Videocards, a Dozen Months
Hi, This week we are going all out on
videocards! A full years worth in fact. With the industry eagerly awaiting
the highest of high end videocards, the GeForceFX, and ATi's R350; this
spring is going to be good. However, with the lack of any real titles to
stress these videocards, it might make more sense for the rest of us to
choose something that is a little more down to earth, and not as
So without further delay, this weeks
newsletter presents a dozen videocards for you to read about - everything
from the 8X-MX440 - to the latest and greatest 8X-Ti4200 hybrids.
- Max Page
The Editor TM
We really liked the original MSI G4Ti4600-VTD but
probably its biggest downside was a rather plain looking appearance (if
you can call that a flaw). Style plays a key role in today's computer
hardware market and the older plain green G4Ti4600-VTD is the technical
equivalent of bell bottoms. To be honest it was a bit surprising to see
that MSI's first GeForce4 Ti4600 was using the green PCB - after all their
previous flagship videocard the G3Ti500-VTG was a rather spiffy red, and
so are most of MSI's motherboards. The new Champion Edition G4Ti4600-TD is
not red but purple in colour! Using the same shiny GPU cooler, the
videocard does look very fancy.
|ATI All in Wonder Radeon 8500
128 MB Edition
||ATI Radeon 8500 Videocard
ATi has carved out quite a niche market
with their All in Wonder videocard; they offer great flexibility
that often rivals mid-level professional video editing systems, but
with ease and use any consumer can appreciate. ATi's All in Wonder
(AIW for short) Radeon 8500DV is clocked slower (240 MHz core/340
MHz memory) then the standard Retail ATi Radeon 8500 (275 MHz
core/550 MHz memory) videocard however ATi knows that most consumers
looking at the AIW Radeon 8500DV aren't too concerned about 3D
Read the Rest...
The card had immense potential, and with such a
powerful chip it should have done well but in true ATi fashion the
8500 was plagued with driver problems. With subsequent driver
updates the card got better and better, and now it's performance is
even better than the GeForce3 Ti500 in certain benchmarks! ATI built
in support for DirectX 8.1 features so the Radeon 8500 is still one
of the most advanced videocards on the market today. Yes, even more
advanced than the GeForce4 Ti line of videocards!
Gamers have always held Gainward in high
regard because they openly embrace the overclocking community, and provide
software such as "EXPERTools" which can overclock the card with the push
of a button. Supporting overclocking in this way gives Gainward a little
more control over what settings are used, so hopefully less cards will be
fried in the process. One pet peeve I have with the Gainward GeForce 4
PowerPack GS Ultra/750XP surrounds it's somewhat confusing name which is
really too long. With so many different varieties of GeForce 4 videocards
out there - from the GeForce 4 MX420 to the GeForce 4 Titanium line - one
can often get lost in the sea of nomenclature.
|SiS Xabre600 Reference
||ECS AG400 SiS Xabre 400
|When SiS released the Xabre400 GPU
earlier this year, it was a huge step forward for budget-minded
gamers. Based on a 0.13 micron technology core
running at 300 MHz the new Xabre600 is an evolutionary advancement
of the older 250 MHz 0.15 micron process, Xabre400 core. The
Xabre600 reference card we are examining is backed up with 64MB of
DDR memory. The memory is made by Hynix and runs in sync with the
GPU at 300 MHz - what SiS call the "Duo300". The Xabre600 boasts
Pro8x8, so like it's predecessor, it is both DirectX8 compatible and
8x AGP compatible.
Read the Rest...
SiS is very hot at the moment and seems to be very
much on the ball in terms of producing chipsets. It all started
about a year ago with the release of the SiS 735 chipset for the
Athlon and has simple grown from there. That chipset was the fastest
thing when it came out, totally dominating the competition however
SiS's success was not limited to AMD platforms alone, their
645/645DX also was very powerful and popular. When SIS recently
announced the Xabre line of Graphics chipsets the hardware community
greated the news with some skepticism.
Read the Rest...
For half of the price of nVIDIA's
high-end GeForce4 Ti4600 videocard, you can grab yourself
90% if its performance with a GeForce4 Ti4200 based card. There's
really no argument about which GPU has been the best value in 2002;
the GeForce4 Ti4200 sits on that thrown, and rightly so. Now if you
ask any computer enthusiast which GeForce4 Ti4200 to get, you'd no
doubt hear the name "Albatron" mentioned more than once.
Albatron's original Ti4200P-Turbo
videocard took the hardware community by storm. The card combined a
Ti4400/4600 PCB and 3.3ns memory so well that many enthusiasts could
overclock it well past Ti4600 levels.
Even though the GeForce4 Ti line of videocards
are no longer the fastest on the market, the GeForce4 Ti4200 is still
easily the best value GPU around. With so much competition,
manufacturers are finding it increasingly difficult to differentiate
themselves from their rivals. To start things off, the Albatron GF4
Ti4200P Turbo uses the same 8-layer PCB design as
GeForce4 Ti4400/Ti4600 videocards. It has a very impressive and well
designed GPU heatsink (which we'll get into later), some flashy memory
sinks, TV-Output (using the Phillips 7104E) and finally a DVI output. It
seems that Albatron has taken a liking to the blue PCB's, and I for one
say they look pretty awesome!
|Albatron GeForce4 MX440
||Asus V8200Ti500 Pure Videocard
Alba... who? You're forgiven for not knowing who Albatron is
even though they're not exactly a new company. Like most other
manufacturers, have already adopted nVidia based videocards. The
Albatron GeForce4 MX440 videocard is
a no frills videocard targeted towards the budget conscious gamer.
Based on the reference nVidia GeForce4 MX440, the Albatron MX440
doesn't have many features.
While almost every other has been content to use the
reference designed GeForce3 Ti500, Asus has always been an
innovative company willing to do things their way. In usual form,
Asus have released two models of the V8200Ti500, the pure version
which is a no frills videocard (which is what we're reviewing today)
and the Deluxe model. As both cards use the same PCB layout it's
much cheaper for Asus to manufacturer the cards, only adding the
necessary components to bring the Deluxe version some TV in/out and
S-Video for example.
Read the Rest...
|Colin's Weekly Tech Tips|
|Turn off File Sharing|
While I like WindowsXP very much, it does have a few quirks
that bug me quite a bit... Probably one of my bigger qualms with
WinXP is that Simple File sharing is enabled by default. It poses
just too large of a security risk IMO and it also does not work very
well. Luckily it's easy to turn off!
Open up your Windows Explorer and go to the Tools menu and choose
Folder Options. From there click the View Tab and
uncheck the Use simple file sharing (Recommended)
and click the Ok button. Now when you click the sharing tab when
trying to share devices you will get a more detailed control like
you see in Windows 2000.
Please note, this tweak only works with WindowsXP
Pro and not Home edition.
|Colin's Tips Archives | The
|ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 8X AGP
||Introducing the Matrox
When ATi didn't counter nVIDIA's GeForce4
Ti GPU release with a new product of their own earlier this year
many people speculated that trouble was afoot in the same way that
Matrox has been faltering. To counter the gossip, ATI publicly
stated that they didn't see any value in revising the old R200
(Radeon 8500) core to compete against nVIDIA's new offering. The
only thing interesting on the back of the Radeon 9700 videocard is
the little aluminum strip. According to ATI, this piece of metal is
merely for EMI shielding since the Radeon 9700 Pro's power plant can
generate quite a bit of EMI signal noise.
In recent times, Matrox and video games technology
have not exactly gone hand in hand so it was with a lot of
anticipation that the information about the Parhelia was analysed.
Given that the Millennium G400 came out in May of 1999, Matrox have
been essentially upgrading the same basic GPU all the way up to the
G550. After seeing the advanced features they touted for their G400
card, (hardware bump mapping, etc.) made quickly obsolete by a flood
of products from Nvidia and ATI offering similar features and
significantly faster 3D performance, Matrox apparently gave up on
the gamers market.
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|The High Tech Low
Did someone say 'Barton?' Rumor has it - and reliable sources
confirm - that the successor to AMD's
'Thoroughbred' core is being readied this very moment for an early
February launch. Armed with 512KB of Level 2 cache, the new Athlon
XP will be able to complete more aggressively against the Pentium 4
without relying solely on frequency increases. While 'Barton'
processors are physically able to interface with any Socket 462
motherboard, it sounds like only a select few will be able to
support the chip at launch, at least until the other manufacturers
are able to release the necessary BIOS updates. Word has it that the
initial speed grade of the new core will be set to compete against
the 3.06GHz Pentium 4, though actual megahertz numbers still haven't
Looking even further into the future, it sounds like
ATI is putting the finishing touches on R350. Call
is a hunch or even a sound tip, but I think we'll be hearing more
from ATI about its next-generation part sooner than
later. Then again, before we see anything else from ATI,
NVIDIA will be unveiling its NV31 and NV34 value and
mainstream graphics processors, which are believed to complete with
ATI's RADEON 9500/9700 family. Until next week...
Killer Hardware Poll:
What hardware do you want
most in 2003?
(Athlon64 in the lead)
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