When video cards are set at higher resolutions, the video signal becomes progressively weaker. This is because at high res, the RAMDAC (RAM digital to analog converter) must draw more lines to fill the screen. Each line on the monitor receives a limited amount of time spent, and with more lines to draw, less time is spent on each line. Besides the time split, signal strength is also reduced and each graphic line on your monitor has a weaker signal at high resolutions. Most people who witness this don't have the benefit of having another video card on-hand to compare, and misdiagnose the problem as a failing/inadequate monitor.
To keep images sharp when scaling to high resolutions, the output circuitry on the video card must be able to compensate the increased number of draw lines by stabilizing output power. Before the WinFast GeForce3 TDH, no other NVIDIA based card on the market - with the exception of the Canopus X20 (available only in Japan) - used high-quality filter components. The lackluster filters that are used on most NVIDIA cards degraded the overall image from the GPU.
Image quality is one of the primary reasons why a company like Matrox chooses to manufacture its own boards. By doing so, Matrox can control the quality of components used on its products because it purchases them itself. While being a chip maker does give NVIDIA advantages, it limits NVIDIA's ability to keep a high level of quality control. NVIDIA will define what components to use on its products but board manufactures are not always interested in quality before bottom line.
During our tests with a Matrox G450, G550, ATI Radeon VE, Radeon All-in-Wonder, the WinFast Ti 500 showed better image consistency than any other card. While the Matrox cards were already displayed razor sharp text, the WinFast slightly passed it in terms of resolution scaling. At 1600x1200x85Hz, lines and text on the WinFast Ti 500 exhibited no noticeable ghosting or blur while the G550 showed very faint signs of edge blurriness.
Leadtek will be using high-quality filters for all of its future graphics boards starting with the WinFast GeForce3 TDH. We sure hope that other board manufacturers realize that although games are wonderful to play, most users still spend the majority of their computing time in Windows.
It's important to note that the quality of the monitor is still an important determinant in visual quality. You can have the sharpest video card on the planet, but hook it up to an old VGA monitor, and the signal won't be any better than what you'd get with an old ISA adapter.
More and more LCD monitors are showing up in stores and their prices are beginning to become more reasonable. Most consumer-grade LCD monitors use the standard VGA connector which sends an analog signal which is susceptible to line noise and interference. As such, VGA-only LCD displays tend to have blurry images with text that contain heavy ghosting.If you're going to be purchasing a LCD display, make sure it comes with a digital DVI connector, which the WinFast Ti500 conveniently supplies.
Leadtek uses a new Conexant video-out encoder that's capable of displaying resolutions up 1024x768 on most TV screens. At first this may sound wonderful, but standard NTSC signal limits the amount of horizontal pixels on a TV screen to about 500, thus making 1024 pixels quite useless. Although the image may be sharper, it won't be noticeable to those who've tried using their TV screens to read text in Windows (that even an old clunky 13" monochrome monitor is shaper than the latest Sony WEGA). 800x600 will remain the ideal resolution for large screen gaming on a TV screen, until people move to HDTVs. If you're one of the lucky few to already own a HDTV, Leadtek's offering beckons to be played with.