look at the Asus V9280S GeForce 4 Ti4200-8x
great looking card with a bundle to match
Without a doubt, Asus has
provided a great looking card in the Asus V9280S. The
card comes on an 8-layer PCB, which is colored a dark black
and it contrasts nicely with the golden sheen of the heat
sinks. The heat sink over the GPU is made of copper,
but the cover over the fan as well as the heatsinks on the
RAM, are actually painted aluminum. Either way, the
card definitely has a "quality" look to it that helps
distinguish it even further from other brands. As you
can see on the bracket, there is a standard VGA port as well
as a DVI connection. The DIN connection in the middle
is actually not used for S-Video connection as one would
normally expect, but is the input for the breakout box,
provided in the package.
Although I had seen earlier
reports using faster memory, the card I received had 128MB
of 3.3ns Samsung BGA DDR RAM, instead of the TSOP kind found
on the more generic Ti4200 models.
Checking Samsung's website, the maximum frequency of this
RAM was listed at 300MHz, which gives us the effective speed
of 600MHz mentioned on the package, but we should still be
able to get some extra headroom when overclocking. The
RAM was cooled using the fin-type heat sinks on the front of
the card. Retention springs on the heat sink and fan over
the core, held another plate onto the back of the card,
which we could only assume was meant to cool the memory
chips on the backside as well. Closer examination of
the plate did show four indentations that matched up with
the four memory chips on the card. Although it was
hard to capture in the last picture, the plate actually
didn't make connection with any of the memory chips.
Only the two thermal pads on the plate made contact with the
card directly behind the GPU. While we were somewhat
perplexed by the apparent lack of quality control here, it
should be mentioned that cooling the memory chips is not a
major issue, even when overclocking.
The bundle was a Gamer's dream. One usually can expect
to find a demo CD and, if they are lucky, a full game or
two. Asus has taken this and gone a few steps further.
Included in the box are no less than three complete games -
Morrowind, to appeal to the RPG crowd, Rogue Spear - Black
Thorn, for the war simulation gamers, and Worms Blaster for
some action strategy. We also found two DEMO CDs, one
for Battle Realms and the other for IL2-Sturmovik, a game
that has received accolades from just about all reviewers.
Gamers should be sated by this, but on the other side of the
coin, Asus has provided some utilities as well. These
included CDs for Asus' DVD Player, Cyberlink's PowerDirector
2.1 ME and Media@Show SE 2.0, that can be used for making
movies and slides, respectively, and a VR Aquarium CD.
Of course, there is also a driver/utility CD, but it comes
stocked with some interesting pieces of software as well,
like Asus Video Security and Asus VR Viewer, amongst others
aforementioned breakout box is another nice addition.
It allows you to move the connections for S-Video in,
composite in, S-Video out, and composite out away from the
back of the PC to a more accessible location. The
cable is long enough that the box could be mounted on the
top of the desk. Finally, a DVI to VGA converter is
included for dual monitor support. The only thing
lacking here are cables to be used with the breakout box.
Examples of Visual Quality
Now we get to my
favorite section - the Game Showcase! We have all been
playing EA Sports' Madden football series for years now, but
this years edition is as close to watching football on TV as
you can get. Sure, the gameplay needs a little more
tweaking, but with graphics this gorgeous, who can complain?
In these shots, I turned the table on the Titans and led my
Pittsburgh Steelers to a 28-7 victory. That's The Bus
on the right in 1600x1200 glory. The graphics are so
fine, you can actually see the mesh holes in his jersey.
The next game up was Harry Potter and the Chamber of
Secrets, also from Electronic Arts. I put these up for
all of you Harry Potter fans (you know who you are).
It may be a kids game at heart, but the graphics really do
shine, although the highest resolution you can set it at is
1024x768. We played both of them with 32-Tap
anisotropic filtering and 4X FSAA enabled.
EA Sports Madden 2003
EA Games Harry Potter
the Chamber of Secrets
Setup and Overclocking of the Asus V9280S
first foray into AGP8x graphics
With an AGP8x card, we
obviously needed to find a motherboard with AGP8x support.
The first one that came to mind was the
Soyo SY-KT400 Dragon Ultra, that we reviewed a few
months back. Installation was straightforward; pop in
the card, screw it down, and turn on the machine again.
Quickly checking the BIOS, we noticed that where we would
change the AGP mode from 4x to 2x or 1x, this setting was
now absent and we were running in 8X mode. Windows
detected the card and I used nVidia's reference drivers,
version 41.03. The drivers actually list AGP8x while
they are installing.
our original benchmarks, we went back and used Coolbits to
raise both the core clock and memory clock speeds to see how
far we could push the card. Remember, this card is
already running above normal Ti 4200 specs in both
categories at 275/600. After some trial and error we
arrived 306MHz for the GPU and 667MHz for the memory.
Not the best overclock, but still enough to put it into the
same league as a GF4 Ti4600.
We also found
that we needed to overclock another of our cards, in this
Asus V8420 that we had reviewed not long ago. We
weren't looking to break the bank with the overclock.
Instead, we wanted to match the clock speeds with that of
the V9280S. In this manner, we had essentially the
same card, only using AGP4x bandwidth. Head to head,
we expected that the overclocked V8420 and the V9280S would
produce the same results. Well, let's turn the page
and find out if that held true.
Test Rig and Some DirectX Testing...