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Leadtek A250 Ultra GF4 Ti4600 Review

Leadtek has been well known as a high quality video card manufacturer for some time now. But can they continue this reputation? Come join Cameron "Sov" Johnson as he takes a look at their Mega Video Card; the A250 Ultra GeForce4 Ti4600. It's time to separate the men from the boys!
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Published Tue, May 21 2002 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:25 PM CDT
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: Leadtek

Leadtek A250 - Introduction

IntroductionnVidia is pretty much a household name for the hardware community. Ever since they released the very first 3D graphics card, called the Riva 128ZX, to take on Intel i740 and S3 Savage 3D, they have had nothing but success in the 3D market. TNT, TNT2, GeForce and GeForce 2 have been among the great 3D cards of all time, and right beside them have been many multimedia companies; but none more famous then Leadtek.Leadtek was established in 1986. Since this time, they have been making computer products from motherboards to advanced 3D video cards for end users. What really put Leadtek on the map was its line of GeForce 2 cards with EliteMT memory that allowed for the most overclockable video card around. This won many praises out there in the hardware sector for having the most versatile and overclockable product ever. Since that time, Leadtek has focused on the enthusiast market which is where everything seems to be going these days. They have a rather impressive line-up with their graphics cards and are more than renowned for their overclocking.nVidia recently introduced the latest addition to its video card line, the GeForce4. The GeForce4 family consists of three mainstream and three budget chips. The budget Chips are the MX420, MX440 and MX450. The mainstream are Ti4200, Ti4400 and the Ti4600, nVidia's flagship.Thanks to Rectron in Australia, we have been given a sample of Leadtek's offering based on the Ti4600 GPU, the A250 Ultra.

Leadtek A250 - Specifications

Specifications- Chipset Features The nVidia nfiniteFX™ II Engine enables a virtually infinite number of special effects that deliver the next leap in realism to 3D graphics Dual programmable Vertex Shaders Advanced programmable Pixel Shaders nVidia Lightspeed Memory Architecture™ II nVidia Accuview™ Antialiasing 3D Textures Shadow Buffers 4 dual-rendering pipelines 8 texels per clock cycle Dual cube environment mapping 128MB high-speed DDR RAM memory High-Definition Video Processor (HDVP) AGP 4X with Fast Writes AGP 4X / 2X and AGP Texturing support 32-bit color with 32-bit Z/stencil buffer Z-correct true, reflective bump mapping High-performance 2D rendering engine Hardware accelerated real-time shadows True-color hardware cursor Integrated hardware transform engine Integrated hardware lighting engine High-quality HDTV/DVD playback TV-Out and Video Modules Multibuffering (double, triple, quad) for smooth animation and video playback Microsoft DirectX and S3TC texture compression nVidia Unified Driver Architecture (UDA) Up to 10.4 GB/sec. memory bandwidth 136 million vertices/sec. 4.8 billion AA sample/sec. fill rate 1.23 trillion operations/sec.- Compatibility Complete Linux drivers, including full OpenGL Microsoft DirectX optimizations and support Complete OpenGL 1.3 and OpenGL support WHQL-certified Windows XP/2000/NT/ME/98/95 Windows XP/2000/NT/ME/98/95 display drivers Microsoft DirectDraw, Direct3D, Support operation system under Windows XP/2000/NT/ME/98/95 Linux compatible API support OpenGL 1.3 and lower Microsoft DirectX 8.1 and lower

Leadtek A250 - Package and Software Bundle

Package and Software
The sample we got from Leadtek and Rectron was the full retail sample, so what you see here is what you get. The retail card comes with a large assortment of accessories that I feel many of you would like to know about. As far as games are concerned you don't get very much, you get DroneZ and Gunlok, that's it, but they are full version games that can be played online, so you don't get short changed. Personally I would like to see Aquanox added, as its a very good benchmark program as well as a super game.
From the picture above you can see the contents of the packaging fully removed and ready to be used. In the box you get the A250 Ultra video card (that helps), Driver CD, User manual, S-Video TV cable, S-Video to RCA converter, RCA cable and Games Pack CD's. In all that's pretty much everything you need.

Leadtek A250 - Features

The Card
The first thing I thought I would mention is that like all GeForce4 cards currently on the market, the Leadtek A250 Ultra is based around nVidia's reference design. The only difference between the Leadtek card and the reference design is that it features a totally different and radical cooling solution. The heatsink/fan unit is quite large and features an assortment of fins to increase the surface area, which as some of you may know also increases cooling performance.Heatsink
As mentioned above, the heatsink is a new and radical design, mostly due to the fact that it is the only dual fan cooling solution we have seen for the Ti4600 card at the time of review. Another interesting fact is that the heatsink stretches all the way around to the back to cool the Samsung BGA memory and the backside of the GPU itself. We would have taken off the sink but it is a nearly impossible process without breaking the pins.The Fans that Cool
Leadtek has done a good job on the fans for the cooling. These fans are 40mm in size and run at 300RPM. They have a guard on them to prevent cables getting caught in the fan and a dust protection layer. Yes, it has a mesh inside to protect the fan from dust, another first for VGA cards.TV Out
Leadtek has decided to use the same TV encoder chip that the X-Box itself uses. This produces a much better quality TV out as well as DVD to TV playback experience. However, Leadtek still hasn't mastered it fully, some less than stellar DVD quality is still present, but better than previous GeForce3 efforts.

Leadtek A250 - Benchmarks - Test System/MadOnion

BenchmarksTest SystemProcessor: Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz (Northwood)Memory: 2x 256MB DDR-333 Kingmax (512MB) Motherboard: EPoX 4BDA2+Hard Disk: Seagate Barracuda ATA-3 UDMA 100 7200RPM Drivers: nVidia Detonator v28.32Software Used: 3DMark2000, 3DMark2001, Quake III Arena, Aquanox, Jedi Knight II, Max Payne, DronezMark, Star Trek Voyager Elite Force.Synthetic 3D Benchmarks - 3DMark3DMark20003DMark2000 is a synthetic Direct3D benchmark that is compatible with DirectX 7. It takes full advantage of the Geforce2, ATI Radeon and DirectX 7 enhancements. 3DMark2000 has become one of the world's most used benchmark utilities.
Nothing out of the ordinary here. As fully expected, the A250 Ultra crushes the GeForce3 Ti500 card. More memory and a new engine is attributed to this.3DMark2001 SE3DMark2001 SE is the latest installment in the popular 3DMark series. By combining DirectX 8.1 support with completely new graphics (including the GeForce4), it continues to provide benchmark results that empower you to make informed hardware assessments.
Again, no surprises here, we can see this to be a one sided affair so far, as expected.

Leadtek A250 - Page6 Benchmarks - OpenGL

Real-World OpenGL BenchmarksQuake III ArenaQuake III Arena is a real-world OpenGL benchmark that we have been using here at TweakTown for quite a while now because it has proven itself to be one of the best gaming benchmarks around to compare a range of different products.
In the first of our real-world benchmarks, we see that the synthetic results do justice to the real-world results. The GeForce4 Ti4600 gives a rather big bashing to the GeForce3 Ti500 card.Star Trek VoyagerStar Trek Voyager is a real-world OpenGL benchmark. Based on the Quake III Arena engine, this game is a OpenGL master utilizing DirectX 8. We also apply the new Opt3D patch to allow for the use of Hardware T&L's use as well as new optimizations for AMD Athlon XP and Pentium 4 SSE2.
In Voyager we see the GeForce4 take a huge lead due to higher memory bandwidths available. Voyager loves more memory throughput than anything.Jedi Knight IIJedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is a newly released OpenGL game that many have been waiting for. It has much improved graphics over its predecessor. It fully supports advanced shaders, as well as very high texture resolutions and effects. There is one demo included in the multi-player section that is good for benchmarking use. In order to enable the benchmarking mode, you have to make a shortcut to the jk2mp.exe program located in the GameData folder of Jedi Knight II. You have to put the switch "+set sv_cheats1" (no quotes) at the end of the line in the Target Area so that it looks like this: "C:\Star Wars JK II Jedi Outcast\GameData\jk2mp.exe" +set sv_cheats 1. The demo file used is jk2ffa.
This is one of the new benchmarks we have added to TweakTown as we have seen it used on other sites. And frankly, it is a great game to play so why not have it in the Benchmarks. JKII is perfectly adapted for the GeForce4 video cards with all the latest OGL 1.3 requirements you can really get some super results. As expected, a total whooping of the GeForce3 Ti500 is evident.

Leadtek A250 - Benchmarks - Direct3D

Real-World Direct3D BenchmarksMax PayneMax Payne is a new generation DirectX 7/8 game. This game is based on Hardware T&L advancements as well as many other features of the Intel Pentium 4 and Athlon XP.
Max Payne is a pretty recent addition. Since it relies on DirectX 8.1, it is fully adapted for all the highest quality graphics and takes full advantage of GeForce4. Here, not such a huge whooping over the GeForce3, but enough to give it the crown here.AquanoxAquanox is one of the latest installments to our benchmark software. This game is based heavily on DirectX 8 and 8.1 advancements and is designed to stress video cards to their ultimate limit, in all the best D3D benchmark to date.
Aquanox is personally one of my favorite tests. Its heavy reliance on DirectX 8.1 makes it an ultimate VGA stress tester, great for testing 3D acceleration on motherboards too. GeForce4 takes the commanding lead, as we all expected.DronezMarkDronezMark is a Benchmarking demo program based on the DroneZ 3D engine. Thus, this demo runs on DX8.1 commands and is optimized for Pentium 4 SSE2 and AMD Athlon 3DNow Professional technologies, yet another great test for VGA cards and 3D acceleration of motherboard chipsets.
This is another of the new benchmarks we have added. DroneZ may not be the best game for single player, but it is one excellent benchmark program. This one has been under testing to be added for some time now, and why not now to add it. We see that the Geforce4 takes the lead once more to finish off out benchmarks.

Leadtek A250 - Conclusion

ConclusionLeadtek's latest offering into the extreme graphics line is one of great success. The card itself has only a few problems. One notably is that that card is very long, and if you have a motherboard with poorly placed memory or IDE connectors, you are going to have troubles. Most new boards however, do still fit this card in, even if a bit cramped.Performance-wise, the card was superb. Its default speeds were enough to make me want to just run benchmarks and games on it all day to see those lovely FPS scores come up. Overclocking was nothing super, but then the Ti4600 is a chipset that is running extremely close to its actual limits. With an overclock of 317/689 you get a bit more power out of the card.Price-wise, the card is well above most peoples budget. Coming in at over $800 AUD, that's a lot for one video card. Moreover, Ti4400 cards are reaching Ti4600 default speeds for $300+ dollars less than the GF4 Ti4600, making Ti4600 a rather expensive novelty.- ProsUltra FastStableOverclocks2 retail gamesBetter than average TV out performance- ConsVery ExpensiveRating - 9.5/10 and TweakTown's Editors Choice Award

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