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Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600!
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Date: Mar 20, 2002
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
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The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600! - Page 1

The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600
The NV25 hits retail shelves!

By - Marco Chiappetta
March 20, 2002

In February 2002, NVIDIA announced their latest flagship GPU, the GeForce 4 Ti 4600.  This new GPU would not only raise the bar in terms of performance, but would also sport a slew of new features.  NVIDIA revamped their Anti-Aliasing engine, and gave it a new name, "Accuview".  They also incorporated the ability to power dual displays simultaneously.  They called this new feature "nView".  The Lightspeed Memory Architecture and nFiniteFX engine introduced with the GeForce 3, had also been reworked for increased efficiency and higher performance, courtesy of a second vertex shader.  If you haven't already done so, we suggest reading our recent launch article, for a detailed analysis of the new GeForce 4s.

When we were initially exposed to the GeForce 4 Ti, we knew there would be a myriad of manufacturers itching to release boards based on the new GPU.  The first manufacturer to do so, is Visiontek.  Two years ago, Visiontek wasn't very well known because they strictly made boards for OEMs.  Visiontek decided to enter the retail market though and in the last year they've come on so strong, that they now have the best selling NVIDIA based graphics boards in the United States.  Let's see what Visiontek was able to do with NVIDIA's latest...

   
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW...

Specifications and Features of the Visiontek GF4 Ti 4600
Pure Titanium
Xtasy GeForce4 Ti 4600:
  • 300MHz GPU
  • VGA, TV In/Out, DV
  • 256-bit Graphics Accelerator
  • 1.23 trillion operations/sec.
  • Lifetime Warranty

Nvidia nfiniteFX II Engine:

  • Dual programmable Vertex Shaders, faster Pixel Shaders and 3D textures give developers the freedom to program a virtually infinite number of custom special effects never seen before and gives you the power to play true-to-life characters in hyper-realistic environments. At twice the performance of GeForce3, Xtasy Ti 4600 delivers the most realistic game play available.

Lightspeed Memory Architecture II:

  • With 128-bit DDR Lightspeed Memory Architecture II provides nearly double the memory bandwidth of GeForce3.

Accuview Antialiasing Engine:

  • High-performance visual quality at high frame rates.

TV In and Out Jack:

  • TV In/Out connector allow you to play on any size TV in your house with an s-video connector.

Requirements:

  • 266 MHz or higher CPU (AMD K6-2 or Intel Pentium II or higher)
  • AGP 2.0 Compliant Socket
  • CD ROM drive
  • Windows 95 OSR2, 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000, XP
  • 64MB of RAM
Specifications:
  • Controller: NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600
  • Bus Type AGP
  • Memory 128MB DDR
  • Core Clock 300MHz
  • Memory Clock 650MHz DDR memory
  • RAMDAC 350MHz
  • API Support Direct-X, Open GL ICD for Windows
  • Connectors VGA, DVI, TV In/Out
  • 1.23 trillion operations/sec.
  • 136 Million triangles/sec setup
  • 10.4GB/second memory bandwidth

Features at a Glance:

  • AGP 4x compatible with fast writes
  • 256-bit 3D and 2D graphics accelerator
  • NVIDIA nView display technologies
  • Lightspeed Memory Architecture II
  • Accuview Antialiasing
  • High Definition Video Processing Engine
  • TV In/Out connectors
  • DVI connector

Package Contains:

  • GeForce4 Ti 4600 Graphics Accelerator
  • Installation Guide
  • Installation CD
  • Install Guide .pdf
  • Demos
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • NVIDIA Unified Driver Architecture
  • Cyberlink PowerDVD
  • Cyberlink PowerDirector
  • ViVo Dongle

THE BUNDLE:

The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600 ships with a decent bundle of software and accessories.  There's nothing included in the box to get overly excited about, but Visiontek isn't exactly stingy either!

   

Bundled with the Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600 is the obligatory driver CD and a "Getting Started" poster that outlines the installation step-by-step.  You'll also find two other CDs included, one is the excellent Cyberlink Power DVD XP and the other is a second Cyberlink product called PowerDirector.  Power DVD is arguably the best software DVD player, and PowerDirector is a capable video editing package.  Visiontek opted to include PowerDirector with their GeForce 4 Ti 4600 because this card has Video-In / Video Out capabilities.  The picture on the right shows the dongle (I love that word) necessary to connect the S-Video cables to your video equipment.  There are few of things we feel were missing from Visiontek's bundle though.  Finding two S-Video to composite video adapters, a DVI to Analog-VGA adapter and perhaps a game or two in the box, would have made the bundle perfect.

Quality, Setup and the Drivers 

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The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600! - Page 2

The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600
The NV25 hits retail shelves!

By - Marco Chiappetta
March 20, 2002

HotHardware regulars know that we like to give every product to arrive in our labs a thorough physical inspection, before installing it into a test rig and running it through our suite of benchmarking apps.

Quality of the Visiontek GF4 Ti 4600
Lot's of NVIDIA hardware!

THE CARD:

     

Our tour around the Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600 begins with a look at the new GPU cooler developed by the folks at NVIDIA.  This new cooler is slightly larger than ones installed on the majority of earlier NVIDIA based video cards.  It's size isn't the only advantage though.  This cooler is shaped with fins that direct airflow from the fan, out of the cooler, towards the RAM.  Having air constantly circulating over the RAM will keep the memory cooler, which should help with overclockability and stability.  Next we see the Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600's external connectors.  On the plate you'll find a standard 15-Pin analog VGA monitor connector, the Video-In / Video-Out socket and a standard DVI connector.  Also notice the analog VGA connector extends back about an inch over the PCB, we suspect to add another layer of shielding over the output filters.  In the third picture, a multitude of capacitors can be seen, as well as the new BGA (Ball Grid Array) packaged DDR RAM.

Memory using BGA packaging is able to hit higher clockspeeds than standard modules, while generating less heat and taking up less real estate on the PCB.  The particular modules found on our Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600 are from Samsung 2.8ns parts, clocked at 650MHz. (325MHz x 2).  If we do a little math though, and divide 1000 by 2.8, we find that technically this memory should be able to hit 357MHz. which equates to 714MHz. DDR.  That should give us some overclocking headroom.  We'll delve into overclocking a little later though.

Installation and Drivers
Anyone can do this...
 
Installing the Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600 was a piece of cake.  We inserted the card into our AGP slot, powered up the system, booted into Windows XP and waited for the "New Hardware Found" dialog box.  We then browsed to the folder where our drivers were located, and one re-boot later we were ready to rock. 

             

                 

We've explored the Detonator XPs in quite a few previous articles, so we won't bore you again with regurgitated details.  The above screenshots show the general driver information tab, D3D, OpenGL, AA and nView settings tabs.  If you've already got an NVIDIA based video card installed in your system, you've probably seen these before, but those who don't may want to check them out and see what they're made of.

As we mentioned on page one, Visiontek bundles Cyberlink's excellent PowerDVD XP with the Xtasy GeForce 4 Ti 4600.

DVD playback using PowerDVD XP was top-notch.  I routinely watch movies on my PC while working or browsing, and have been very happy with the Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600's DVD playback.

The Test Rig, Some Screens & DirectX 8 Benchmarks

 
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The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600! - Page 3

The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600
The NV25 hits retail shelves!

By - Marco Chiappetta
March 20, 2002

Without any image enhancing techniques like Anti-Aliasing enabled, 3D Mark 2001 already stresses modern graphics processors.  3DMark 2001 uses advanced pixel and vertex shaders, as well as bump-mapping to test a card's performance and capabilities.  Lets see if we start a new trend when we up the ante and enable AA.

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

For the Anti-Aliasing tests, we used the "Performance" method available in ATi's drivers (as opposed to the "Quality" method).  NVIDIA's drivers only offer one method.  With 2X AA enabled the Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600 still holds a commanding lead over the 8500LE.  Even with 128MB of memory, the Radeon wasn't able to run at 1600x1200 with AA enabled.  If you go back a page, and look at the Non-AA numbers, you'll see that the GeForce 4 Ti at 1024x768 with 2X AA is actually faster than the 8500LE without AA at the same resolution!

This next test isn't exactly an "apples to apples" comparison.  With the GeForce 4 Ti, NVIDIA has introduced a new DirectX AA method dubbed 4XS.  This new method is similar to 4X AA, but has new sample locations and uses texture filtering to decrease blur as well as jaggies. (See Dave's original GF4 Ti review for a more in-depth explanation).  Needless to say, this new method is more taxing than "regular" 4X AA, but because ATi doesn't offer a similar method.  So, we decided to compared ATi's standard 4X AA to NVIDIA's 4XS AA.  Again we see stellar performance from the Visiontek Ti 4600, with a 3D Mark 2001 score almost double that of the Radeon 8500LE at 1280x1024, and well ahead of the 8500LE at all resolutions.

OpenGL Benchmarks with Quake 3 Arena
OpenGL testing Begins

QUAKE 3 ARENA:

A video card review just wouldn't "feel" right without a batch of Quake 3 numbers, so we ran some benchmarks with John Carmack's creation on both cards.  All of the Quake 3 testing was done with the game configured to it's "High Quality" graphics setting, with Trilinear Filtering and with the Geometry and Texture Quality sliders set to maximum.  The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600 simply cut through Quake 3 like a hot knife though butter, besting the 8500LE by 30FPS at 1024, and almost 50FPS at 1600x1200!  The raw horsepower of the GeForce 4 Ti is awesome.  Its time to crank it up a notch though.

More OpenGL with Quake 3

 
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The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600! - Page 4

The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600
The NV25 hits retail shelves!

By - Marco Chiappetta
March 20, 2002

We left Quake 3 set to the same "High Quality" options as in the previous test, but we enabled AA and tested the cards again at the same resolutions.  Later on we dabbled with Anisotropic filtering as well, and that's when things got very interesting!. 

OpenGL Benchmarks with Quake 3 with AA
More GL Torture

 

The performance delta between these two cards gets even larger when Anti-Aliasing is enabled.  At all resolutions, the GeForce 4 Ti 4600 decimated the 8500LE, as well it should considering it also cost almost 2X the price of the Radeon 8500LE card.  What is most interesting to me is that even at 1600x1200 with 2X AA enabled, the GeForce 4 Ti 4600 is completely playable at just over 70FPS.

NVIDIA claims that through architectural enhancements, the GeForce 4 Ti is now capable of running their Quincunx AA mode at the exact same performance levels of their 2X AA, and they are right, for the most part!  At 1024 and 1280, Quincunx AA was just as fast as 2X AA, but once we hit 1600X1200, things changed a bit and Quincunx lagged behind 2X AA by about 9FPS.  It seems that as more memory bandwidth is used, Quincunx causes a larger performance drop.

Using 4X AA, incredibly the GeForce 4 Ti 4600 more than doubles the performance levels of the Radeon 8500LE at all resolutions.  I'm sure you noticed that both cards appeared to be faster at 1600X1200 with 4X AA than at 1280x1024.  This is due to limitations with both chipsets.  4X AA at 1600x1200 is a little too much for either card to handle, so both cards dropped down to 2X AA to be able to run Quake 3 properly.  NVIDIA has informed us that the 4X AA mode at 1600X1200 resolution is currently non-functional with Quake3 but they plan to fix it soon.

OpenGL Benchmarks with Quake 3 and Anisotropic Filtering
The End is Near!

Up to this point, the Radeon 8500 LE hasn't fared too well against Visiontek's card powered by NVIDIA's flagship GeForce 4 Ti 4600 GPU, but the benchmarks took a dramatic turn once we started testing Quake 3 with Anisotropic filtering enabled (check out this link for a more detailed explanation of how ATi and NVIDIA perform Anisotropic filtering)...

In this test, we enabled 32-Tap Anisotropic filtering in each card's drivers (8X in ATi's drivers, 4X in NVIDIA's).  The GeForce 4 Ti 4600 took an enormous performance hit when Anisotropic filtering was enabled.  The Radeon did slow a bit, but the performance hit was nowhere near as dramatic.  The GeForce 4 Ti dropped about 110FPS at 1280X1024, while the Radeon only dropped about 7FPS!  The performance hit was so significant, the Radeon 8500LE actually outpaced the GeForce 4 Ti 4600 at every resolution!

With 64-Tap Anisotropic filtering enabled (16X in ATi's drivers, 8X in NVIDIA's), the Radeon 8500LE again schooled the GeForce 4 Ti 4600 at every resolution.  It appears that NVIDIA has some major work to do with their drivers before using Anisotropic filtering becomes commonplace on their GPUs.

Some Serious Sam SE...

 
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The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600! - Page 5

The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600
The NV25 hits retail shelves!

By - Marco Chiappetta
March 20, 2002

Next, we ran Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, set the game to OpenGL mode and maxed out the texture and detail quality, to test the Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600. Serious Sam: The Second Encounter uses Croteam's next generation game engine to bring Sam's world to life on your screens.

OpenGL Benchmarks with Serious Sam SE
More GL Action

 
SERIOUS SAM SE:

We used the built-in "Little Trouble" demo to benchmark with Serious Sam: SE.  There are quite a few models and some decent action throughout the demo.  The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600 spreads it's wings in this test as well, significantly outperforming the Radeon 8500LE at every resolution.  We also ran this same test with Anti-Aliasing enabled on both cards.

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

With 2X AA, both cards are slowed, but the Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600 definitely handled itself much better, doubling the Radeon's performance throughout.

With 4X AA enabled, the GeForce 4 Ti doubles the Radeon 8500LE's performance again.  Unlike the Quake 3 tests though, here the GeForce 4 Ti 4600 was able to run Serious Same: SE at 1600x1200 with 4X AA without a problem, while the Radeon defaulted back down to 2X AA.

Overclocking and Final Words

 
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The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600! - Page 6

The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600
The NV25 hits retail shelves!

By - Marco Chiappetta
March 20, 2002 

Unfortunately, being exposed to so much high-end hardware has left us feeling unsatisfied with running most products at their default clockspeeds, no matter how fast it is!  The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600 is exactly the type of product we like to take to the edge.  So what did we do to remedy the situation? We overclocked it, of course.

Overclocking with the Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600
Pushing Hardware to its Limits!

 

By default, the Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600's core is clocked at 300MHz. and the memory is clocked at 650MHz. DDR (325MHz. x 2), but knowing there is always some "headroom", we jacked things up to 315MHz. core / 710MHz. memory and ran 3D Mark 2001 SE again.  As you can see we didn't gain a monumental amount of performance by overclocking the GeForce 4 Ti 4600, but the increase was measurable.  We suspect that coupled with a faster processor or higher bus speed, the gain would have been more significant.

Overall, our experience with the Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600 was a very pleasurable one.  If you sit back and think about it, the GeForce 4 Ti 4600 is a major step forward.  The card not only offers far superior performance over the last generation of cards in most situations, but it also brings more features and image quality enhancements to the table as well.  Besides the major performance hit when Anisotropic filtering was enabled, the only drawback that comes to mind with the GeForce 4 Ti 4600, is the price.  This is one case however, where you DO get what you pay for.  We compared the $375 Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600 to an ATi Radeon 8500LE powered card from Apollo graphics that retails for just under $185, and as the numbers clearly showed, in many cases the GeForce 4 Ti 4600 offered double the performance.  It is up to the individual consumer to decide whether or not they need the kind of power the Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600 provides.  As far as this reviewer is concerned, if you've got the budget and are looking for a powerful gaming card, there is no better choice.  Based on it's exemplary performance and top-notch build quality we give the Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600 a HotHardware Heat Meter rating of...

Get it on in the HotHardware Conference Room Right Now!  We Need Some More Action in There!
 

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The Visiontek GeForce 4 Ti 4600! - Page 7
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