ATI vs. NVIDIA: Fight!
It would seem as though the graphics market is now cleanly divided between manufacturers peddling the latest from ATI and others remaining faithful to NVIDIA, waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for GeForce FX processors. For now, those loyal to the green and black are being forced to compete on the basis of price and value, since the RADEON 9700 Pro holds a clear performance advantage.
A few variables are complicating the situation for NVIDIA, though. To begin with, it recently released the NV28 and NV18 graphics processors that introduce AGP 8x support to the GeForce4 lineup. AGP 8x doesn’t add any additional performance, at least in today’s games, but it does serve to attract the attention of OEM’s looking for the latest and greatest. Further, even though we’ve talked to several manufacturers with GeForce4 Ti 4800 (Ti 4600 with AGP 8x) cards in the works, the Ti 4200 and MX 440 are currently the only cores readily available sporting the AGP 8x capability.
As a result, NVIDIA’s partners are striving to milk performance from the Ti 4200 core. ABIT uses its OTES cooling solution
to draw attention. MSI offers a slew of software along with a dual-VGA feature. Meanwhile, ASUS has crafted a package that combines an oversized cooler with a useful software bundle, on top of video-in/out capabilities and a 600MHz memory bus.
Not Your Everyday 4200
ASUS continues to manufacture graphics products that stand out from its competitors. If the NV28 reference design were likened to a Mercedes Benz C320 sedan, ASUS’ V9280S could accurately be compared to the AMG-modified C32. Simply, ASUS has taken a very capable core and paired it with 3.3ns BGA memory capable of 300MHz (600MHz effective). Moreover, the card has been outfitted with improved cooling, TV-out capabilities, a video input breakout box, and dual-display support.
ASUS V9280S card
The back of the card
When NVIDIA unveiled its NV28 and NV18
graphics processors, it concurrently released reference cards based on the new cores. The NV28 model came with a 250MHz Ti 4200 core and 128MB of memory operating at 513MHz. Despite the addition of AGP 8x support, the card performed on par with other Ti 4200 cards in our lab. AGP 8x was obviously not enough to net a performance gain – at least in the games available today. ASUS has addressed the meager improvement by running the NV28 core faster than the specification set forth by NVIDIA. The V9280S runs with a 275MHz graphics processor and 128MB of memory clocked effectively at 600MHz (Samsung –GC33). In comparison, the reference GeForce4 Ti 4400 runs at 275/550MHz!