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Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 TD
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Date: Dec 15, 2001
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
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The Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 TD - Page 1

The Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 TD
A Reference Design With Attitude...

By, Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
June 27, 2001
 

 

Now that the GeForce 3 has been widely available for a few weeks, we find ourselves in the same situation we we've been in numerous times before, since the days of the Voodoo2. Manufacturers follow a standard reference design, mass produce it and market it under their recognized brand name. The advantage of this process is knowing you are getting a product based on a proven, tested design. The disadvantage is that differentiating one product from another becomes very difficult. Many times potential customers are forced to make their buying decisions based on the included software bundle, or solely on price.

Occasionally though, a company will modify this reference design to better cater their product to a particular market. This is the case with the Leadtek Winfast GeForce 3 TD we'll be taking a look at today. Although this card is not a complete departure from the standard nVidia reference design, a few slight, but significant changes, have been made that should please many hardcore gamers. If you're at all familiar with the current crop of GeForce 3s, just looking at the Winfast GeForce 3 TD reveals that this card is different than most others in its class. With over 15 years of experience in the design and manufacture of a wide range of high performance graphics and video solutions, you'd be inclined to think that the engineers at Leadtek posses the "know how" to produce a top-notch product. We were impressed with a few of Leadtek's GeForce 2 based offerings, specifically the Winfast GF2 MX DH Pro and their Enhanced GTS), but we won't know how we feel about the Winfast GeForce 3 TD until we see how it performs in our usual suite of benchmarks?lets get started and see what we find out?

       

Specifications and Features Of The Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 TD
This ain't your momma's reference design

 

Specifications:
  • Nvidia GeForce3
  • 350MHz RAMDAC
  • 3.2 billion AA samples per sec fill rate
  • 7.36GB/sec memory bandwidth
  • Lightspeed Memory Architecture amplifies memory bandwidth
  • AGP 2X/4X with Fast Writes Support
  • 32-bit Z/stencil buffer
  • DirectX 8.0
  • OpenGL 1.2 ICD support

Cooling solution:

  • On-board heat-sink cooling fan (Special Designed Active Cooling Module for GPU and Memory)

Memory:

  • 64MB On-board 4ns DDR memory

AGP Standard:

  • AGP 2.0 slot support

TV-out / DVI:

  • TV-out up to 1024x768 resolution
  • Onboard DVI connector up to 1280x1024 resolution

Driver support:

  • Win 2K, ME, Win 98

Hardware Features:

  • High-Performance Hardware Anti-Aliasing
  • DVD software included
  • AGP 4X/2X, AGP texturing
  • Programmable Vertex Shader
  • Second Generation Integrated Transform and Lighting (T&L) Engines
  • Leadtek WinFox system utility

Leadtek WinFox Utility:

  • Leadtek unique WinFox Utility is specially design for users to tuning/monitoring the hardware condition of their system.

  • Speed Runner for overclocking the graphics core/memory speed.

  • Information (PCI-Watch) for system information report.

Product Bundle:

  • S-video to RCA Cable, RCA cable, S-video cable

  • WinFox, WinDVD, Speed Runner, Cult3D, Colorific

  • DVI-I Display resolutions support


DVI Resolutions

VGA Resolutions

 

The specification and feature list of the Leadtek Winfast GeForce 3 TD reads like virtually all other GeForce 3s, with a few notable exceptions regarding the maximum TV-Out resolution and the cooling solution.  The specifications also state that there is 4ns memory on board, when in fact it is 3.8ns.  We suspect Leadtek has done this because the default clockspeed (460MHz DDR) is equivalent to a 4ns part (460 / 2 = 230, 1000 / 230 = 4.3).

 

 

The card ships with a decent bundle. Included in the box you will find a CD with all of the necessary drivers and utilities, an S-Video to RCA adaptor, a short S-Video cable and another CD containing the rest of the software bundle. WinDVD, Colorific and Cycore's Cult3D are included as well as Leadtek's own Speed Runner overclocking utility and their WinFox hardware monitoring software.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drivers, Features, Screenshots and Demos

 
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The Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 TD - Page 2

The Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 TD
A Reference Design With Attitude...

By, Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
June 27, 2001

 

Throughout all of our testing, we used the recently released nVidia reference drivers, v12.41.  We installed the drivers provided by Leadtek to briefly test their proprietary WinFox software and Speed Runner overclocking utility.

Drivers, Features, Screen Shots and Demos
nVidia's GeForce3 brings more features to the table...

THE DRIVERS:

                       

                       

If you take a close look at the above screenshots, you'll see that they are cut off at the bottom. This was actually a minor bug we experienced with the included drivers.  To capture images like these, we simply hit our "Print Scrn" button and paste the data into an image editor.  However, when we did this with the drivers included with our Leadtek card, the lower half of the images were scrambled.  When we used the nVidia reference drivers, this problem went away.  The advanced driver options were identical to the reference drivers...we won't bore you with screenshots of those!

Leadtek's WinFox utility not only gives you the ability to monitor hardware conditions like temperature and voltage, but gives you quick access to your display settings via an icon in the system tray.  Leadtek's Speed Runner utility allows for easy overclocking...

Our particular card was a decent overclocker.  We were able to easily hit stable core and memory frequencies of 225MHz and 520MHz respectively.  We've had our card for a relatively short time.  With a little more time to tweak and test, we suspect a higher overclocked speed may have been attainable.

FEATURES / IMAGE QUALITY:

The GeForce 3 chip powering the Leadtek Winfast GeForce 3 TD, brings with it a slew of new features and advances.  Higher levels of visual quality and speed are brought to you courtesy of Pixel and Vertex shaders, a better FSAA method and a revamped memory subsystem.  We've gone more in-depth into these new features in our previous review of the Gigabyte GA-GF3000D.

We've also already posted quite a sampling of screenshots showing off the high quality images the GeForce 3 is capable of producing.  Here a few of them to refresh your memory...

                               
AQUANOX                                                                               DRONEZ

A few screenshots of Echelon with FSAA (1024x768x32) enabled are also in order...

                    
NO FSAA                                                                                2X FSAA
 

                    
Quincunx FSAA                                                                       and 4X FSAA

The GeForce 3 is capable of these high quality images with very high framerates.  With the introduction of newer 3D chipsets, we're inching closer and closer to photo-realistic 3D animation on our desktops!

 

The Board Itself...

 
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The Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 TD - Page 3

The Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 TD
A Reference Design With Attitude...

By, Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
June 27, 2001

Its time to find out how the Winfast GeForce 3 TD performs...
 
Hot Hardware's Pentium !!! Test System
1.0GHz. of Power

 

Abit VP6 (VIA Apollo 133A) with an Intel PIII @ 1GHz

256MB of Mushkin 2-2-2 Rev. 3 RAM

IBM 30Gb ATA100 7200 RPM Hard Drive

Leadtek Winfast GeForce 3 TD 64MB DDR GF3 Graphics Card

Plextor PlexWriter 12/10/32S

Plextor UltraPLEX 40

Adaptec 2940UW Pro SCSI Card

Windows Millennium

Direct X 8.0a and nVidia reference drivers V.12.41

 

Comparison cards used throughout testing:

Gigabyte GV-GF3000 64MB DDR GF3 Graphics Card

 

 

Benchmarks with the Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 TD
DX8 and Video Tests

 
Our first tests were with MadOnion's Video 2000 benchmarking utility.  Video 2000 tests the performance and image quality during video playback.

 

VIDEO 2000:

 

 

The Leadtek Winfast GeForce 3 TD performs right on par with other GeForce 3 based cards we have tested under Video 2000.

 

Image quality during DVD playback was also excellent, rivaling the quality of some hardware decoders.  On a high-end system, anyone would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the GeForce 3 and a true hardware decoder.

 

3D MARK 2001:

 

Let us venture into some "gaming" scores.  Next up is MadOnion's DirectX 8 benchmark utility, 3D Mark 2001.

 

 

The 3D Mark 2001 scores posted by the Leadtek Winfast GeForce 3 TD were great.  If you have not witnessed the added "scenes" visible when running 3D Mark 2001 on a true DirectX 8 compliant video card, you're really missing out.  Not only are the framerates during testing smooth, but the on-screen images are stunning.

We continued the DirectX testing, and ran Massive Development's AquaMark.  AquaMark makes extensive use of DirectX's Pixel and Vertex shaders...

AQUAMARK:

As you can see, they're was no discernable difference in performance between the Leadtek and Gigabyte GeForce 3s.  FYI, the numbers posted by our Gigabyte sample were using the v11.01 reference drivers.

 

 

 

 

Quake 3, More FSAA, Overclocking Aquanox and Dronez Testing

 

 
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The Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 TD - Page 4

The Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 TD
A Reference Design With Attitude...

By, Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
June 27, 2001

Now let us venture into the realm of OpenGL testing...
 
Quake 3 Arena Testing "The GF3 Battle Continues"
Fill rate Rules...

 

We ran the venerable Quake 3's built in Demo001 timedemo at a variety of settings and color depths...

 

QUAKE 3 ARENA:

 

 

Anytime you see 100+ frames per second at a resolution of 1600x1200, you know it's fast.  Virtually all current "high-end" video cards will perform excellently at Quake 3's "Fastest" setting though...lets kick it up a notch...

 

 

Again at Quake 3's "Normal" setting we see great numbers across the board, completely playable at 1600x1200 resolution.  Lets up the ante again though...

 

 

 

Even with Quake 3's visual settings completely maxed out we see fantastic performance form the Leadtek Winfast GeForce 3 TD.  Again we see both GeForce 3 cards attaining almost identical scores.  For the absolute pinnacle of image quality, FSAA must be enabled.  We enabled FSAA while at a resolution of 1024x768x32...

 

 

The new Quincunx FSAA method is a great.  It gives near 4X quality with a much smaller performance hit.  Quake 3 at 1024x768x32 with Quincunx FSAA enabled looks absolutely fantastic and is completely playable at 70 FPS.

 

Overclocking The Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 TD
Don't Go Nuts

As we mentioned earlier, we were able to overclock our Winfast GeForce 3 TD to 225MHz / 520MHz, a significant increase over the default 200MHz / 460MHz.  While overclocked we re-ran the Quake 3 "High Quality" timedemo.

We didn't see a large increase in performance when overclocking the Winfast GeForce 3 TD.  nVidia's new Lightspeed memory architecture helps alleviate the memory bottleneck.  Because of this you won't see the same type of gains when overclocking a GeForce 3 as we did when overclocking the less efficient GeForce 2.  Nonetheless a greater than 10% gain at 1600x1200 is nothing to sneeze at.

 

 

 

 Serious Sam, Dronez and The Heat Meter

 

 
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The Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 TD - Page 5

The Leadtek WinFast GeForce3 TD
A Reference Design With Attitude...

By, Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
June 27, 2001


Some more OpenGL scores...
 
Serious Sam and Dronez Benchmarks
Something New...

 

Serious Sam has a hefty fillrate requirement because of it's high quality textures and large amounts of overdraw.  We ran the "Co Op-Party 4" demo because it is filled with models and has constant action.

 

SERIOUS SAM:

 

 

Once again we see the Winfast GeForce 3 TD exhibiting excellent performance.  Serious same was smooth and playable all the way up to 1280x1024.  Although 41+ frames per second is respectable at 1600x1200, we think that it is just slightly to low to be considered playable.

 

Next up is the Dronez benchmark.  Dronez is a "Next-Gen" OpenGL game that makes use of the advanced features found in the GeForce 3.  There is an insane amount of overdraw and the textures are awesome...

 

DRONEZ:

 

 

We see that Dronez is completely playable all the way up to a resolution of 1600x1200.  That is fantastic considering the quality of the images generated in this test.

 

To really stress the Winfast GeForce 3 TD, we set our resolution to 1024x768 and turned on FSAA...

 

 

Quincunx FSAA is awesome and is perfectly playable at this resolution.  I'm not even going to try and explain how great this game looks with FSAA enabled, it has to be seen to be appreciated.

 

We should also note that throughout our battery of testing, the Leadtek Winfast GeForce 3 TD never locked up or suffered from any incompatibles whatsoever.

 

 

 

Having used the Winfast GeForce 3 TD over the course of the last week or so, we feel it is safe to say Leadtek has a winner on their hands.  The Winfast GeForce 3 TD offers all of the features discriminating gamers are looking for...excellent performance, stability and compatibility.  The slight changes to the reference design, like the oversized cooler and more advanced Conexant encoder, help Leadtek differentiate their product form the rest and at a similar price point to boot.  At a price point hovering in the neighborhood of $375 US this card is not for everybody, but if you're in the market for a high-end video card it would be tough to find a better solution.  We whole heartedly recommend the Leadtek Winfast GeForce 3 TD, and give it a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of...

Are you talkin' to me?  Get into the HotHardware Conference Room!

 

 

 

 

 
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