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Leadtek's Winfast GeForce2 GTS
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Date: Dec 15, 2001
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
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Leadtek's Winfast GeForce2 GTS - Page 1

The Leadtek Winfast GeForce2 GTS
The next generation GeForce makes its HotHardware debut

5/5/00

By Dave "Davo" Altavilla

 
Options, that's what typifies the Graphics Card Market at this point in time.  I don't think I have ever seen a time when there were so many 3D Accelerators to choose from.  There are so many different OEM manufacturers with lots of compelling technology to lure you into that next upgrade purchase.  NVidia  has certainly been contributing their fair share of product to the equation with their tireless six month new product introduction cycle.  There is a  ton of competing technology in the 3D Graphics space now and you, the blurry eyed consumer, are left to sort it all out.  What a great problem to have! 

The following is a look at yet another option at your disposal, with respect to your next 3D Graphics Card upgrade.  Taiwan and Fremont, CA based Leadtek Research, offers their Winfast GeForce2 GTS for your consideration.  Here is our take on the latest and greatest that NVidia and Leadtek have to offer.

Specifications / Features Of The Leadtek Winfast GeForce2 GTS

Straight up GeForce2 With Extra Cooling


 
click image for full view

  • .18 Micron Core
  • 200MHz. Core Clock Speed
  • 256-bit Graphics Engine 
  • 32MB DDR memory rated at 6ns.
  • 1.6 GTexel per second throughput
  • 350MHz. Integrated RAMDAC for high resolution support of up to 2048X1536 resolutions
  • Per Pixel Shader 
  • 8 texture-mapped, filtered, lit texels per clock  cycle  with "Hypertexel" Technology 
  • High Definition Video Processor 
  • 2nd-generation T&L Engines 
  • High Performance Hardware Anti-aliasing 
  • Integrated TMDS - Transmission-Minimized Differential Signaling Transmitter
  • Double Data Rate (DDR) Memory 
  • AGP 4X with Fast Writes & Execute Mode 
  • DVD Motion Compensation
  • NTSC/PAL TV output encoding 
  • DVI interface encoding
  • 32-bit color, Z/Stencil buffer
  • Cube Environment Mapping
  • Dot Product 3 Bump Mapping
  • Vertex Skinning 
  • High Quality Texture Filtering, including  Anisotropic 
  • Advanced per-pixel, perspective-correct texturing and shading
  • DirectX Texture Compression Support
  • S3TC Texture Compression Support 
  • DVD playback package
  • Optional TV output and DVI Interface
  • Winfast DVD Software
  • Colorific Monitor Color Calibration Software
  • Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0
  • Windows 98 and Windows 95 display drivers 
We've seen this list of specs before so let's not dwell on it too much.  Suffice it to say that the Leadtek Winfast GeForce2 GTS (wow that's a mouth full) utilizes NVidia's latest graphics power house, the GeForce2 GTS chip.  With a 200MHz. core and a 1.6 Giga Texel Fill Rate, frame rates should be "monster" fast.  NVidia also added support for Full Scene Anti-Aliasing and Environmental Bump Mapping.  They also enhanced the DVD playback features of the chipset.  All told, the GeForce2 GTS is a very well rounded chipset with the best performance specs on paper, available in the market currently.

The Winfast card itself is a fairly well built unit with an excellent cooling solution.  As you can see in the picture above, the card has a very large heat sink and fan combo.  This dissipates heat very well and will add to the ability of overclocking the card.  We'll have more on this later.  Also, the memory used is the Infineon / Siemens DDR SDRAM that we have seen on other DDR GeForce cards in the past.  Here is a shot of one of the chips.

My apologies for that shot being a little blurry but so was the reviewer at the time it was taken.  ;-)  In any event, the Winfast GeForce2 GTS is a fairly straight forward reference design approach with a very nice active cooling setup as an additional bonus.  Our card came with VGA output only but there are versions that support DFI (Digital Flat Panel) and TV Out.

 

It's plug and play time folks!

 

Setup, Installation, Drivers and Screen Shots

 
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Leadtek's Winfast GeForce2 GTS - Page 2

The Leadtek Winfast GeForce2 GTS
The next generation GeForce makes its HotHardware debut

5/5/00

By Dave "Davo" Altavilla

 
Installation / Setup Of The Winfast GeForce2 GTS
A little finicky
 
The Winfast GeForce2 GTS card was very cooperative with our i820 test-bed ( the Soyo SY-6ICA motherboard) and installed within minutes.  We also tried to set the card up on a BX chipset based board, the SY-6BA+IV from Soyo (our secondary test bed for the Voodoo5 preview) but the card would lock up after a few frames of a Quake3 time demo.  This inevitably happened at any AGP bus speed setting, even the specified 66MHz.  We finally set the AGP aperture in the motherboard BIOS to 16K and were able to complete a loop but it was very slow with this setting. 

This may be an isolated case with this motherboard, we are not sure.  Regardless, this problem should be easily remedied with a BIOS revision for the Winfast.  Hopefully Leadtek will be diligent about following up on this quickly.  In addition, we will update this review with benchmarks and ratings should we get our hands on a BIOS patch in the coming weeks.  Let's move onto the good stuff.

As noted, the i820 based system installation was uneventful and the drivers were very familiar.

click for full view

The Leadtek drivers we used for testing were based on the NVidia 5.16 release.  They support full scene Anti-Aliasing (OpenGL only at this time) and as well as a host of other features for tweaking your display on your desktop, in a game or with the Video Overlay for a TV Tuner card etc.  In addition, the Winfast drivers fully support overclocking of the card and as you can see, overclock it we did!  More on this later.  Leadtek's "Speed Runner" menu lets you adjust core and memory speed.

click for full view

Yes, that is indeed a GeForce2 GTS chip in there isn't it?


A Few Words and Pictures On FSAA The NVidia Way

We won't spend too much time on this section either since it has been covered extensively online by a number of sites including Hot Hardware.  Instead we'll let the screen shots speak for themselves.

Click images for full viewing

Quake3 No FSAA

Quake3 FSAA

Quake3 NVidia High Polygon Level

Quake3 NVidia High Polygon Level

Original TGAs - File sizes are approx. 1.3MB each
Quake3 No FSAA
Quake3 FSAA
Quake3 NVidia Level w/ FSAA Shot1
Quake3 NVidia Level w/ FSAA Shot2

Screen shots and the FSAA debate (NVidia versus 3dfx) are totally subjective.  I personally feel after experiencing both 3dfx's 2X and 4X FSAA and NVidia's FSAA, that NVidia's FSAA is about on par with 3dfx's 2X setting.  Actually, in some cases, I like the 3dfx 2X version even a little better.  Again, this is very subjective so you'll have to judge for yourself.

One area that is very impressive is the high polygon count demo that NVidia did for the GeForce2 release.  These shots show the level of detail and a quick view of things to come with games that can and will be released in the near future.  Developers will take advantage of all this new horsepower being brought to market by the Graphics Card industry.  It is a beautiful thing, literally.
 

 

What else?  Benchmarks!

 
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Leadtek's Winfast GeForce2 GTS - Page 3

The Leadtek Winfast GeForce2 GTS
The next generation GeForce makes its HotHardware debut

5/5/00

By Dave "Davo" Altavilla

 
HotHardware's Test System
The usual performance rig...

Full Tower ATX Case w/ 300W PS, Pentium III 866EB,  Soyo SY-6ICA i820 Motherboard 128MB of  800MHz (400MHz. DDR) RDRAM, WD Expert AC418000 7200 RPM ATA66 Hard Drive, Kenwood 72X CDROM, Leadtek Release Drivers based on NVidia version 5.16, Win 98SE, DirectX 7.0a

 
Benchmarks With The Winfast GeForce2 GTS
What she's got!

 

Set back at the card's default clock speed, we decided to see what impact Full Scene Anti-Aliasing has on the GeForce2 GTS as well as larger textures. 

Quake3 Arena

Again, impressive scores to say the least with FSAA turned off.  In 16 bit color FSAA is very playable even at 1024X768.  However, in the 32 bit color scores, you can see that FSAA takes its toll.  Again, I tend to compare 2X FSAA scores on the Voodoo5 PREview to the FSAA scores here because I feel the image quality is comparable.  You may not feel this way with respect to the image quality of both cards, so come to your own conclusions.  Regardless, if you want FSAA on the GeForce2 GTS currently, you will most likely have to revert back to 16 bit color.

Let's see what impact large textures have on the Winfast GeForce2 GTS.  We took the Texture Resolution Slider in Quake3 Arena and set it to maximum. 

As you can see here, using high texture detail in Quake3 arena barely puts a dent in the scores.  Two to Three frames per second, on average, is the penalty at the higher resolutions.  I say, turn the eye candy up to full and enjoy! 

 

So, now you that you have seen what a released, production ready GeForce2 card from a real NVidia OEM can do, what do you think?  Sure, there have been plenty of NVidia reference card reviews out there but you can't buy a reference card, can you?  Our take on the Leadtek Winfast GeForce2 GTS and the chip that drives it, is that it has a lot of promise.  However, clearly this card still needs a little polishing with respect to compatibility across multiple platforms.  This is not unusual for NVidia based products we have tested in the past.  A few BIOS and driver revisions later, things tend to iron out pretty well.  It is your choice, you can dive in now and take your chances or wait and see how things develop.  We will of course keep you updated on the status of the Winfast GeForce2 GTS and if things improve, we'll revise this review and the rating.


Update 5/16/00

As we had suspected, the Leadtek card we received about 2 weeks ago was still a little bit rough around the edges.  This was no surprise with all of the scrambling there has been in the 3D Graphics Market, to get new products out the door before the competition.  Leadtek sent us out a newer revision of the Winfast GeForce2 GTS which eliminated any incompatibilities and instability we had experienced with the two BX chipset based motherboards, we had tested it in previously.

We were able to run the Winfast in both the Soyo Sy-6BA+IV and Abit BE6 Motherboards we have here in the Hot Hardware Lab.  At this point in time, it seems as if this card will only tolerate a 66 MHz. AGP bus within specifications.  When tried to run at an FSB higher than 100MHz., the card would still lock up in testing.  However you need to remember, that there are other NVidia and other manufacturer cards on the market today, that will not tolerate this.  Also, the BX chipset does not officially support the PC133 spec and with its 1/1 or 2/3 divider, thus overclocks the AGP bus at anything above 100MHz.  It really depends on the manufacturer and sometimes even the model of the card, whether or not it will handle this type set up.  Again, perhaps a BIOS revision will improve this for the Winfast in the future.

Here are scores we took on what we would call a fairly "mainstream system" with a Pentium !!! on a 100MHz. FSB @ 600MHz. with the Abit BE6 Intel BX Chipset based Motherboard.  These scores were taken at the High Quality Setting with  Maximum Texture Quality.

Again, these are impressive numbers all around for the Winfast GeForce2 GTS.  A few of you in our Hot Hardware audience, were interested in knowing how the card will perform on a lower end system.  While the P3-600 and BX chipset is no slouch, you can see here what a "budget box" can do with the GeForce2.  Not too shabby at all.

With these better results on our BX testbed, we decided to revise our rating of the Winfast GeForce2 GTS.  The score below is reflective of this update.


For now, NVidia has a leg up in the battle for Frame Rate Dominance but clearly 3dfx seems to have FSAA nailed down a little better.  We think there are obvious advantages to both competing technologies.  However, your personal preference and gaming needs should come into play when making your decision on what will be your next graphics upgrade.  Keep in mind boards from various vendors and chipset manufacturers are just now being released.  There is a lot to choose from and that is a great problem to have.

We give the Leadtek Winfast GeForce2 GTS a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of....

 

Talk about this review in the HotHardware Conference Room!

To HotHardware!

 
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