Since its release, the GeForce4 Ti range has received a heap of praise because of its excellent performance at high resolutions, even with the highest quality settings turned on. While that is all well and good, not everyone can afford to spend about US$400 on a single component. That is where the GeForce4 MX comes in. Join Asher "Acid" Moses as he takes a look at the Abit Siluro MX440. Will nVidia's mid-range budget chipset provide enough bang for your buck? Read on to find out!
IntroductionnVidia recently introduced the latest addition to its video card line, the GeForce4. The GeForce4 series consists of three budget chipsets, the MX420, MX440 and MX460, and three high-end chipsets, the Ti4200, Ti4400 and Ti4600. Since its release, the Ti range has received a heap of praise because of its excellent performance at high resolutions, even with the highest quality settings turned on. While that is all well and good, not everyone can afford to spend about US$400 on a single component. That is where the GeForce4 MX comes in.The GeForce4 MX has copped a bit of flack lately because, despite it being named a GeForce4, it is still based on the NV17 core and does not feature programmable pixel shaders or a second vertex shader like the GeForce3 and GeForce 4 Ti series does. That does not mean that this chipset is just a higher clocked GeForce2 MX, as it does include some great new features such as nView technology (multiple monitor support), Accuview Anti-aliasing (only present on the GeForce4), a crossbar memory controller and a Video Processing Engine (hardware DVD playback).Today we are taking a look at a card that is based on the GeForce4 MX440 chipset, the Abit Siluro MX440. Will nVidia's mid-range budget chipset provide enough bang for your buck? Read on to find out!
Abit Siluro MX440 -
Specifications- FeaturesnVidia GeForce4 MX440 256-bit 3D GPU64MB high-speed 128-bit DDR RAM memoryAGP 2X/4X with Fast Writes and AGP Texturing Support1 billion texels/sec. fill-rate6.4GB memory bandwidthIntegrated dual 350MHz DACs supporting two independent CRT displays at 2048 x 1536 resolution @ 75Hz nVidia nView technology supporting multiple displaysnVidia Lightspeed Memory Architecture II (LMA) Technology boosts effective memory bandwidthnVidia Accuview Antialiasing delivers unprecedented AA performance and quality to mainstream marketIntegrated TV encoder supporting 1024 x 768 resolution - Integrated Dual-Channel TMDS * Transmitter enables two independent LCD displays at resolutions up to 1280 x 1024nVidia Video Processing Engine (VPE) enables the highest-quality, full-frame rate, full-screen HDTV and DVD playbackAPI SupportOpenGL 1.3 and lower; DirectX 8.1 and lower- I/O Interface15-pin D-sub VGA connectorTV-out Connector (S-Video/Composite)DVI-I Supports LCD Monitor (Siluro GF4 MX VIO model only)Video-In Connector (Siluro GF4 MX VIO model only)- Software Bundled27.20 Detonator Drivers3Deep ColorNVFlashABIT SiluroDVDAdobe Acrobat ReaderDirectX 8.1
Abit Siluro MX440 -
Packaging and Software Bundle
Abit did not include much of a software bundle with the Siluro MX440. Aside from the driver CD, there was no third party software included. The driver CD itself does, however, include a copy of SiluroDVD (Abit's DVD player), 3Deep Color (supposedly corrects lighting, shading and color for all your 2D and 3D games), NVFlash (BIOS flashing utility) and Adobe Acrobat Reader.I quite liked the SiluroDVD program, simply because it is an easy-to-use DVD player that combines all of the features you would expect to find in a standard player, in addition to some advanced functionality such as full VCD 2.0 support, precision video decoding, a choice of user interfaces, and various video display options. You can play either DVD titles or VCDs (Video CD), and the program automatically determines the type of disc in your drive and uses the correct playback method.Also included on the driver CD was version 27.20 of nVidia's detonator drivers, and DirectX 8.1. I would have liked to see some games or other software included with the card, however, we must remember that Abit's target audience is the enthusiast market and the people buying their products most probably already own most of the games and software that would be bundled with the card. The smaller software bundle also reduces the overall cost of the product.To allow you to take advantage of the TV out feature, Abit includes three cables with the package. These are a Mini Din to S-Video and RCA Adapter, an S-Video extended cable, and a Composite (RCA) cable. As well as this, a detailed User's Manual is included that explains how to install the card and all of its software.
Abit Siluro MX440 -
Taking A Closer Look
The first thing I noticed when I took the card out of the box was the fact that instead of having Abit's usual black PCB (Printed Circuit Board), the Siluro MX440 is dark blue. Colored PCBs appeal to case modders because many of them install window kits into their cases, which allows the inside mechanics of the PC to be seen by everyone passing by. Let's face it, a colored component would look much more attractive than a regular brown/green component. To complement the blue PCB, Abit also has an attractive silver heatsink/fan unit cooling the GPU. I found that because of its large size, the heatsink/fan unit is basically touching the first PCI device when installed. For optimal cooling performance, leave the top PCI slot empty.The Siluro MX440 features a core clock speed of 275MHz, and a memory speed of 400MHz. There are four 16MB memory chips on the card, two on the front and two on the back. This gives a total of 64MB onboard DDR memory. The memory chips on the card are made by Samsung and are rated at 4ns. What this means is, in theory, the memory should be able to run at 500MHz without a problem. We'll get to overclocking a little later in the review though.
The card we received does not include a DVI connector, however, the slightly more expensive Abit Siluro MX440 VIO card includes not only a DVI connector, but video-in as well. The TV output that is included on the card supports resolutions of up to 1024x768, however, most televisions won't run at more than 800x600, or even 640x480.
Abit Siluro MX440 -
Benchmarking- Test SystemProcessor: Intel Pentium 4 2GHzMotherboard: Abit BD7-RAIDMemory: OCZ 256MB PC2100 DDR SDRAMVideo Card: Abit Siluro MX440, Abit Siluro Ti200Hard Disk: Quantum Fireball Plus LM 15GB 7200RPMDrivers: 27.20 Detonator drivers, DirectX 8.1Operating System: Windows 2000 ProfessionalSoftware Used: Quake III Arena, 3dMark2001 SE and Max Payne.- TestingResults - Quake III Arena High Quality 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1600x1200 32-bit color
Results - 3dMark2001 SE 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1600x1200 32-bit color
Results - Max Payne High Quality 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1600x1200 32-bit color
Results - Quake III Arena 1024x768 32-bit color - 2x, 4x, Quincunx FSAA
Results - Quake III Arena 1280x1024 32-bit color - 2x, 4x, Quincunx FSAA
Abit Siluro MX440 -
OverclockingAbit have customized their drivers so that there is a "Clock Frequency" tab in the advanced display options by default. This saves you having to download a patch or third party program such as PowerStrip to overclock your card. We were able to overclock the Siluro MX440 to 320MHz/480MHz core/memory speed with the stock cooler installed. At this speed, the card was running rock solid with no image artifacts whatsoever. This is a very decent overclock and at those speeds I found about a 10% increase in performance. As usual, Abit lives up to its reputation of providing very overclockable products.ConclusionOverall, I was quite impressed with the Abit Siluro GeForce4 MX440. The GeForce4 MX chipset is a strong attempt at creating a high performing, low cost graphics solution. There are, however, a few trade offs. Firstly, the GeForce4 MX is not a DirectX 8 part like the GeForce3 and GeForce4 Ti cards. With most newer games being based around DirectX 8.0, you may be disappointed down the road if you purchase this card as it won't be able to take full advantage of the DirectX 8 features.Accuview anti-aliasing provides great image quality with a relatively low performance hit. nVidia's nView technology is also a great addition for those of you that like to run multiple monitors, but require higher gaming performance than that given to you by competing Matrox/ATi products.When considering the results, please keep in mind that the GeForce3 Ti200, although being an older card, is around US$80 more expensive than the GeForce4 MX440. The GeForce3 range has also been phased out by nVidia, so in the near future you will have quite a hard time finding a GeForce3 card in stores. The bottom line is, although the GeForce4 MX is slightly primitive technology wise, you will not find a card that offers better performance for such a low price.- ProsGood performanceExcellent valueGreat overclocking resultsAccuview anti-aliasingnView Technology- ConsSmall-ish software bundleLacks DirectX 8 hardware supportRating - 8.5/10
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