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VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti4400
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Date: Apr 09, 2002
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
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The VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti4400 - Page 1

The VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti 4400
Compelling performance without the price tag

By -Dave Altavilla
April 9, 2002

 

If variety is the "spice of life", then it is safe to say that NVIDIA is cooking up some "Three Alarm Chili" these  days and it's guaaaaraaaanteed (insert thick Cajun Bayou accent here), to make you thirsty for a cool drink of 3D polygon pushing refreshment.  There are so many flavors of GeForce4 product in the retail channel, the unsuspecting consumer could get down right befuddled at the myriad of choices and performance levels, offered by the various incarnations of NVIDIA's GeForce4.  Mind you, we're not complaining about this situation with NVIDIA product.  After all, that's what keeps on line publications, like HotHardware.com, in business.  We're here to sort things out for you, tell it like it is and hopefully, as a result, you'll be able to make a somewhat informed decision on your next graphics card purchase, or any new system upgrade for that matter.  On the flip side however, just think what it might be like in our shoes, trying to sort out all the features, specifications and target markets for each of these new products.  You think you're confused?  Pass the pitcher of Margaritas please.  I just got singed by some of life's spice, if you know what I mean.

Now let's think of this from a manufacturing perspective.  For NVIDIA, as a chip supplier, speed bins and branding are as simple as changing a silk screen on a part marking, before boxing a part up for shipment.  Perhaps that scenario is a bit of over an simplification but with today's fully automated assembly and test environments, it's not too far off the mark.  On the other hand, from a third party OEM like VisionTek's perspective, keeping track of all those SKU codes in the channel and more importantly, finished goods inventory levels, can be a bit of a juggling act, one that will drive the corporate "Bean Counters" crazy.  Regardless, in today's competitive environment at the retail level, if you can gain an edge by having a price point that will catch the end user's eye, then it's "game, set and match", you won. 

That's what this next product on the HotHardware.com test bench, is all about.  The VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti4400 comes in at a price point well below the average Ti4600 card, yet utilizes the same GeForce4 graphics chip, with the exception of a lower core clock speed and slower speed bin DDR SDRAM chips.  So, just where does this spicy addition to NVIDIA's pot of Three Alarm Graphics Chili fit in?  We'll show you the detail and numbers and then let you make the call.

Specifications and Features of the XTasy GeForce4 Ti 4400
A card and some drivers, nothing too exciting but the focus is on value

   

VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti 4400
  • 275MHz GeForce 4 Ti GPU
  • VGA, TV In/Out, DV
  • 256-bit Graphics Accelerator

Nvidia nfiniteFX II Engine:

  • Dual programmable Vertex Shaders, faster Pixel Shaders

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 and stunning visual quality at high frame rates.

TV Out Jack:

  • On-board TV-out supports both RCA and S-video up to 1024x768 resolution.

Cooling solution:

  • on-board active heat-sink cooling fan
Specifications:
  • Controller: NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600
  • Bus Type AGP
  • Memory 128MB DDR
  • Core Clock 275MHz
  • Memory Clock 550MHz DDR memory
  • RAMDAC 350MHz
  • API Support Direct-X, Open GL ICD for Windows
  • Connectors VGA, DVI, TV In/Out
  • 1.12 Trillion operations/sec.
  • 125 Million triangles/sec
  • 8.8GB/sec 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 Out connector
  • DVI connector

Package Contains:

  • XTasy GeForce4 Ti 4400 Graphics Card
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Installation CD and NVIDIA Drivers
  • Cyberlink Power DVD
  • Cyberlink PowerDirector
     

In a word, "spartan".  This would best describe the bundle that comes with the VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti 4400.  There are two CDs in the box, one for the drivers and manuals and another for Cyberlink's Power DVD and Power Director.  Power DVD, as you may already be aware, is one of the best Software DVD Player packages for the PC on the market.  Power Director is Cyberlink's video desktop editing software bundle.  It too is very adept at what it does and is very easy to use.  Other than that, the XTasy Ti4400 is all by itself in the box.  However, that is plenty in our opinion.  The hardware is where it is at with this package.

    

 

NVIDIA's reference design was utilized in almost every facet of this product.  Even the Heat Sink and Fan assembly is the NVIDIA design that we've seen on GeForce4 MX products.  This cooler does an excellent job at keeping the GPU cool as well as blowing air across the RAM chips, keeping them cool in the process, without the need for individual sinks on the RAM components.  Speaking of the RAM chips, the Samsung DDR SDRAM chips that VisionTek used on this board, are rated at 3.6ns or 550MHz.  However, they could be capable of a little better than that and we'll show you more in our overclocking section, as well as what the GPU can handle.

Finally, the Conexant line of Video Encoders have also been in production with NVIDIA boards for quite a while.  These chips provide all of the TV-Out interface logic that the GeForce4 needs to support this function.  A standard TV display, driven off this card, works fairly well.  However, the quality is best suited for gaming versus business work, like Power Point presentations and such.

Let's fire things up.

 Setup, Overclocking and Screen Shots 

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The VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti4400 - Page 2

The VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti 4400
Compelling performance without the price tag

By -Dave Altavilla
April 9, 2002

 

We aren't going to bother covering the drivers for this card.  You've seen them several times here in previous articles.

Setup and Installation of the VistionTek GeForce4 Ti4400
Piece of cake

These days, what could be easier than setting up a new graphics card?  We really have no earth shattering details to bestow upon you here.  Users simply uninstall the drivers for their old graphics card, power down the system, install the GF4 Ti 4400, power up and feed the OS the new VisionTek driver CD, when the auto install asks for a driver.  At that point, you are in business.  Setup of the VisionTek GeForce4 Ti4400 was quick and painless with not even so much as a glitch to report.

The drivers that came with our card were based on the NVIDIA 27.51 driver release.  Since our recent testing with NVIDIA product has been with version 27.50, we used that driver for our benchmarks.  Recently, NVIDIA released version 28.32 but at the time of testing, these drivers were not available.

 
Screenshots
NVIDIA's Grace Demo

We're back with more NVIDIA "eye candy" in this segment.  One of the benefits of having seemingly unlimited resources like a company NVIDIA's size, is that they can really dig in and "evangelize" a new product or feature.  Well, since we're sipping a little NVIDIA Cool-Aid here so to speak, let's have a look at some renderings of NVIDIA's "Grace" Technology Demo on the VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti4400. Here is what NVIDIA has to say about their "Grace" Technology Demo:

"The dancer uses NVIDIA?s nfiniteFX II Engine to add motion to her body, bumps to her face, sparkles to her dress, and variation to the bubbles. Her body animates and bends using Vertex Shaders, freeing the CPU to calculate the cloth and bubble physics.  The second-generation Pixel Shaders of the nfiniteFX II Engine are used to add her reflective engravings and give detailed bumps to her face. Point sprites are used for the bubbles and 3D textures are used for animating the sparkles on her dress."

   

Stunning visuals for sure are shown here, courtesy of next generation 3D Graphics Processors, like the VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti 4400.  To see this NVIDIA created dancer in motion on your PC monitor, is really an impressive demonstration of the technology.  She moves as smoothly and fluidly as she looks.  It must be a great time to be a game developer with tools like the GeForce4 Ti4400 at your disposal.

2D Desktop Image Quality:

Just a quick comment here on 2D desktop image quality.  For a while we were skipping this section in general because decent 2D quality for desktop work is almost a given.  However, all cards are not created equal here.  Components selection especially with respect to filtering of video signals, is essential for decent 2D output at high refresh rates and resolutions.  The VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti4400 did not disappoint here and images were stable and crisp all the way up to 1600X1200 on our 22" Mitsubishi test monitor.

 

Overclocking The VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti 4400
Ti 4600 speeds and slightly beyond

In this section, we intend to show you just what top end over-clocked speed the VisionTek Ti 4400 board could hit, with good stability an no visual artifacts.

With just a simple adjustment of the clock slide in the NVIDIA "clock frequencies" tab, when activated by the "coolbits" registry tweak, we were suddenly at GeForce4 Ti 4600 performance levels and even a little beyond, with full stability.  Again, our standard disclaimer applies here.  Your results may vary as all boards in production may not yield identical results.  This was just our personal experience with the product.

Test Setup, Quake 3 With and Without AA and Anisotropic Filtering

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The VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti4400 - Page 3

The VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti 4400
Compelling performance without the price tag

By -Dave Altavilla
April 9, 2002

 

 

Croteam's Serious Sam, The Second Encounter is an OpenGL or DirectX based game title with many leading edge graphics effects and high resolution textures.  We ran our tests in OpenGL mode.

Serious Sam and Novalogic's Comanche 4
How does VisionTek's GeForce4 Ti4400 stand up?
 

 

As you can see, the ATi Radeon 8500 significantly closes that gap here between itself and the NVIDIA Ti 4400 and Ti 4600 based cards, in this test.  We're not exactly sure why the Radeon 8500 does so much better in this test but clearly, even though OpenGL titles have not been ATi's strong suit until recently, the field is much tighter in this horse race.  Here we see a 7% advantage at 1280X1024 and 18% advantage at 1024X768 for the VisionTek GeForce4 Ti 4400, versus the Radeon 8500.  Additionally, the Ti 4400 card is within 8% of its big brother Ti 4600 card. 

Novalogic's Comanche 4 Benchmark
Direct 3D Testing on a leading edge Flight Sim

Here's a benchmark that we have been waiting for here in the HotHardware Labs for a long time.  Although it is a bit of a "CPU hog", Novalogic's Comanche 4 Benchmark Demo is one of the better Direct 3D benchmarks (besides the esteemed MadOnion's 3DMark) we have seen in a long time.

We ran two resolutions, as you can see in this graph, 1280X1024 and 1600X1200, both in 32 bit color with maximum detail.  Even with a 2.2GHz Pentium 4 Northwood driving the polygons in this test, the variances between the two GeForce4 cards, are minimal.  If you are a fan of this game engine, you might as well save a few pennies and go with a Ti4400 card like the VisitonTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti4400.  It will run nearly as fast as a Ti4600 based card with this great looking Chopper Sim... and then of course, you can always over-clock it.

 

3DMark 2001SE, More FSAA, Overclocking and The Rating

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The VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti4400 - Page 4

The VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti 4400
Compelling performance without the price tag

By -Dave Altavilla
April 9, 2002

 

MadOnion's 3DMark 2001SE is one of the most comprehensive and reliable Direct 3D Benchmarks available today.  It measures overall systems performance while focusing on the graphics subsystem and it's capabilities with leading edge 3D rendering functions, such as pixel and vertex shading.

MadOnion's 3DMark 2001SE
DirectX 8.1 performance with Remedy's Max Payne Engine
 

 

Besting the Radeon 8500 by over 2000 3DMarks, at 1280X1024, the VisionTek GeForce4 Ti 4400 really shows its muscle.  What is probably more interesting is the fact that the Ti4400 driven XTasy card is within 4 - 6% of the Ti 4600 reference card with 3DMark 2001 SE.  With a significantly lower price tag, as much as $80 less than a comparable VisionTek Ti 4600 card, the Ti 4400 product is showing its place in the market.

3DMark 2001SE Anti-Aliasing Performance
Stress testing with AA

Let's turn on 4X FSAA, which is harsh treatment for any graphics card with this benchmark suite.

Here again we see the same trend in memory bandwidth and fill rate, with the Ti 4600 widening it's lead over the Ti4400 based VisionTek card, to an approximately 10% advantage.  The rest of the numbers speak for themselves.

 

Overclocking The VisionTek XTasy GeForce4 Ti 4400
Where you really get bang for your buck

Well then, you've seen that we were able to get the core clock on this Ti 4400 card running stable at 305MHz and the memory stable at 675MHz.  These clock speeds are slightly higher than stock Ti 4600 levels.  Here's what that extra guard band that VisionTek built into their product, can afford you in incremental performance.


You've got to love the fine art of over-clocking.  Here we see our roughly $250 Ti 4400 card actually beat out the roughly $330 Ti 4600 card.  Of course, the Ti 4600 could indeed over-clock as well and leave all cards behind in this test... but you knew that.  Getting more for your dollar, that's what over-clocking is all about.  Again at these clock speeds, our particular card was stable and graphically glitch-free.  Your personal results could vary.  Keep out of reach of children.  In case of accidental ingestion.... err.. wait a minute.  Wrong warning label there, sorry.  ;-)

 

You'll recall we were talking about "price points" and other marketing strategies with respect to this somewhat saturated market segment, we call PC Graphics.  In this regard, the question we kept asking ourselves was, "does this product really differentiate itself"?  Unfortunately it is hard to say at this time.  Performance was excellent and within 10 - 15% on average of it's higher end counterpart, the GeForce4 Ti 4600.  In addition, our sample was capable of over-clocking well into Ti 4600 specifications.  With that in mind, it seems hard to justify the premium you would have to pay for a Ti 4600 card versus this VisionTek Ti 4400.  Then there is of course perhaps the even more impressive, from a price/performance ratio standpoint, GeForce4 Ti 4200.  We'll be looking into the details on that card shortly here at HotHardware as well.

So you see, things can get pretty complicated when it comes to answering the question of which graphics card is the right one for you.  In the end, we'll leave it up for you to decide, based on price and the performance and features of the product we showcased for you here.  The VisionTek GeForce4 Ti 4400 we feel is worthy of a heat meter rating of a very solid "9".  It fits nicely between the high end NVIDIA Ti 4600 based offering and the budget Ti 4200.

 

 Come get some in the HotHardware PC Hardware Forum, now!

 

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