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

ISSUES

Aside from the often complained about naming conventions and arguably lite software bundle, there were no issues at all with this card from a hardware, software or performance standpoint. Put simply, this card does exactly what Gainward claims it will do and then some. It actually goes well above what Gainward claims it will do and I've seen claims of exceeding 720MHz on the memory with tools like RivaTuner in other reviews, which I don't doubt after having worked with this card.

The memory timing differences between the OEM and retail versions of this card obviously won't be a problem if you buy this from a brick and mortar store. However, if you order this card online and the memory difference between 3.3ns (retail) and 3.6(OEM) is important to you then you need to verify what the bar code is before purchasing.

The following is not related to the card at all, but rather a brief soapbox speech regarding benchmarking in general. Benchmarks should always be taken with a grain of salt unless you can verify the specifics (game options, map/level, AA/AF settings, etc) that so directly affect the end results. Many of the Ti4800SE reviews that I've read over the past month or so have laughable benchmarks at best and are just useless without more information. It's by no means an exact science.

2D quality was always a negative with older GeForce cards and even with GF3 cards. However, my opinion is that nVidia has made big improvements in this area. I have a Matrox G450 at work and a G400 before that; this 2D quality difference to this Gainward card is negligable. Neither ATI or nVidia have likely bested Matrox in 2D quality but this card is such an improvement that I wouldn't mind using it for day-to-day 2D business applications at all.

CONCLUSION

Although this is an nVidia enthusiast website I know that I speak not only for myself but others here that there's no interest in being a "fanboy". Doing so would be a disservice to you. So, having said that (as I firmly straddle the fence), here are my closing thoughts.

This card is a very high quality piece of hardware and one that shows a lot of room for growing with faster processors. My CPU was a considerable bottleneck in many of these benchmarks. However, since most of you likely don't own the latest motherboard/CPU on the market, I'm confident that the class of system these benchmarks were run on will be something you can relate to. I obviously didn't do any tests to confirm this with say, a P4 3GHz system, so this is of course just my opinion. If you spend some time reading other similar reviews based on faster systems though you'll quickly see that this card has plenty of horses under the hood.

The AGP-8X isn't something I discussed to any degree and as most of you know it simply doesn't merit much discussion, at least not in the immediate future. If I get a hold of an AGP-8X motherboard I may update this article if anything interesting shows up but I won't hold my breath.

As of the writing of this article the card can be found for ~$200. I won't spend a lot of time drawing comparisons between what options are in that price range as there are obviously a few out there. Basically though, this card should be a very nice card to have for at least the next 12-18 months for the majority of games out there (perhaps not so for Doom3, but only time will tell). If you have a GeForce3 class, Radeon 8500 class card or below then my opinion is that this card is well worth the upgrade. Or, if you don't currently have a VIVO card then this would be an excellent choice while providing excellent gaming performance.

This card is extremely overclockable and I never once experienced any artifacting, crashing or otherwise to suggest that the card couldn't take whatever I threw at it. It's just rock solid from my experience. It easily beats a stock Ti4600 in almost every scenario based on benchmark comparisons.

Granted, there really isn't much of anything new with this card. It's basically a highly overclockable Ti4400 with very fast memory. It is built on the new NV28 chip set though so one can safely assume that at least some minor improvements were made from the NV25 chip set. It's a bit lacking regarding DirectX 9 hardware support but with games just now starting to really come out with DirectX 8 support you're still ahead of the curve.

Pros

  • Rock-solid stability
  • High quality components
  • Very overclockable
  • Impressive 4X Anti-Aliasing results
  • Red, 8-layer PCB
  • Memory heatsinks front/back
  • Excellent ExperTool utility
  • InterMedia WinCinema software (valued at $140)
  • Good price/performance ratio for most users
  • Excellent VIVO capability/features
  • AGP-8X support (unmentionable now but nice to have at least)
  • Quieter than expected

Cons

  • Very lite gaming software bundle
  • Product naming conventions
  • Lacking full DirectX 9 support
  • Possible "gotcha" for some if product is OEM instead of retail
  • Confusing explanation of which BIOS to use on Gainward website (Not important to most, but for those that do want to update the BIOS it isn't terribly clear as to which file to use)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Gainward for providing us with their latest NV28-based graphics card for this review. My contact at Gainward was always willing to answer my questions and was patient with the extended timeframe for this review to be completed.

I would also like to give a special thanks to Brian and Steve for their feedback on some of the rough drafts of this review and for their insight on certain topics.

 

 

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Last Updated on March 10, 2003

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