What self respecting PC
Enthusiast wouldn't take a brand new graphics card
technology and push it to its limits? Well, perhaps
there are a few conservative types out there that would
rather take the "in warranty" and stable path of stock clock
speeds. The HotHardware Team however, like many in our
field, takes pride in exploring the outer limits of new
hardware that hits our labs. In this quick analysis,
we plan to show you just what the GeForce4 Ti 4600 can do
with a little help from the "coolbits" clock frequency
control panel tab. We didn't perform any crazy
over-the-top modifications to our GeForce4 Ti4600 either.
Rather, we intended to show you a simple setup and overclock
that can be achieved by the average user without too much
Now, with that
said, we'll insert our standard disclaimer here. As if
you didn't know, overclocking voids your warranty and all
GeForce4 cards are not created equal. Our experiences
here will be somewhat typical, if you were to work with a
GeForce4 Ti 4600 card based on the nVidia reference design
with the same stock heat sink / fan combo and card cooler
setup we used. Speaking of which, let's give you a
feel for the simplicity of our setup and how it works.
HotHardware's Test System
Northwood and the i850 w/ RDRAM
NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600
Reference Design Card (identical to the
Visiontek GeForce4 Ti 4600)
Pentium 4 Northwood CPU -
Abit TH7II-RAID - i850 (The ever fabulous
Abit P4 i850 board - HotHardware's Official P4 board of
Zalman FB-165 Cooling Fan -
Available at Plycon
512MB of Samsung PC800
Dual IBM 30 Gig Drives -
Sound Blaster Live Value
Windows XP Professional
Direct X 8.1 (standard with
NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600
128MB Reference Card
NVIDIA Detonator 4
reference drivers version 27.30
Intel chipset drivers
Nothing fancy but
Click images for full viewing
GeForce4 Ti 4600
Zalman FB-165 Card Cooler
Zalman FB-165 Card Cooler
335/750 Max Overclock
Well then, we're not talking Rocket Science are we?
The Zalman FB-165 is a very simple bracketed 80mm fan setup
and it is a piece of cake to install. Just screw it in
with two of the slot screws that hold your graphics card and
adjacent PCI slot and you are set. Then just plug in
the three pin power connector on to a free site on your
motherboard. As you can see, our highest maximum
stable overclock was 335MHz core and 750MHz memory clock
speeds. We've setup our testing with three reference
points however, stock speed, 320MHz core / 700MHz memory and
335MHz core / 750 memory. For sure, the middle 320/700
setting should be stable with or without the Zalman fan.
Again however, your results may be different. Let's
look at some numbers.
Benchmarks - 3DMark 2001 SE, Quake 3 Annihilator
Where the rubber
meets the road
Let's check the
scoreboard first with
MadOnion's new 3DMark 2001SE.
At first glance
it looks as if there is not much of a gain to be had overall
with the overclocked GeForce4 Ti4600, even when maxed out to
335/750. Although this may look like a meager 3% gain
on the surface, you have to remember that 3DMark 2001 really
doesn't reference an "absolute zero" score. If you
test with any kind of decent modern graphics card, you'll
most likely score in the 2 - 5K range, even with a low end
card. So as a result, a 400 point gain here is more
significant than it looks.
Did you ever
think you would see the Quake 3 engine exercising the
GeForce4 so heavily? The Annihilator demo from
at 3DCenter, completely saturates the graphics pipeline
with a heavily loaded death match scene with just about
every bot that has ever been designed for the game, coming
at you at the same time. At 1600X1200 resolution, we
see the GeForce4 Ti 4600 gain about 10% over all, at the top
end of our max clock speed.
In this test, 4X Anisotropic Filtering was used to stress
the GeForce4 Ti 4600 more heavily
At stock speed,
the GeForce4 Ti 4600 absolutely tears through DronZe.
We decided to enable 4X aniso filtering to turn things up a
notch. Here we see the same 10% gain at the highest
overclocked speed versus stock speed. At the 320/700
overclocked speeds, we still see a gain of around 6%.
Speed Vrs. Memory Speed - Where are the largest gains to be
By now you may be wondering which gives you the most "bang
for your buck", an overclocked core or overclocked DDR SDRAM
memory. We'll take a look at that next.
clearly shows no gain whatsoever, when you overclock the
core but not the memory. Conversly, the benchmark
shows almost the same level of performance, with just the
memory overclocked, as with both memory and core at maximum
speed. Pixel and Vertex Shaders obviously need
bandwidth to perform, when running a DirectX 8.1 compliant
engine, like the one used in 3DMark 2001SE. But what
about legacy titles or OpenGL games that don't use the
shaders. We're glad you asked.
Here we see a
definitive gain when overclocking the core. However,
the gain is much more significant still, when overclocking
the memory. You need to keep something in perspective
however. The core could only scale 11% higher in our
test. The memory speeds scaled about 14% higher, from
stock to max clock speed. Regardless, the GeForce4 Ti
4600 seems to have its main bottleneck (if there ever was
one) with respect to memory bandwidth.
We certainly had
a little fun with this piece. We hope you were able to
garner something useful from the tests and scores we
assembled for you here. The GeForce4 Ti 4600 is truly
an amazing product. There is no other 3D Graphics Card
on the market that can match its performance currently.
So why overclock then? We'll respond to that question
with a resounding, "why not". Just remember, you're on
your own when it comes to overclocking. Is it safe?
For the most part as long as you are reasonable in your
expectations and use common sense. We'll take an
average of 10% higher frame rate every day of the week,
thanks very much. Until next time, clock on brothers
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