Summary: Gainward has a history of catering their graphics products to the high-end market. Did you know that they were the only manufacturer with a 128MB GF3 Ti 200 board? Find out what they have in store for the GeForce4 Ti 4600 in our latest review!
The GeForce4 market
It has been three months since the GeForce4 Titanium originally debuted, in that time we’ve seen GeForce4 prices fall slowly (Ti 4600 boards can easily be found for under $320 online) along with greater availability, there are well over half a dozen video card manufacturers producing Ti 4600 video cards with widespread availability of Ti 4400 while Ti 4200 boards targeted for the mainstream market are beginning to become available. With the GeForce4 Titanium line continuing to hold the performance crown (at least until Matrox Parhelia ships), the only option consumers have had in the high-end segment is from NVIDIA. Once you’ve determined your budget (and therefore the GeForce4 core you can afford), the only decision left is choosing the card manufacturer for your upcoming purchase.
Gainward: Video cards for the hardcore market
This brings us to Gainward, with well known names such as ASUS, VisionTek, and most recently, PNY (one of the world’s largest memory manufacturers) offering NVIDIA-based products, other manufacturers are making a name for themselves by offering unique solutions that deviate from the standard GeForce4 reference design. One of these companies is Gainward and the video card we’re reviewing today, the GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750 XP is one such product. If you’re unfamiliar with Gainward, they’re a small company based in Taiwan. First established in 1984, Gainward has manufactured two generations of video cards based on NVIDIA graphics cores as well as one card based on 3dfx’s Voodoo3. Gainward has set itself apart from most other manufacturers by offering unique features that set its graphics cards apart from others.
Since you’re probably already pretty familiar with the specs of the GeForce4 GPU, we’ll briefly go over the features before getting into more detail on the board itself.
NVIDIA® GeForce 4 Ti 4600 GPU
The Ultra/750 XP dons a red printed circuit board, separating itself from other GeForce4 offerings on the market. The board design itself closely follows NVIDIA’s reference design, Gainward simply adds heatsinks to the memory chips and dual DVI outputs instead of the single DVI/VGA connector combination included with every other GeForce4 card on the market. While LCD prices have come down considerably over the past few years, CRTs continue to offer better display performance as well as price. Therefore, we personally don’t see the need for dual DVI outputs, as LCD gaming isn’t quite feasible just yet. If you don’t have an LCD display, don’t fret. Gainward includes two DVI-to-VGA converters in the Ultra/750 XP’s packaging.
The heatsinks on the memory modules may come slightly in handy for overclockers, as we were able to overclock the memory on our Ultra 750/XP to levels higher than any other GeForce4 card we’ve seen previously.
Other than those two changes, the Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750 XP is unchanged from the GeForce4 Ti 4600 board. For video-editing buffs, Gainward includes Philips MPEG chip for encoding/decoding video. With NVIDIA’s VIVO adapter included in the packaging, the Ultra/750 XP supports this capability through the S-Video output.
One additional feature Gainward includes with the Ultra/750 XP is a PCI Firewire card. With the aforementioned video input/output capabilities of this card, this makes the Ultra/750 XP the perfect card for the hardware enthusiast that is new to the video-editing scene.
SIDEBAR: Gainward also bundles their EXPERTool for overclocking the Ultra/750 XP. EXPERTool offers a safe-mode setting (default speeds) and an enhanced mode with slightly overclocked settings. We still obtained the best overclocking results by adjusting the settings manually.
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz
256MB PC2100 CAS2 DDR SDRAM
ASUS V8460 GeForce4 Ti 4600
Gainward GeForce4 Power Pack! Ultra/750 XP
NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 reference board
VisionTek Xtasy GeForce4 Ti 4400
NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 500 reference board
Driver version Detonator 28.32
30GB IBM Deskstar DTLA 307030 ATA/100 Hard Drive
AFREEY 12X DVD-ROM
Windows XP Professional
Desktop Resolution: 1024x768x32
3DMark 2001 Second Edition - 32-bit color, 32-bit textures
3DMark 2001 - DirectX 8
3DMark 2001 - Car Chase
3DMark 2001 - Dragothic
3DMark 2001 - Lobby
3DMark 2001 - Nature
Serious Sam 2 - OpenGL
Quake III - High Quality
Jedi Knight II
Performance: As a card based on the GeForce4 Ti 4600 core, the Gainward Ultra/750 XP offers more than enough performance for all of today’s latest games. As long as the GeForce4 Ti 4600 remains on the top of the performance heap, this will always remain the case. With NVIDIA’s AccuView AA engine, performance is also exemplary under high resolution/antialiasing conditions.
Price: The Ultra/750 XP offers so much beyond the standard reference design that prices are a bit higher than your typical GeForce4 board. The lowest price we found on PriceWatch was $370. This isn’t a bad price considering what you’re getting, but if you’re looking to spend as little as possible on a GeForce4 Ti 4600, the Ultra/750 XP probably isn’t for you.
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