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Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750-8X XP Golden Sample Review - Page 2 Of 7

CONTENTS

We'll start with the packaging. The box is your standard cardboard (no metal briefcases here to jack up the cost) with a blonde man, or woman--not really sure--sporting some yellow face paint, freckles and a red targeting reticle. I'm sure there's some meaning behind this but it escapes me as to what it is.

I know some of you would prefer that I elaborate ad nauseum on the finer points of package design, presentation, etc but I just don't have it in me. Like they say, "it's what's on the inside that matters" so let's take a peek at the contents.

At first glance, it appears that the bundled software inside isn't a whole heck of lot. However, taking a closer look reveals more than you'd first think:

  • InterVideo WinCinema - This CD is what changed my initial "hmm, not much" impression. The CD actually contains a suite of three complete applications:
     
    • WinDVD 4 - This is one of the most popular DVD players with a lot of neat features such as Time Stretching, which lets you speed up or slow down playback without audio distortion (so you can finish the movie before your laptop battery is dead). Intervideo claims "eight of the top ten PC manufacturers bundle InterVideo's WinDVD".
      Retail value: $39.95
       
    • WinRip 2 - This is basically MP3, WMA, CD player/recorder with some added features like "WinRip's IDI technology adds synchronized lyrics to your songs, then use the Karaoke and other DSP effects for a great party!"
      Retail value: $19.95
       
    • WinProducer 3 CD - This is probably the most interesting/valuable part of the suite as I already have variations of the other two as most of you do I'm sure. With this, you can burn your own VCD, SVCD and mini-DVD formats to CD. You can also capture video, edit movies with over 80 total video and audio transitioning effects and more.
      Retail value: $79.95
      _________________
      Total value: $139.85

    All three of these applications installed and ran without any problem. They all have nice, slick interfaces and were intuitive to use. I did not have the time for this review to use them to any extent but based on the reviews around the web it looks to be a solid addition from Gainward.
     

  • Serious Sam - That's not a typo. I didn't forget the "2". We all know what this is, and frankly I wonder why Gainward bothered tossing this one in. It's better than nothing I suppose but it's older than dirt and you can snatch it up for $10 or less practically anywhere.
     
  • Gainward PowerCD - This CD contains the 41.04 nVidia Detonator drivers and Gainward's ExperTool.

    ExperTool is primarily Gainward's utility for overclocking your core and memory clock settings. It delivers exactly as promised too; I had no problems at all with this utility whatsoever.

    ExperTool also provides an alternative interface to your standard Windows Display settings which I really liked. Quite a bit of detailed information regarding your video card, monitor, etc can also be found here along with a nice screen adjustment pattern to boot. At the time of this writing I noticed that a new version (3.05) was available from the Gainward website. I'd been using version 3.04 so if I find anything worth mentioning from version 3.05, an update to this review will be posted.
     


     

  • S-Video VIVO (Video-In, Video-Out) Cable - Pretty self-explanatory here. The cables are very flexible, about 11" long and are in a cool red color to match the card's color scheme.
     

     

  • DVI-to-VGA Adapter - Same here, also in a cool red color to match the card's color scheme.

     

     

  • Gainward Logo Case Badge Sticker - These are always a nice little freebie.
     
  • Paperback Manual/Installation Guide - The PDF version is also available on the Gainward PowerCD

     

CARD LAYOUT / COMPONENTS

Gainward uses the red PCB as you can see below. You either think this is cool or could care less. I like it myself and am just waiting to see who'll come out with a multi-colored, camouflaged, photo-inlaid, etc PCB (you know it's just a matter of time). Plaid, I think plaid would be a nice way to make your video card standout in a case. Seriously though, the card is of high quality build and there's really nothing to gripe about.

MEMORY

One of the first things worth noting is that of the memory heatsinks on both sides of the card. These undoubtedly help to make this card as stable as it is, even at overclocked speeds well above spec. The memory used is -3.3ns Samsung DDR m-BGA type which also aids in the stability for this card.

GPU HSF

The GPU HSF is solid aluminum and isn't really all that exciting. However, it looks nice (details such as "GAINWARD" and their logo) spruce it up. What is exciting about it is that it was relatively quiet in my opinion (compared to a recent ATI Radeon LE GPU HSF that I'd been using). Most importantly is that it performs well as overclocking the core to 320 MHz (+15% over the default core of 275) was no problem at all. I'd assume that replacing the standard thermal paste with some Artic Silver would yield even more headroom.

MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS

Three other items worth noting on the card are the firewire connector (upper-left). This particular product doesn't come with a firewire card but Gainward does offer this option.

The second point of interest is the THine THC63DV164 chip set. This is the transmitter for the signal to a monitor connected to the DVI output of the card. This is the newest transmitter chip set from THine and is 25-170MHz instead of the older 25-120MHz version. Among other things, this chip set has on chip input jitter filtering, low power requirements and various programmable features.

The final point of interest is the Philips SAA7108AE video encoder/decoder. In short, this puppy packs a ton of functionality into a very small footprint. It can output to TV up to 1280x1024 and also HDTV output of (1080i/720p/480i).

The faceplate of the card provides what you'd expect with VGA, S-Video and DVI connectors.

Next Page: System Testing Configuration / Benchmark Software


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Last Updated on March 10, 2003

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