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PC Buyers Guide - 29th April 2002 - Video Cards

When it comes to buying new hardware for your beloved system, those who aren't entirely up-to-date on all the latest news or what's Hot or Not often need a bit of guidance to make an informed decision on their all important purchases. In what will be a guide which is updated every two weeks by our newest writer Nick Swan, we present you with the first installment of our PC Buyers Guide.

| Guides | Posted: Apr 29, 2002 4:00 am

Video Cards

 

- Leadtek A250 Ultra TDH (GeForce4 Ti4600)

 

 

Since the GeForce4 was released onto the market a bit more than a month ago, it has redefined the meaning of performance desktop graphics. In some tests, the GeForce4 scored more than 50% higher than the previous speed champions, the Radeon 8500 and GeForce3 Ti500.

 

The GeForce4 is available in 2 flavors at the moment, the top of the range GeForce4 Ti4600, and the middle of the range GeForce4 Ti4400. In the coming month, the GeForce4 Ti4200 will be released, which is a sub US$200 performance card. The only difference between the GeForce4 models lies in the speeds they are clocked at. The specs are:

 

- GeForce4 Ti4600

 

Core: 300MHz

 

RAM: 325MHz

 

- GeForce4 Ti4400

 

Core: 275MHz

 

RAM: 275MHz

 

- GeForce4 Ti4200

 

64MB version

 

Core: 250MHz

 

RAM: 250MHz

 

128MB version

 

Core: 250MHz

 

RAM: 222MHz

 

Note: Remember, these cards use DDR RAM which means the RAM speed is doubled.

 

All GeForce4 Ti4400/4600 cards have 128MB of RAM. The GeForce4 has been updated quite heavily since the GeForce3, but it doesn't include any major steps forward. The main additions to the GeForce4 are the nFiniteFX II engine, the addition of a second vertex shader, improvements to the pixel shaders, Accuview, nView, which is basically the ability to use a dual monitor set up, and LMA II (Lightspeed Memory Architecture), which is one of the biggest reasons why the GeForce4 has such a performance increase over the GeForce3.

 

Enough about the GeForce4 and onto the Leadtek card. The Leadtek card certainly isn't the most feature rich on the market, but it can still hold its own. The card comes clocked at the standard 300/650, has 128MB of 2.8ns DDR memory, an analogue monitor port, TV out, DVI, hardware monitoring (only on the TDH model), Winfox suite of tools (ranging from overclocking utilities to games), and the mother of all heatsinks! If you look at most other GeForce4 Ti4600's, they feature no RAM sinks, and a solitary core fan. Leadtek obviously wanted to prove a point and increase the overclocking potential of the card, so they put on a massive heat sink that covers both the RAM and the core, and put two 30mm fans onto it. To cap it off, they put a passive heat sink on the back of the card (the same size as the front heat sink).

 

The performance of this card is unbelievable; like the other Ti4600 cards but doesn't have any real advantage over the other cards. Nearly all the cards these days are scoring within a few frames of each other. The real selling point of the card is its excellent overclockability. The massive heat sink and dual fans give it an edge over the other cards, which often don't even have RAM sinks.

 

The GeForce4 Ti4600 is without a doubt the leading video card on the market. If you're looking for performance and overclockability, you can't go past this Leadtek card.

 

However, if you want the performance without the overclocking ability and a much lower price, try the Sparkle GeForce4. If you're looking for features, the MSI GeForce4 is an excellent bet.

 

- Find the best price on Leadtek A250 Ultra!

 

- Leadtek A250 TDH (GeForce4 Ti4400)

 

This card is exactly the same as the one above, except it is classed as a Ti4400, which means it has a lower core/memory speed (see above for speeds). The performance on the card is excellent, but obviously not up to Ti4600 speeds. The overclocking of the card is also very good, but you won't be able to get the RAM to the same levels as a Ti4600 overclock, as this card runs slower 3.6ns memory.

 

Again, if you're after features, go the MSI route, and price is the Sparkle route. But if you want performance and excellent overclocking, the Leadtek is the card for you.

 

- Find the best price on Leadtek A250!

 

- GeForce3 Ti200

 

 

While the GeForce4 Ti4400 is an excellent price/performance card, it's still AUD$700 dollars, which is a lot of money. If you're after something that is a lot cheaper, but still provides excellent performance, then the GeForce3 Ti200 is for you.

 

The GeForce3 has the nfiniteFX engine, which supports programmable vertex and pixel shaders. This is the main reason the card was chosen over the cheaper GeForce4 MX as it gives the card DX8 hardware support, which the GeForce4 MX (all versions) lacks.

 

The GeForce3 also has the first incarnation of LMA, supports shadow buffers, and according to nVidia, the nfiniteFX engine of the GeForce3 gives consumers true 3D textures. When the GeForce4 MX was released, nVidia ceased production of the GeForce3 line. However, nearly all online stores still stock the Titanium versions, so supply shouldn't be an issue.

 

The best brands to go for include ASUS, Abit, Gainward, Hercules, Leadtek and MSI. The Hercules card will be very difficult to find as they switched camps to ATI a while ago, but they are worth getting if you can. All the other cards perform well and usually overclock well. The choice is yours; go for whichever one suits your budget and your desires for features.

 

- Find the best price on GeForce3 Ti200 graphics cards!

 

Further Reading: Read and find more Guides content at our Guides reviews, guides and articles index page.

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