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Gainward GeForce PowerPack! Ultra/650-8X XP “Golden Sample” - Page 4 Of 17

Installation And EXPERTool

Installing the card was a piece of cake. No problems at all. Though if you are not handy with computer hardware, ask someone to do it for you. You can always give it a try before letting someone do it. The step-by-step guide in the manual actually explains how to put the card in.

The Test Beds

AMD based machine:

  • Athlon XP 1900+ (1.6GHz)
  • Alpha HSF + Panaflo 80mm fan
  • Soyo Dragon Plus, based on KT266A chipset
  • Gainward GeForce PowerPack! Ultra/650-8X XP “Golden Sample” (Ti4200, AGP 8x)
  • 512MB of OCZ DDR RAM PC2100 CAS 2 (266MHz)
  • ViewSonic P95f+ Pro-Series monitor
  • Onboard C-Media sound chip
  • Western Digital 40GB Hard Drive
  • PlexWriter 24/10/40A
  • Fresh installation of Windows XP along with SP1
  • Detonator 42.86 Drivers (I did not use the drivers Gainward provided as they are quite old)

Pentium 4 based machine:

  • Pentium 4 1.6A @ 2.39GHz
  • Thermaltake Volcano 7 (Along with twoPanaflo 120mm fans inside the case)
  • EPoX 4BDA+ based on Intel 845 chipset
  • Gainward GeForce PowerPack! Ultra/750 XP “Golden Sample” (Ti4600, AGP 4x)
  • 512MB of Samsung DDR RAM PC2100
  • Samsung SyncMaster 955DF
  • SoundBlaster Live!
  • Maxtor 20GB Hard Drive
  • Velo TDK 48X CD-Burner
  • Fresh installation of Windows XP with SP1
  • Detonator 42.86 Drivers

As you can see, both systems are pretty much the same except for the CPU. As we noted earlier, neither system supports AGP 8x. The answer is plain and simple. There are no performance gains when using the AGP 3.0 compliant motherboard. You will later learn how both systems stack up against each other.

Drivers

Here are settings we have used for both systems when conducting our benchmarks (Only difference are the refresh rates on the SyncMaster)





Gainward's EXPERTool

Basically it’s a display control and desktop enhancement utility program for Windows 98/98SE/ME/NT/2000/XP which will only function correctly in combination with your Gainward graphics card. Note that not all adapters support the same features. Some options may be not available for you to use. Never the less it's a great tool for managing and troubleshooting your video card. Let's take this little app for a spin :)

Desktop works much like the ‘Settings’ of Windows’ ‘Display Properties’, but much better. The difference is that this tool is easier to understand and use, because everything you need is on one single nicely organized page. Use this section to change your display’s resolution, color depth, the Windows’ system font size and refresh rates of your monitor (But be careful when you change that refresh rate, as not all monitors support the same settings. Make sure you read your monitor manual to see exactly what refresh rates it supports).

The Color adjustment settings page is an alternative method to adjust brightness, contrast and gamma. You can even change color settings based on color channel. You can always undo the changes you’ve made by clicking the ‘Default’ button. I myself find this very useful. There are some games that need to have their brightness adjusted (even if you set those in the game, hence Counter-Strike need additional adjustments via drivers).

This section gives you a very detailed status report on your Gainward card’s current operating environment, such as the model number, current display settings, current software and driver versions, etc. It could be helpful in the event you run into problems and need to find more information about it on the internet. You can also update the tool by clicking EXPERT Update >> button which will take you to Gainward’s website.

Gainward packed some cool features into this tool. Here you can adjust the position of your Windows desktop on your monitor, setup power management properties and view all supported resolutions / refresh rates of your monitor.

I think this is the coolest feature Gainward included in their tool. Right now the core and memory clocks are set to ‘default’ (250 MHz and 513 MHz). Also there is the ‘Enhanced Mode Settings’ button (Only for Golden Sample based cards). Once you hit the ‘Enhanced Mode Settings’ button both clocks will jump to 270 MHz 540 MHz respectively. Those settings are GUARANTEED TO WORK IN ANY SYSTEM WITH ANY ‘GOLDEN SAMPLE’ DISPLAY ADAPTER FROM GAINWARD. The higher the clock settings, the faster your graphics card will work (technically).

So why don’t the Non-Golden Sample cards have the ‘Enhanced Mode Settings’? Because the ‘Golden Sample’ boards are special. What Gainward does, is puts sample boards through a series of punishing and demanding performance tests. Only the boards that pass these tests will be qualified as a ‘Golden Sample’.

I must admit, I was a bit disappointed with overclocking abilities of this board. It probably has to do with the RAM type not being BGA. But I will discuss that at the end of this review.


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Last Updated on April 12, 2003

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