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Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750-8X XP Golden Sample

The Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750-8X XP is a great VIVO and gamer solution. This Ti4800SE is actually a Ti4400 with 8X AGP support, but it easily overlcocks to Ti4600 speeds (300/650) with Gainward’s included ExperTool utility. Overall, it’s a great package and high in value.

[review_ad]Introduction


You might be wondering, “What the heck is an Ultra/750-8X XP?” Well, it’s Gainward-speak for Ti4800SE, which is NVIDIA-speak for Ti4400 with AGP 8X support. Make sense? No, okay. :-) It doesn’t really matter what it’s called though. What really counts to most buyers is the good ol’ bang-for-your-buck factor. Gainward’s “Golden Sample” line fits this niche pretty well because the cards are guaranteed to overclock. The included manual says it best I think:

“A ‘Golden Sample’ board is extremely special: Golden Sample boards are put through a set of punishing and arduous performance tests. Only a board that passes these tests will be qualified as a ‘Golden Sample’ and is then enabled for ‘Enhanced Mode Settings’.”

Sounds good, eh? But does it really mean anything or is it just marketing mumbo jumbo? After testing this card, I have to say I believe exactly what that statement says, and I think overclockers should definitely pay attention to cards marked “Golden Sample.” If you want to see what the “Enhanced Mode Settings” are and just how well this card overclocks, then please keep reading.

Specifications & Features


Specifications:

Here are the specifications and features of the Ultra/750-8X XP Golden Sample as listed on Gainward.com.

  • Gainward’s award winning High-Peformance/Wide-Bandwidth hardware design integrating NVIDIA’s latest GeForce4 Ti 4800-SE graphics processor and 128MB (Samsung 4M*32/3.3ns) of the fastest DDR memory (BGA)
  • Default Core Clock/Memory Clock:275MHz/550MHz
  • Gainward’s unique red powerful cooling Fan
  • Gainward’s unique red cool heat sink
  • Gainward’s “Golden Sample” products guarantee outstanding stability and performance.
  • Support Video capture from TV, VCR, DV or camcorder with Composite and S-Video connectors
  • Providing a video-out connector or flicker free functionality both composite vidoe and s-video for PAL and NTSCT for smooth video recording and video editing
  • Accelerated DVD playback with enhanced motion compensation in hardware. A powerful package of Video-Editing-Software is also included
  • Includes Gainward’s EXPERTool utility for customized performance enhancements and efficient desktop management. Performance enhanced, accelerated software drivers for all major operation systems and APIs
  • Easy Plug-and-Play AUTORUN installation from CD-ROM, supporting 8X, 4X, and 2X AGP.
  • Supports LCD output with DVI connector
  • Video-out support (NTSC/PAL) TV system

API Support:

  • DirectX 8.1
  • Direct3D, DirectDraw , DirectVideo
  • OpenGL 1.3 for Windows98/98E/XP/2000/NT

OS Support:

  • Windows95/98/98E/2000/ME/XP

Features:

  • Integrated NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4800-SE GPU with AGP 8X
  • Supporting 128MB high-speed 128bit DDR RAM memory
  • nView Multi-Display Technology provides flexibility and control for using multiple displays, supporting any combination of desktop VGA monitors, DVI displays or TV sets
  • Shading Rasterizer Technology allows software developers to calculate lighting characteristics on a per-pixel basis in real time
  • Integrated Lightspeed Memory Architecture (LMA) II increases memory bandwidth efficiency for unmatched performance
  • Accuview Antialiasing delivers unbeatable visual quality and frames rates
  • Video Processing Engine (VPE) enables the highest-quality, full-frame rate, full-screen HDTV and DVD without requiring a high-performance CPU
  • Integrated Second-Generation Transform and Lighting Engine (T&L) provide a powerful, balanced PC platform and enable scenes with extremely high polygon counts
  • Digital Vibrancy Control Technology can adjust color controls digitally to compensate for the lighting conditions
  • Support Video Playback Architecture The video scalar function provides the ability to render a video stream in a YUVcolor space onto an RGB graphics display, either within a window or a full screen. It supports YUV overlay surfaces in off-screen memory.
  • AGP 3.0 support for 8x and 4x and AGP 2.0 support for 4x, 2x, 1x

Package Contents:

  • Gainward GeForce4 Ti4800SE Card
  • Quick Start Manual (available in English/Chinese/Japanese/French/German/Italian)
  • Performance enhanced accelerator driver 98/98SE/2000/ME/XP
  • Video-In & Video-Out cable
  • DVI connector
  • Game: Serious Sam
  • InterVideo’s WinCinema (includes WinDVD 4, WinRip 2, WinProducer 3 CD)


Gainward Ultra/750-8X XP Box & Contents
(click thumbnail for bigger pic)

Retail Box Front

Retail Box Back

Card Front & Case Badge

Card Back & Case Badge

Card Connectors

Retail Box Contents

One of the first things you notice about the Ultra/750-8X XP is the color — red. I really like the looks of this card, including the simple but stylish heatsink and fan. Additionally, the red ramsinks look great and will help this card reach its overclocking potential. For those of you who noticed the strange looking black connector up towards the VGA connector, that is a FireWire connector. I’ve never seen this on a graphics card, but apparently Gainward offers a PowerPack that includes a FireWire card. I was also pleasantly surprised by the addition of that cool case badge you can see in the pics above. Thumbs up to Gainward for that nice touch. It’s important not to “judge a book by its cover” when you look at the rest of the package contents.

At first glance, the contents of this package aren’t really all that impressive, especially seeing that it’s only the first Serious Sam that is included and not the second one! That’s definitely an oldie but goodie, but it’s not worth more than $5 or $10. Upon closer inspection though, you can see that WinCinema isn’t just some lightweight, filler CD. The WinCinema CD actually includes InterVideo’s WinDVD 4, WinRip 2 and WinProducer 3 CD. That’s a nice package for this VIVO capable card and gives you DVD playback, MP3 playback/recording and movie making capabilities. If you check out InterVideo’s product page, you can see that this package is worth almost $140! That’s quite a nice addition to this package, but I, like most of you, can’t stop scratching my head over the game choice.

The rest of the package includes your basics, such as the VIVO (Video-In/Video-Out) cable and the DVI-to-VGA adapter, which are both a nice red color to match the cool red PCB of the card. The VIVO cable is plenty long and very flexible. Also included in the package is the Gainward PowerCD. On this CD, Gainward has included the 41.04 Detonator drivers from NVIDIA and Gainward’s ExperTool utility. Finally, Gainward includes a nice Quick Start Guide / Manual. This is actually one of the better video card manuals that I’ve seen. The descriptions and instructions are above average in length and quality; plus they include screenshots and drawings to accompany the explanations, making it all easier to understand.

Installation


Installation was as boring and uneventful as usual, which is a good thing. I uninstalled my Leadtek Ti4600, and then popped in the Gainward Ti4800SE. Next, I powered up my PC and after booting installed the 41.09 Detonators. Everything went fine, so I moved on to installing Gainward’s ExperTool. This was also a quick and brainless installation. Instead of going the route I did, you can just stick in the Gainward PowerCD and let it autorun. Then choose to install the included 41.04 drivers and tell it to also install ExperTool.

I chose to have ExerTool load in my system tray. I was surprised to see just how handy this “display and desktop enhancement utility program” is.


Gainward Ultra/750-8X XP — ExperTool
(click thumbnail for bigger pic)

ExperTool DeskTop Settings

Performance Settings (Core/Memory Clock)

As you can see in the first pic, ExperTool provides a quick way to adjust your desktop settings, such as resolution, color setting, refresh rate and font size. The other tabs also include useful information, all of which can be quickly accessed via the system tray icon’s popup menu. The section that most users will be interested in though is the performance section, which includes a “Safe Mode” and “Enhanced Mode” button. Safe mode is what the card is set to at default — 275MHz core / 550 MHz memory. Enhanced mode, on the other hand, is what makes this card a “Golden Sample.” Clicking this button pushes the card’s clocks to 290MHz core and 620MHz memory. The card is guaranteed and tested to work at this speed.

Performance


Test System:

BIOS Settings:

  • Memory Timings: 2-2-2-5 (Cas – T(RP) – T(RCD) – T(RAS))
  • FSB: 144MHz
  • Multiplier: 12 (resulting processor frequency approximately 1.73GHz)
  • Memory: Sync – 288MHz

I tested the Ultra/750-8X XP using the following benchmark tools: Futuremark’s 3DMark2001 SE, Quake 3 Arena (Q3Bench), ChameleonMark and Codecreatures. All benchmarks were run with performance set to “Balanced.”

For comparison, I tested the Ultra/750-8X XP Ti4800SE at default clock settings of 275MHz core / 550MHz memory, and then I upped it to Ti4600 speeds — 300MHz core / 650MHz memory. Since I set it to Ti4600 speeds, it was only natural to compare it to a 4600, right? That’s why I compared it to the Leadtek WinFast A250 Ultra TD GeForce4 Ti4600. Keep in mind that the Gainward Ti4800SE is an AGP 8X card while the Leadtek Ti4600 is only a 4X card.

3DMark2001 SE

The first three graphs below show tests with varying levels of antialiasing (AA) enabled and no anisotropic filtering. The last graph only compares the overclocked Ti4800SE to the Ti4600 with anisotropic filtering set to 4X. When running these tests, I kept all the default settings except for textures, which I changed to 32-bit.

3DMark2001SE - NoAA

3DMark2001SE - 2xAA

3DMark2001SE - 4xAA

3DMark2001SE - 4xAniso

Codecreatures Benchmark Pro

For the Codecreatures benchmark, I simply ran the official benchmark and recorded the score. Anisotropic filtering and antialiasing were both disabled.

Performance Continued


Quake 3 Arena

For all the Q3A tests, I used version 3.00 beta of Q3Bench with the following settings: trilinear filtering, 32-bit textures, 32-bit colors, maximum texture detail, high quality sky and high geometric detail. My Q3A version was 1.31, and I used the “Four” demo. Anisotropic filtering was again disabled.

Q3A NoAA

Q3A 2xAA

ChameleonMark

ChameleonMark is a benchmarking demo created by NVIDIA to showcase the advanced pixel and vertex shading techniques of DirectX 8.1. For those who have never seen it, the demo features a chameleon walking across a tree branch and renders the scene with three different skins (glassy, real and shiny). Just like the other tests, anisotropic filtering was turned off here. I like this demo because it really seems to test the card and not all the other hardware you have installed, which makes it useful for directly comparing different NVIDIA-based cards.

ChameleonMark 1024x768 NoAA

ChameleonMark 1024x768 2xAA

ChameleonMark 1280x1024 NoAA

ChameleonMark 1280x1024 2xAA

Conclusion


Gainward definitely has a golden product with the GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750-8X XP VIVO Golden Sample Ti4800SE. It’s a great package for overclockers for sure, but it also is a great buy for VIVO fans who want to do some video editing. The included game (Serious Sam) is questionable but still fun, and the media software (InterVideo WinCinema package) adds a lot of value to this package.

I had no problems at all overclocking to Ti4600 clock speeds (300MHz core/650MHz memory), and I’m willing to bet it could go a little higher easily thanks to the 3.3ns Samsung RAM Gainward chose to use. Plus, with Gainward’s ExperTool, overclocking couldn’t be any easier. It’s nice to see a video card company include such a handy utility that is newbie and diehard guru friendly. Since this Golden Sample card is guaranteed to work at the “enhanced mode settings,” you have no reason not to clock it at least that high. Just click the button, and you’re set at a nice little overclock of 290/620. Right out of the box, with practically no effort, you get more than what you paid for. That’s what makes this card a good value and puts it high on the bang-for-your-buck scale in my opinion.

I have very little doubt in my head that this has to be one of the best NV28 offerings on the market. I also would bet it’s one of the best offerings in its price range of any video card package available right now. It’s one of the best values that I’ve seen in a long time. If you want to see how this card compares to one of its ATi competitors – the 9500 Pro – then I recommend checking out this review at VR-Zone. Now it’s time to crank up my AXP1700+ TBred B and the Ultra/750-8X XP GS to see what she can REALLY do!!! ;-)

Pros:

  • Easily overclock to or near Ti4600 clock speeds (and probably higher)
  • Great value (great retail package)
  • Nice media apps included
  • Great looking red PCB, ramsinks and heatsink and fan
  • 3 year warranty

    Cons:

  • Only game included is Serious Sam
  • Not a DirectX 9 card

    The bottom line is that with this card, you can probably get Ti4600 performance (or at least close or maybe even better in some cases), but it’s smaller and cheaper than a Ti4600!!! The PCB is around an inch shorter than the Ti4600, and the price for this card is around $185-195. I highly recommend this Gainward Ultra/750-8X XP Golden Sample Ti4800SE and find it easy to give it a 9 out of 10 and the Golden Bear Award! Let’s hope Gainward keeps targeting the overclocking / enthusiast niche!

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