forums!
 

  To HotHardware!

 
Transparent
The Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750XP TV/VIVO Golden Sample! - Page 7
Unknown Title


Content Property of HotHardware.com