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VIDEO CARDS

64MB GeForce4 Ti4200 Roundup
By: Justifier
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    2003-10-09

    Table of Contents:
  • 64MB GeForce4 Ti4200 Roundup
  • More Cards
  • And yet another card
  • Benchmarking

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    64MB GeForce4 Ti4200 Roundup - Benchmarking


    (Page 4 of 4 )

    BENCHMARKING (Continued...):

     

    Once we turn on Quincunx FSAA we see a substantial drop in FPS, but not to an unplayable level by any means.  Lately when I frag a bit in Q3 I've been running the second setting, 1600x1200x32 with Quincunx enabled and I see nary a hiccup and the game is drop dead gorgeous and smooth at this setting.  Considering that when this game came out my Voodoo3 wasn't even capable of 10 FPS at that setting, this is definitely amazing performance for a "value" graphics board, or even a high quality one for that matter.


    SERIOUS SAM:

       

     


    In looking at these graphs of Serious Sam performance two things are abundantly clear.  Sam is considerably more stressful than QuakeIII, and that this card again can offer performance that is more than impressive at VERY playable settings.  Personally when it comes to Sam and the majority of games, I play in 1024x768x16 with Quincunx on.  Even when we take the color depth to 32bit we are right there at the 100 FPS range.

     

    nVidia's Chameleon Benchmark:

    Usually I do not believe in running benchmarks that were made by the manufacturer, however, in this case since all we are looking at is nVidia's boards I though it would be a good idea.  What better way to judge the performance of their cards than to put 'em up against their own standards?

    When running this test we ran them as nVidia recommended. We ran all three benchmarks at each resolution.  Glass, normal, and shiny.  We then averaged the score of the three and that became the total score for that resolution.  FPS aside, this is a beautiful benchmark to watch run.  Once we cranked up the FSAA it was damn near lifelike, very nice job on the developers part.

     

    You'll notice that for this non real world benchmark we did crank the FSAA up to 4x and 1024x768.  Basically speaking we put the hurt on these cards to the absolute best of our ability at a resolution most gamers play at.  While it drops to the 54 FPS range or so with the cards at default speed, you'll notice the OCSystems card (which comes at a higher default speed) jumps into the mid 60 FPS range, not too shabby. This is more than acceptable to game at.  Why not crank up the settings if the card can handle it without affecting game play?

     

    Next we'll take a look at 3dMark2001 and the overclockability of these boards.

    {mospagebreak title=Benchmarking and Overclocking&toc=1}

    BENCHMARKING (Continued...):

     

    3dMark2001 (Build 330):

     

     

    While real world game benchmarks are all that really should matter, we all know that in this community (performance PC Gamers) MadOnion.com's 3dMark2001 is the benchmarking standard of choice.  Even at default speeds these cards all pop out over 10k marks, overclock these cards to capatilize on their potential and you pop into the mid 11k's, nothing short of stellar for cards well under the $200USD mark. 

    All thru these benchmarks you've seen the OCSystems card appear to be performing higher, when we knew that it was do to the fact it came pre-overclocked.  In 3dMark even when we overclocked the rest of the card to even the playing field we see that it is still among the class of the, erm, well, class!  All of these scores are impressive and unheard of from a value card of the past.

     

    OVERCLOCKING:

    Now this is the part that when I'm reading a review I usually skip straight to (for those of you that did, WELCOME! ).  What makes that odd is that this is just about the most worthless part of a review, as it is the less likely benchmark or discussion that will directly reflect the card you buy and smack into your own system.  A prime example is the GeForce2's that SPeeD and I had.  All but identical cards, same manufacturers, the works.. BUT.. One of us got considerably higher than the other in core speeds, while the other slightly beat out the other in memory speeds.  So many variables go into how well the card will overclock, not the least of which is cooling, memory chip speed selected by the manufacturer, core yields, etc.  So yes, have no doubt, we are going to show you what we got these cards to, but I advise you take them with a grain of salt as the results DEFINITELY will vary!

    I'm not going to dig too much into detail about which card beat what cards because the graph speaks for itself pretty much, and like I said before, results will vary.

    That said, there ARE a few things I'd like to mention.  For starters the Leadtek card rattled my cage a bit.  In default speed benchmarks it did it's share of impressing, I couldn't wait to crank up the Mhz and see what it'd do.  Even with it's 4ns memory I expected this to be closer to the 600Mhz range.  I tried 3 different overclocking utilities and 2 driver installs to play it safe, the end results was always the same.  You will notice thru the benchmarks and even the OC'd performance in 3dMark that it still MORE than hangs with the competition, but in actual speed it was a little behind.

    Another thing I wanted to let you know is why the OCSystems card appears to have no gain in overclocking.  It is quite simple really, the card COMES overclocked at a speed they guarantee stable.  With one of the higher core speeds and a better than average memory speed, this can't be seen as a bad thing!

    The last thing I'd like to give a little detail on is the speeds themselves.  Non of these cards were overclocked to what many benchmarkers out there would call their limits.  I ran thru 3dMark2001 sometimes up to 7 times for one card until I got it to a speed where there were ABSOLUTELY no visual anomalies, artifacts, or any negative repercussions from overclocking the core.  I then at the speed I found, gamed with each card for a day of gaming (about 3hrs of gaming, hey, Im a loser!) and ran at that max speed I found to make sure it was stable there.  That generally means that there is still plenty of headroom to squeeze those extra marks out of these cards to beat your (insert neighbor, drinking buddy, parole officer here) if you need to stress the cards. 

    Bare this in mind as I've found it to almost always be true in benchmarking and overclocking video cards.  When the core reaches it's limit the screen will freeze and thats that.  If you make it thru a bit then all of a sudden with no warning it just locks up, 99% of the time it's that the core is too high and simply getting too hot to continue processing.  When you get artifacts and shaky performance, 99% of the time that is the memory pushed just a bit beyond it's capabilities.  Don't think this can't hurt your card!  Most of the time you'll be fine, but not always!  I had a MX card a while back that I pushed to the ABSOLUTE limit.  I could barely see the graphics thru the 1000 artifacts filling my screen (I think I was striving for 6000 3dMarks! ) and when she finally quit, that 32MB card only registered as a 16MB card!  I don't know if I smoked a channel on the core, or a set of ram, but while it still ran, it was castrated to say the least!  Just a bit of warning to ya...

    Alright, lets wrap this thing up with a look at the pricing of these cards, summary, and final words and recommendations..

    {mospagebreak title=Pricing and Conclusion&toc=1}

    PRICING:

    The below prices are in US Dollars and based on the best to the door price from Pricewatch except for the OCSystems card, which you must buy straight from their website.

     

     

    And that's all I have to say about that. (Ya GOTTA love Forrest Gump!)

     

    CARD THOUGHTS AND SUMMARIES:

    ABIT Siluro GeForce4 Ti4200 64MB DDR: The Abit card was pretty what we expected barring the no cooling on the memory.  Abit produced a reasonably priced card that was long on accessories and short on software.  That is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you look for in a retail packaged card.  Performance wise was almost comically dead on to expectations.  It performed right there with, yet slightly behind, the rest of the cards in default benchmarks.  Once you turned up the Mhz the Abit stepped up and showed that it earned the right to have Abit stamped on it.  What amazes me the most is that it did it WITHOUT memory cooling!  I don't know how many of you have touched the memory on the GF4 card while it was running, but let me tell you, it gets hot!  Not the "eh, thats slightly warm" hot, but the "@#@#$*! that's hot" variety. This card has a middle of the road price to go with it's middle of the road performance.   I can only think that if someone were to take their time with this board and add some cooling on the memory and maybe upgrade the retail GPU cooler, they could have a real screamer on their hands.

    HIGHS:LOWS:
    • Great Overclocker
    • Extensive Accessories Included
    • Minimal Software Included
    • No cooling on memory

     

    GAINWARD GSLE GeForce4 Ti4200 64MB DDR:  Gainward has always been known as a company that takes nVidia's reference design and dress it up a bit, their 4200 offering is no different.  With it's red PCB, red and aluminum orb like cooler, and red memory sinks this is one of the better looking cards in our roundup.  In the head to head benchmark competition this card carried it's weight with some to spare.  Overclocking was a little weak on the memory side, which was surprising as it came with 3.3ns memory.  The 3.3ns memory still leaves this card favored for the simple reason that since no two cards OC the same it appears we just got a bad luck card.  The better memory increases YOUR chances with this card.   Where this card stood apart from the rest was price.  At $128.00 this was the lowest price card of the bunch.  Considering the Gainward had better than average performance to go along with the stellar price, it makes it one of the better values in the rounup.Overall performance was solid and certainly this is a card worth considering.

    HIGHS:LOWS:
    • Best Priced Card
    • Beautiful Card (Red on Red)
    • 3.3ns Memory Chips
    • No S-Video Cable
    • Lower Than Expected Memory OC.

     

    WinFast LEADTEK A250 LE TD GeForce4 Ti4200: Leadtek has shown us that green PCB doesn't always translate into a boring looking card.  They take that PCB and slap the most intimidating looking cooling system I've ever seen on a retail board.  With a shiny aluminum sink that covers the GPU with active cooling, then spread out over the memory and wraps AROUND the card to provide cooling to the backside memory as well, this card just looks MEAN!  With 4 full version games included in their software bundle they didn't hold back in that department either.  Where this card REALLY stood out was default speed performance.  I still can't figure out how Leadtek did it, but their card flat out impressed in the face of the competition in our series of benchmarks.  Where the card failed to shine was overclocking in the memory.  It was more than adequate for the core, but the memory was the lowest OC of the group.  Fortunately for Leadtek that is to be taken with a grain of salt since overclocking varies so greatly from board to board.  When the day is done they have brought a card to the table with monster looks, a stellar software bundle, impressive performance, and an acceptable battery of accessories.  The only place this card legitimately fails to shine is price.  And it's not even so much that it's bad, as it's right near the average, it just doesn't beat the average.  Considering the cards features I'd say that's not a drawback that's valid once it's said and done.

    HIGHS:LOWS:
    • Awesome Cooler
    • Best default speed Performance
    • Great Software Bundle
    • Poor Memory Overclock
    • No DVI to D-Sub VGA converter

     

     

    MSI G4Ti4200 64MB DDR: MSI did nothing to hurt their reputation as a company that has always delivered great products that are long on goodies with their G4Ti4200 offering.  The card came in with the trendy red PCB so looks are already covered, they dressed up the reference cooling with clear Plexiglas which while it may not be the most functional, looks damn good.  One thing they fell short on was they offer no memory cooling.  As I've already said the DDR memory gets very hot, so to not include a cooling solution for it doesn't make much sense.  MSI continued to shine by offering the best software bundle in the group, and followed it up with a plethora of standard cabling accessories.  All of this came in the 2nd to least expensive card in the roundup.  Maybe I'm just a sucker for value but I was and remain impressed with MSI's card in this flavor.  It's default benchmarks while average, were not terrible, and it's killer overclocking performance rescued it from any hit it may have suffered for that.

    HIGHS:LOWS:
    • Nice Price
    • Excellent Software Bundle
    • Great Overclocker
    • 3.6ns Memory
    • No Memory Cooling
    • So-So default performance

     

    OCSystems Enhanced GeForce4 Ti4200: OCSystems decided to put together a 4200 that takes the guess work out of what kind of overclocking performance you'll be getting out of the box.  With a modified default speed of 319 on the core and 607 on the memory this card was head and shoulders ahead of the field in that catagory.  I'm sure it has A LOT to do with the fact they hand pick their cards and then strap some of the best retail cooling solutions available on the market to the board.  Boasting a ThermalTake G4-VGA copper cooler to the core, and tin coated copper sinks to ever memory module certainly had to help!  This card is a sizeable chunk more expensive than the rest of the cards which is an instant turn-off.  However when you do the math and realize they are including about $40 in after market cooling, giving you a guaranteed overclock speed so stable they actually make it DEFAULT, and they are 100% performance minded, that higher price doesn't seem so much higher.  Actually, if you were buy the additional cooling items they included for any of the other cards this one would be cheaper.   This card at "default" mopped the floor with the competition but that's to be expected.  When you overclock the rest of the field all of a sudden that performance gap is nil.  That doesn't change the fact OCSystems gives you a great card that actually offered more headroom to overclock it some more!  While this card may certainly not be the solution for everyone, I'm sure there's a market out there for people who just want the best and don't want the headache of hoping for a good card. 

    HIGHS:LOWS:
    • Tt G4-VGA cooler
    • Tin Coated Copper Ram Sinks.
    • GREAT performance
    • Best Overclocker
    • Highest Price card.
    • Non Existent software package

     

    GENERAL THOUGHTS:

    The video card maket recently was thrown upside-down with the introduction of the R9700 by Radeon.  No longer was the GeForce4 Ti4600 the top of the hill and that alone changed the landscape of where the value is.  Does the Ti4200 perform as well as a Ti-4600?  No.  Does the Ti-4200 come close to the same performance at a MUCH lower price?  YES.  The love affair we as system builders had with the 4600 as the best card money can buy is over, and we are left looking for the best performance "bang for the buck".  If you don't have the money or desire to shell out for the R9700 I personally think you're left with no choice but to go with a 4200.  For the price and all it offers it is simply a no brainer.

    Maybe I am an eternal skeptic but to be honest, my expectations going into this review were low.  I expected to see a card so castrated that it only marginally beat the GeForce3 I had been running for some time.  The bottom line is what I came out of this review with is several cards that with proper system and card tweaking can give a run for their money all my buddies with a Ti4400 and a few that own a Ti4600.  I would have no problem running one of these cards every day, and neither should you.

    By sticking with the 64MB cards for this review (which only made sense as we wanted to look at the value aspect of these cards) I figured we'd see lower performance.  In the past the 128Mb cards have been more gimmicky than anything else as chipsets were still unable to truly utilize the extra bandwidth of the higher memory.  This review tells me that generally that logic still holds true.  With the scores we're getting here were right in line (and sometimes better) that the cards with 128mb.  I can honestly tell you that if you are looking for stellar performance but don't want a price tag to match, the 4200 is a solution you would never regret.  

     

    FINAL THOUGHTS:

    If you were expecting me to declare a winner here, I'm afraid you are going to be disappointed.  Every manufacturer aims for a different audience, and their offerings vary slightly on some things and greatly on others.  I have let you know what you need to know to decide for yourself what card, if any of these, are for you. 

    I can tell you my personal favorites, but that in the end is all they are, my PERSONAL favorites.  Instead of going into detail about something that realistically should mean nothing to you in your selection process, I'll give you a one sentence summary of my thoughts of the cards.

    Abit - It's an Abit.  I've been an Abit whore since my first BE6 motherboard, what else can I say about that?
    Gainward - Rugged good looks (always wanted to say that in a review) match its gusty performance, no shame here.
    Leadtek - Impressed me to no end with it's cooling system in outstanding default speeds performance.
    MSI -  IMHO the best all around "Compete Package", a card that offers the best of all worlds.
    OC Systems - If raw performance is something you value, look no further.

     

    It's a given that I recommend a Ti4200 to you and anyone else looking to get a high performance video card that is actually affordable.  What I can't tell you is which card to get.  I can say that barring a few setbacks, there are no cards we've looked at today that would be a "bad choice", it comes down to what you personally look for in a video card.  Who better to make that call than you? 

    I do appreciate you checking out the roundup and want to send a HUGE thanks out to all the manufacturers that supported this roundup.  For these companies to have the confidence in their products to willingly give them to be compared against identical offerings from their competition tells me a great deal about the integrity of the companies.  Thanks guys!

    If you saw something here you'd like more information on, or have flames, props, or concerns, head to the DevHardware Forums, otherwise, maybe head to the front page and check out the GooSH!

     

     


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