After seeing this new breed of GeForce4 Ti 4200 cards perform through a variety of games and applications, I can safely say that this product line still has quite a bit of life still in it. In stock form, the GeForce4 Ti 4200 has always been a great value. However, the true value of the card was found within its tremendous overclocking ability. Here, nearly every vendor’s card was able to be overclocked to at least GeForce4 Ti 4400 levels with the mere click of the mouse. In some cases, a few cards were able to reach (even surpass) GeForce4 Ti 4600 speeds! As a result, enthusiasts looking to have the maximum performance available without paying a large premium for the flagship model has a sure winner within the GeForce4 Ti 4200. However, there were still consumers who were too unfamiliar or unwilling to overclock the cards themselves. As such, the true potential of the card was never seen.
Fortunately, a number of vendors have recognized this situation and have taken matters into their own hands. As we see with the two cards reviewed today, this new breed of GeForce4 Ti 4200 come from the factory with overclocked frequencies. Furthermore, these vendors are equipping the cards with specialized heatsink assemblies and memory modules to ensure the consumer experiences no problems at these higher frequencies.
Though each card ultimately shares the same target audience, I cannot help but feel as though each card caters to dramatically different audience. On one hand, you have the exquisite Abit GeForce4 Ti 4200 with the incredible new OTES system. Here, you have a heatsink assembly which is impressive enough to be “borrowed” by NVIDIA for the upcoming flagship GeForce FX. Overall, the Abit card reminds me of a vintage sports car. Someone can walk up to it, and know that the car is fast just by looking at it. However, that same beauty makes you debate whether you want to drive it, or put it on display. Nearly every facet of the card speaks of the incredible attention to detail Abit has given this card. Though this particular sample did not overclock as high as the EK model, it surely was a healthy improvement over the "conventional" GeForce4 Ti 4200. In my opinion, the ideal buyer of the Abit OTES card would be someone who can truly appreciate excellent craftsmanship and a well polished (pun intended) product. Every aspect of the card is impressive, from the intricate design of the heatsink assembly to the accessories which are bundled with the card. Surely, this card has the performance and functionality to handle nearly any task you could give it with relative ease. Furthermore, the consumer has the reliability and reputation of the Abit name to fall back on.
Conversely, the EK Argos GeForce4 Ti 4200 "Special Edition" seems to be targeting the minimalist. Though the card does come with a few accessories and features, it is clearly evident that the company had pure performance in mind. Evidently, they included the bare essentials, which allow them to add an 8-layer PCB and 3.3ns BGA memory modules. These features are more likely found on the high end GeForce4 Ti models. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that this card performs as well (sometimes better) than these models. In this case, the review sample I received displayed incredible overclocking potential as well as excellent image quality. Overall, I cannot help but consider this the "best bang for the buck" solution on the market. Perhaps the one glaring problem this product has is the lack of availability. Given the company’s lack of presence in the US, it will be tough to find this card. However, those who are lucky enough to find this card will be rewarded with an amazing performance return on their investment.
Given the fact that the GeForce4 Ti 4200 is available in both 64MB and 128MB varieties, we are often asked which is the best option. Until recently, the seemingly better option was the 64MB variant due to the lower latency memory modules which allowed for higher frequencies and better overclocking results. However, should Comanche 4 and UT2003 be any indication the introduction of the next generation of games appear to be too taxing for a 64MB card. This fact, combined with the inclusion of fast memory modules on 128MB cards by vendors leads one to now choose the 128MB variant. Granted, the performance advantage will be negligible for the majority of games and engines run today. However, the results seen within this review seem to indicate that a 128MB will make a dramatic difference in the system’s performance in newer games and titles.
With the introduction of some new products from a number of NVIDIA’s competitors, it is no surprise that NVIDIA has allowed their vendor’s additional liberty with component selection. In doing so, this new breed of GeForce4 Ti 4200’s bring exceptional performance for an amazingly inexpensive price. The increased core and memory frequencies of these new cards allow them to compete with and surpass every card in its price range. In some cases, the card will even hold its own against higher priced solutions from other vendors. This, combined with the flawless driver performance and quality we’ve come to expect from NVIDIA makes it easy to recommend this card. When looking for a "budget" card which will yield the best price/performance ratio, it is foolish to not consider these "next generation" GeForce4 Ti 4200 cards. They combine the price of the GeForce4 Ti 4200 we’ve grown to love with the stellar performance of the GeForce4 Ti 4400 and 4600 cards. As such, these products are nearly impossible to ignore and represent an absolute bargain to most consumers.
I would like to thank both Abit and EK Computers for providing me with review samples of their products. Both vendors should be commended for bringing such unique solutions to the market, and doing so for such an impressive price. Each product displayed exceptional quality and performance which resulted in a conflict free review period. I encourage everyone to consider these cards if they are in the market for an exceptional budget solution as they have each impressed me with their features and performance. Overall, I find it hard to go wrong with either product.