In our final two tests, we enabled Anisotropic settings to see how well the various cards could perform, however, there is a caveat. Marco noted in his recent 8500LE review, that nVidia and ATi both handle Anisotropic filtering somewhat differently. What NVIDIA calls 32-Tap Anisotropic filtering is 4X in their drivers yet what ATi calls 32-Tap Anisotropic filtering is 8X in their drivers. On top of that, the Radeon 8500 is not capable of true trilinear filtering with Anisotropic filtering turned on, so with this test we set Quake 3 to bilinear to keep things equal.
Ahhh...here we see the Radeon card give the Ti4600 a lesson in Anisotropic performance, posting a solid triple digit score while the Ti4600 maxed in the low 80's. So ATi has the advantage in Anisotropic Filtering and nVidia has an even greater edge when it comes to FSAA. So what do you say we run the same test again, but this time tack on 2X FSAA?
When it comes to a balance between the two features, it looks like the Ti4600 is a more well rounded card, capable of pumping out a good amount of frames any way you slice it.
As we bring this review to a close, I find myself in a bit of a "rating" quandary. From a performance stand point, the eVGA e-GeForce4 Ti4600 with ACS² is a solid card that demonstrated superior performance on our test bench. In each test we saw the pure might of the GeForce4 GPU as the video card continually posted great scores in virtually every test. While the card did struggle a bit with Anisotropic filtering in comparison to the ATi All-In-Wonder Radeon 8500, it still proved to be a more well-rounded card when enabling both FSAA and Anisotropic filtering. As we saw with the in-game screenshots, the picture quality of the Ti4600 is fantastic, showing extreme detail and realism. On the other hand, we have the Asymmetric Cooling System² performance issues.
On the surface, the Asymmetric Cooling System² looked like nothing we've ever seen before. With its innovative "heat-pipe" system and two piece sandwich-like construction, the ACS² looked to be a marvelous cooling package. However, as we began to look closer at the way the ACS² was implemented, as well as comparing its performance to a reference cooling package, we soon discovered it was not the superior cooling unit we hoped it would be. As we, and other websites have begun to question the effectiveness of the ACS², we hope that eVGA will take the steps necessary to improve upon its design, making it the advanced cooler that we expected. From a consumers standpoint, there is another solution to this problem, don't upgrade your purchase to the ACS² ready model, but instead opt for the stock cooling model and spend the $50 you saved on a game like Jedi Knight II, you'll be glad you did.
Not only did the eVGA e-GeForce4 Ti4600 with ACS² demonstrate excellent over all performance and picture quality, the retail package was complete, with good documentation and installation software. Unfortunately, we have to take into account the lackluster performance of the Asymmetric Cooling System², which weighed heavily on this reviewer since it is an upgrade feature. With that said, we give the eVGA e-GeForce4 Ti4600 w/ACS² a Hot Hardware Heat Meter Rating of a 7.
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