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Leadtek GeForce 3 Ti500 TD
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Date: Dec 15, 2001
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
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The Leadtek GeForce 3 Ti500 TD - Page 1

The Leadtek WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TD...
Yes, There is a Video Card Under all that Metal!

By, Marco Chiappetta
November 15, 2001

Here we are again, in the same predicament we have found ourselves in many times before.  With the release of a "new" NVIDIA GPU, inevitably comes an onslaught of cards all based on a standard reference design.  The up side to this "situation" is that all of the cards based on the reference design have gone through a rigorous testing regimen to insure compatibility, stability and performance.  The down side is that it becomes increasingly more difficult to distinguish one product from another as more and more brand-name cards hit store shelves.

Manufacturers are left with the daunting task of differentiating their cards in a sea of similar products that all look, perform and cost roughly the same.  Leadtek thinks they are up to the task, and have introduced two cards based on the NVIDIA GeForce 3 Ti500...the WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TD and the WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TDH.  The card we'll be looking at today is the "TD" model.  We've got a lot to cover, so let's jump right in and see if Leadtek's spin on the GeForce 3 Ti500 is worth spending your hard earned money on...

Specifications Of The Leadtek WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TD
A Ti500 with some extra metal...

       
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

Leadtek WinFast GF3 Ti 500:
  • NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 500 nfiniteFX (tm) GPU
  • On Board 64MB - 3.8ns DDR Memory
  • 8.0 GB/sec memory bandwidth
  • Core / Memory speed 240/500 MHz
  • Lightspeed Memory Architecture
  • 350 MHz RAMDAC
  • AGP 4X/2X, AGP texturing and Fast Write support
  • Programmable Vertex Shader
  • Shadow Buffer Technology support
  • 3D textures support
  • Microsoft DirectX 8.1 and OpenGL 1.3 support
  • High-Performance Hardware Antialiasing (HRAA)
  • On-board DVI support
  • On-board TV-out support up to 1024x768 resolution
  • DVD software included
  • Drivers Support for Win 9X, ME, 2K and XP
  • Leadtek WinFox system utility
  • 2 Full Games Bundled (DroneZ and Gunlok)

Leadtek Value-Added features:

  • 64MB 3.8ns Memory onboard
  • Support RCA & S-video TV-out
  • Special Designed Active Cooling Module
  • 2 Full Games Bundled (DroneZ and Gunlok)

DVI Display Resolutions Supported:

 
Display Resolutions Supported:

THE BUNDLE:

 

Leadtek has included some excellent software and accessories with the WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TD.

 

In the box you'll find a standard composite (RCA type) video cable, an S-Video cable and an S-Video to composite adapter.  If you plan on using the TV-Out function, you won't need to purchase any additional adapters to get this card connected to your VCR or television...unless of course your using an ancient TV that is only equipped with an F-Type connector.

 

A slew of software is also included with the Leadtek WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TD.  There is a CD containing all of the necessary drivers needed to get the card functioning.  On this CD you'll also find Leadtek's "WinFox" software suite and "Speed Runner" software that give users the ability to tweak many of the card's settings.  Some third party applications are also bundled with the "TD", including Cycore's CULT 3D, Colorific and the excellent WinDVD 2000.  So far, so good.  The surprise came when we found two full version games in the box, Dronez and Gunlok!  Many enthusiasts claim the power of the GF3 goes to waste without games that take advantage of the new features.  Well, Leadtek is trying to negate that argument...

 

 

The Card, it's Drivers and Other Features

 
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The Leadtek GeForce 3 Ti500 TD - Page 2

The Leadtek WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TD...
Yes, There is a Video Card Under all that Metal!

By, Marco Chiappetta
November 15, 2001

THE CARD:

Every product that enters the HotHardware labs gets a thorough physical inspection before it is installed into one of our test rigs...

           

The "TD" version on the Leadtek WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 is equipped with TV-Out as well as a DVI connector (hence the TD).  There is also a "TDH" version of the card that adds hardware monitoring capabilities.  The TV-Out on the Leadtek WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TD is a cut above most other cards thanks to the Conexant CX25871 TV encoder.  The CX25871 is capable of outputting to a television at a resolution of 1024x768, while the majority of competing products only output up to 800x600.  Score 1 for Leadtek...

           

The oversized cooling solution is just begging to be talked about.  There are quite a few things that need to be mentioned.  First, notice that the fan sits in the center of the large heatsink, not directly over the GPU.  The fan is just slightly raised, allowing the blades to blow air directly at the center of the GPU and out across the memory.  The heatsink is held in place with two plastic spring clips, and has a lip that curves over the top of the PCB.  Normally we would remove the cooler included on a video board to check what type of thermal interface material is being used, but we didn't have to with the WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500.  Why? You ask...Well, if you look closely at the last picture, you can see the thermal paste applied to memory!  This is the first GeForce 3 that we have seen that exclusively uses thermal paste for both the memory and GPU.  We were very happy to see Leadtek took this extra step to insure their cooling solution would work more efficiently.

Installation / Setup Of The Leadtek WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TD
Piece of cake...

 

Installing the Leadtek WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 is just like any other plug-and-play video card.  Insert the card into your AGP slot, install the drivers and you're up and running...

 

 

You'll be sure your card is working properly when you see the initial boot-up splash screen going through it's self check and counting off the memory.

 

THE DRIVERS:

 

The drivers included on the CD-ROM were version 21.81 of NVIDIA's standard reference drivers.

 

    

 

We have posted screenshots of these drivers multiple times, so we won't bore you with them again.  We did encounter one problem with the included drivers we must mention though.  Anytime we tried to access the Device Selection or Color Correction tabs, we received the above error.  We won't hold too much against Leadtek for this bug though, once we updated the drivers to the version 21.85s we used for testing, the problem went away.

 

Overclocking with the Leadtek WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TD
Not what we hoped...

 

The WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TD is bundled with Leadtek's "WinFox" suite.  WinFox consists of quite a few utilities that allow you to tweak man aspects of the card from gamma correction to overclocking.

 

 

The Overclocking portion of the suite is called "Speed Runner".  Speed runner is a very simple tool that give you the ability to adjust core and memory clockspeeds with a simple slider.

 

 

By default, the Leadtek WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TD is clocked at 240MHz. core and 500MHz. (DDR) memory...just like every other Ti500.  We spent some time overclocking our card and were able to hit maximum speeds of 266MHz. / 571MHz.  These are some very high numbers, but we have to admit we were expecting more.  We've seen standard GeForce 3s hit speeds almost as high as this.  With the enhanced cooling found on the Leadtek card, we assumed we'd see speeds a bit higher.

 

It's MadOnion Time!

 
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The Leadtek GeForce 3 Ti500 TD - Page 3

The Leadtek WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TD...
Yes, There is a Video Card Under all that Metal!

By, Marco Chiappetta
November 15, 2001

We have one more set of 3D Mark 2001 tests to report on.  This time, we set the resolution to 1024x768 and enabled all three anti-aliasing methods available...

More 3D Mark 2001 Benchmarks
DirectX Performance

 

 

With AA enabled, 3D Mark 2001 looked fantastic, but it slowed a bit too much with 4X AA enabled.  Quincunx is definitely our preferred method, as it looks about as good as 4X, but with performance similar to 2X.

 

Next up we benchmarked the Leadtek WinFast GF3 Ti500 TD using the DirectX shooter, Max Payne.  Max Payne uses the same Max-FX engine that powers 3D Mark 2001.

 

Max Payne
Max is the man!

MAX PAYNE:

Max Payne does not have a "built-in" timedemo utility, so we used the time demos that were recorded by the good folks at 3D Center.  Using their mod and demos allowed us to obtain an average frame rate from a recorded gaming session.  The WinFast Ti500 TD and NVIDIA reference boards performed identically.

Quake 3 Arena
Very Old Faithful...

OK, it's time to move onto some OpenGL numbers.  As usual, Quake 3 has to make an appearance...

QUAKE 3 ARENA:

I think I'm going to rename Quake 3's "Fastest" setting to the "Ugly" setting! :)  Performance was stellar, but the game sure doesn't look good.  For the first time we see the reference board inch ahead, but for all intent and purposes both cards performed the same.  Let's crank the quality up a notch...

We turned all the visual options to maximum and were pleased to see Quake 3 remain playable at all resolutions.  How great is it to say, "1600x1200" is the sweet spot!   Never happy with "stock" performance, we decided to overclock the WinFast Ti500 TD again and ran the same set of Quake 3 numbers...

Overclocking the card gained us a few FPS at high resolutions.  It obvious that Quake 3 can't tax a video card like it once could.  Let's turn the quality up another notch and enable anti-aliasing...

 

More Quake3 and The Rating

 
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The Leadtek GeForce 3 Ti500 TD - Page 4

The Leadtek WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TD...
Yes, There is a Video Card Under all that Metal!

By, Marco Chiappetta
November 15, 2001

Let's continue the OpenGL testing with another round of Quake 3...this time with Anti-Aliasing enabled...

Quake 3 Arena
More at 32 Bit Color with AA

Even with all the graphical options maxed out, Quake 3 remains playable at 1024x768 with 4X AA enabled.  Remember to turn on anisotropic filtering to reduce the blurriness associated with some types of anti aliasing!

Anisotropic filtering turns this...

...into this.  Big difference isn't it?

Keep in mind these screenshots, taken at 1024x768x32 with Quincunx AA enabled,
are compressed JPEGs.  Actual "in-game" image quality is even better.

There are only so many Quake 3 timedemos a man can run without going crazy.  It's time to move on...

VulpineGL OpenGL
More Goodness...

VULPINE GLMARK:

Vulpine simulates an OpenGL gaming environment using it's own "game" engine, with highly detailed indoor and outdoor environments.  As expected, we saw similar performance between both cards at all resolutions.

Dronez OpenGL
32 Bit Color with Shaders

The great thing about running the Dronez benchmark with the Leadtek WinFast GF3 Ti500 TD, is that after I was done, I could actually play the game with the included CD! :)

Dronez is an OpenGL based title developed by Zetha Gamez.  Dronez uses the advanced shader capabilities of the GeForce 3.  Here is an excerpt of what features are actually used...

  • High polycount featuring extremely smooth characters, objects and detail of the environment
     
  • Exploiting of four texture units for custom lighting effects combined with multitexturing and custom, glossy bump mapping w/texture shaders and special effects.
     
  • Use of (a big amount of) Vertex Programs not only to achieve better performance on the usual tasks like skinning and animation, but also to help achieving our unique custom illumination system
     
  • Texture-Shaders for high quality per-pixel, per-light bump-mapping

There is also an optimized software only pipeline for older video boards that don't have the same shader capabilities as the GeForce 3.  We ran though a round of benchmarks at 32-Bot color using the "GeForce 3 Bump" settings...

DRONEZ:

Once again, we see identical performance between the Leadtek board and NVIDIA's reference card.  Notice that even with a more "advanced" title like Dronez the game remains playable all the way through 1600x1200.

The Leadtek WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TD is a top notch product, with a top notch bundle.  At a time when differentiating your product from the masses is next to impossible, Leadtek succeeds on all fronts.  Although the underlying board is similar to all other GeForce 3 Ti500s, the enhanced cooling makes the WinFast Ti500 TD physically unique.  When you open the package and find two full version games, a quality software DVD decoder, a suite of "custom" utilities along with all of the cables and adapters necessary to take full advantage of your card's extra features, you'll know you purchased a board from a company who put a lot of thought into their product.  We thoroughly enjoyed our experience working with the Leadtek WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 and would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a high performance gaming card.  It's not cheap (it can be found for approximately $310 on Pricewatch), but you certainly get what you pay for.  We give the Leadtek WinFast GeForce 3 Ti500 TD a HotHardware Heat Meter Rating of...

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You Waiting For!  Get In There Now!

 

 
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