The Second Encounter, is Croteam's latest first person
shooter using their "Serious Engine". This game is
filled with high resolution textures and quite a few
different visual effects. It can also be set to run
using either OpenGL or DirectX. We set the game up
to use OpenGL and used the included "Little Trouble" demo
to test each card, with the game set to high quality.
OpenGL Benchmarks with Serious Sam: TSE
Ok, Time to Get
The Second Encounter really taxed our GeForce 4 MX 440s.
With some trepidation, I'd say the game is playable at
1024x768, but I happen to be one of "those people" who
would sacrifice some image quality to play a game at
framerates over 60 FPS. If we disabled the detail
texture, or dropped the texture quality just slightly, we
were able to break the 60 FPS mark without a problem.
AND THE WINNER
So, how do you
pick a winner, when no single product performed better
than any other? Well, we have to look at the
entire picture, and ask ourselves a few questions.
Which card had the best price, at least according to a
recent search on Pricewatch? Which card had the best
/ most useful features? And which card had the best
bundle? X-Micro's Impact 440 was the least expensive
card in the round-up. Visiontek's XTasy GeForce 4 MX
440 was the only card with dual monitor connectors.
The Chaintech A-G441 included two full version games.
And what about Abit's entry? So, which is it?
Which card gets Top Honors? We feel the Chaintech
A-G441 earned the number 1 slot, with the X-Micro Impact
440 and Leadtek A170 DDR T, coming in a close second and
think Chaintech's card strikes the perfect balance.
The Chaintech A-G441 was priced well, has good active
cooling, included an S-Video cable, had the best User's
Manual and finding full versions of Aquanox and MDK 2
scored definite points with us. The card even looks
cool with it's black PCB and gold accessories! This
is the first product from Chaintech we've reviewed here at
HotHardware, and based on our experience with the A-G441
we're hoping there will be more. The X-Micro Impact
440 had the best price, and included full versions of
WinDVD and Serious Sam, but we felt it needed one more
useful, distinguishing feature, to garner a victory.
Leadtek also included two full games, and WinDVD but the
price was considerably higher than the Chaintech or
X-Micro cards, and I wasn't particularly fond of the
cooler, or either game for that matter. That's not
to say all of the other cards featured in this article
should be overlooked though. Gainward builds one
hell of a video card, and theirs is the only product
"guaranteed" to overclock if you use their ExperTool to
put the card into "Enhanced Mode". I have used
Gainward cards in three of my personal systems and have
been nothing but pleased. If you're interested in an
MX 440 to take advantage of NVIDIA's nView multi-monitor
capabilities, Visiontek's card is your only option.
Also, we especially liked eVGA's approach to cooling the
GPU, and expect a lot from them in the future. We've
got eVGA's GeForce 4 Ti 4600 in the lab now and are very
impressed with it so far. Finally, Abit has long
been a favorite amongst enthusiasts, and with good reason.
They build great products at affordable prices and also
have a tendency to focus on the overclocking aspect of
their cards. Needless to say, if you feel a GeForce4
MX based card is right for you, any of the cards we took a
look at here today, will provide what you are looking for,
from a hardware perspective and perform on par with just
about any GF4 MX card on the market.
The GeForce 4
MX definitely is not for everyone though. Not being
a true DirectX 8.1 part, and lacking pixel and vertex
shaders does not make the GeForce 4 MX very "future
proof". If you're looking for an inexpensive product
to hold you over until the next generation of gaming cards
hit the streets, or are looking for a card with good DVD
playback and 2D, then a GeForce 4 MX may suit you
well. If you're a gamer looking get the most out of
their hard earned dollar though, save up a little longer
and spring for a GeForce 4 Ti 4200 or 4400. Of
course there is always the ATi Radeon 8500, which also has
an excellent price/performance ratio and DX8.1 support.
The Radeon 8500 and GF4 Ti products, will remain
viable for gamers for a much longer period, and will get
you top end performance out of the box.
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