The Ti Arrives
These days, board manufacturers from all over the globe are developing NVIDIA based graphics boards, but less than a handful of them distinguish themselves from the competition. Most GeForce2 and 3 boards that decorate store shelves today are based on a reference design laid out by NVIDIA. While creating a product based on a reference design isn't creative, and isn't original, it's quick and easy and enables a company to quickly meet market demands, as well as remaining fully compliant with Nvidia driver releases.
Specification-wise, there's no architectural difference between the GeForce3 Ti and the original GeForce3. The Ti 500 is simply a faster version of the original GeForce3. Its core speed runs at a brisk 240MHz, 40MHz faster than the GeForce3 while its memory blazes at 500MHz, 40MHz faster than the original.
Diamond in the rough
Virtually all GeForce2 and 3 owners are satisfied with their video card's speed, but at the same time, virtually all of them complain about 2D visual quality. It's a known fact that NVIDIA based cards don't have quite the sharp image that can be seen on a Matrox product, or the chromatic visual exuberance of an ATI card.
Most users experienced on-screen image quality drop as they scaled higher in resolution and refresh rate. Text became blurry and the overall focus of images became a situation where most users thought that their monitors were the cause.
Upon criticism, NVIDIA was quick to point out that image sharpness and overall quality was not due to its chipset but rather the filters and components used on boards. The problem was shown to be that as users increased their desktop resolution, the VGA signal strength decreased.
Leadtek set out to rise above the rest by scrutinizing the components on its boards. Making sure that any components on its GeForce3 boards meet critical standards, the final result is a GeForce3 Ti product boasting image quality exceeding those of famous Matrox products.
Having a tradition of cutting costs and passing the savings onto the customer, Leadtek this time found the resources to compromise, and managed to bundle in a few games. The usual Leadtek utilities are thrown in the box and two games, Dronez
round out the package.
WinFast GeForce3 Ti500
Physically, the WinFast doesn't look too different from any other GeForce3 Ti 500 except for the trademark-size heatsink Leadtek uses. Most GeForce3 Ti's overclock very closely with each other and because the underlying architecture is so efficient, you probably won't be able to squeeze out any tangible performance increases.
We think Leadtek should have used separate heatsinks for the GPU and the memory modules because the heatsink on our board doesn't quick come in full contact with the memory. The smallish fan also has a harder job trying to distribute airflow evenly across the surface of the heatsink.