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Leadtek WinFast A310 Ultra TD MyVivo

Leadtek’s MyVIVO line always seem to pack in great features and good bundles, and in general, Leadtek products perform quite well. So does the WinFast A310 follow that trend? Read the article to see how this GeForceFX 5600 Ultra card fares in our testing.

[review_ad]Introduction


Leadtek has been around for many years, providing motherboards, graphics boards and other hardware for the masses. For the past few years, Leadtek has been producing graphics boards based on NVIDIA’s latest silicon. Naturally, the company’s current selection of graphics boards is based on NVIDIA’s FX family of GPUs. As many of Leadtek’s graphics boards have before them, all the boards in this latest family carry the WinFast moniker. They are separated into four groups – the A350 series (FX 5900), the A340 series (FX 5200), the A310 series (FX 5600), and the A300 series (FX 5800). Each of these series has at least one Ultra version and one VIVO version of the board in that series, so there is a little something for everyone. For more information on this family of graphics boards, check out Leadtek’s main graphics board web page here.

Today, we are going to take a look at the high end of the A310 series, the WinFast A310 Ultra TD MyVivo, which as noted above is based on NVIDIA’s FX 5600 GPU. As you may already know, this is a very capable midrange graphics processor that, as we will see, really flexes its muscle when GPU intensive features such as anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering are enabled.

Leadtek WinFast A310 Ultra TD MyVivo

Specifications / Features

Specifications:

For a full list of the WinFast A310 Ultra TD MyVivo‘s specifications, visit Leadtek’s website.

Here are the some of the highlights:

  • NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra GPU
  • 128MB DDR RAM
  • 400MHz RAMDACs
  • 1.4 Billion texels/sec fill rate
  • 88 Million vertices/sec
  • 11.2 GB/sec memory bandwidth
  • 16 texels per pixel with 8 textures applied per clock
  • 4 Pixels per Clock Rendering Pipeline
  • On-board DVI support up to 1600×1200 resolution
  • On-board TV-out support up to 1024×768 resolution

Features:

Leadtek has provided a generous software bundle and, as its name suggests, VIVO features with this board.

Software Bundle:

  • Ulead VideoStudio SE DVD
  • Ulead COOL 3D SE
  • WinFast PVR
  • WinFast DVD
  • WinFox II
  • Cult 3D
  • Coloreal Embedded
  • Coloreal Visual
  • Coloreal Bright
  • Gun Metal
  • Big Mutha Truckers

MyVIVO Features:

  • Picture-in-picture: One for “live” program and the other for a captured program. The main and sub program can be switched, and the sub screen video can be displayed anywhere on the desktop in any size.
  • De-interlace: Improved quality for fast-motion video, and no noise and flicker on the edge of motion objects.
  • Video Capture: Supports MPEG1/MPEG2/MPEG4 formats.

Package Contents


The WinFast A310 Ultra TD MyVivo‘s packaging was standard fare. The box was the typical size for many components these days, but it was gold and silver with a nice glossy finish. Inside the box, I found a plethora of cables and connectors, as you can see in the picture below. Besides the software bundle mentioned on the previous page, Leadtek gives buyers of this board: a power cable, a composite video cable, an S-Video cable, a DVI-to-VGA converter, a VIVO cable (blue bundle in the pic below), the WinFast Graphics Series General Guide, and a Quick Installation Guide.

The General Guide is a good reference for WinFox, Leadtek’s tweaking and information tool, and the MyVIVO hardware and software features. The guide also contains a comprehensive section on “Display Properties” covering everything from how to open the “Display Properties” panel to using the NVRotate feature of NVIDIA’s drivers. I was quite impressed with this section and the entire guide. I did find one typo in the table of contents, though, where the wrong page number was listed as the beginning of a section. I caught it because it confused me when I was trying to find something in the manual. Considering how well the rest of it was put together, I am surprised this error slipped through. Leadtek also put together a nice Quick Installation Guide. It covers hardware and driver installation, board layout, and package contents. As expected, the quality of the cables is the same as what comes with most consumer electronics – mediocre yet adequate for most people. I think only videophiles or people who simply demand the highest quality would balk at the included cables.

Leadtek WinFast A310 Ultra TD MyVivo Package Contents

I tried to spend a little quality time with the included software. Here are my impressions:

WinFox II:
This is one of the most feature-laden utilities I have ever had the pleasure of using. Leadtek’s WinFox presents an easy way to get at a lot of your system information. A right click of the WinFox system tray icon will give you options to check out your system or display properties, to add or remove programs, or to get to the more interesting options like the “Advanced Tools” or “Hot References.” Under “Advanced Tools,” Leadtek provides users with utilities for overclocking a WinFast video card, correcting and changing display settings, and even reminding users to take a break once in a while. That’s right, a utility called “Tea Break” can be set to pop up a reminder telling a user that they should take a break from the computer every so often. “Hot References” provides easy access to information about a user’s DirectX version, display driver, monitor, processor, and memory resources, which includes video memory status and disk drive usage. This great utility also includes a VGA BIOS update tool and “Living Update,” which makes updating WinFox and display and capture drivers simple. Leadtek has even thrown in a few very simple games and an alarm clock for good measure. WinFox is one of the most full-featured system tools I have ever used. I was impressed with it, and I’ll be using its many features often.

WinFast PVR:
This is Leadtek’s program for capturing video and using the time-shifting and picture-in-picture features of this board. Due to time constraints, I did not test the time-shifting functionality. The program was easy to use and allowed me to change capture settings, like capture format and quality, without any difficulty. Also, switching pictures in the picture-in-picture mode is as simple as double-clicking on one of the pictures and they switch places. The picture-in-picture was a nice feature because it allows you to preview the captured video while the source is still running in real-time.

WinFast DVD:
There’s not much to say about a software DVD player. It worked and was easy to navigate through. A simple right click anywhere on the screen of a playing movie will bring up all the options and settings that can be changed. Or, the control panel can be used to accomplish the same thing.

Ulead VideoStudio SE DVD and Ulead COOL 3D SE:
Unfortunately, I didn’t spend too much time with these programs due to time constraints. VideoStudio can be used to capture and edit video and then use that video to author Video CDs and DVDs. Of course, it allows you to add transitions and other effects. COOL 3D is used to create 3D titling for videos or web pages or just about anything. This program is fairly intuitive. I used it to create some exploding, rotating text in a matter of minutes.

Gun Metal:
My first impressions of this game really weren’t great. I get annoyed when a PC game doesn’t have mouse support in the menu system. It’s not really that big of a deal, though, since I do know how to use the arrow and enter keys on my keyboard. It’s just a minor nuisance when you’re used to being able to breeze through options menus with your mouse. I think this must be due to its Xbox roots – yes, it appears to be a port from the Xbox to the PC. This game is from a company called Yeti Studios and is actually mentioned on NVIDIA’s website for using some of their latest DirectX 9 features.

The concept of the game is quite cool – you take control of the Havoc Suit, basically a mech that can effortlessly transform into a jet fighter. The plot is not very fresh though. You take on an enemy that threatens to wipe out your entire civilization. Trying to play the game with the standard keyboard and mouse setup was difficult and frustrating. It definitely felt like console gaming on a PC. What I mean by this is the point of view would rotate when the cursor moves from the center of the screen, and the farther away the cursor would get from center the faster the point of view would move. What I’m trying to say is, the speed that I moved the cursor did not affect the speed of camera movement. Check out the Performance section of this review for the results of comparing my old Ti4400 to this new Leadtek FX 5600 Ultra using a benchmark Yeti recently released for Gun Metal.

I know most people probably don’t check out manuals that come with games, but I thought that I should to be thorough. And the HTML manual that Yeti Studios provides with Gun Metal is very nice and easy to navigate through.

Big Mutha Truckers:
I almost didn’t install this game just because of the title, but I decided not to judge a game by its title. In Big Mutha Truckers, you take the role of one of Ma Jackson’s four children, and you compete to take ownership of her infamous Big Mutha Truckers Haulage Company. Whichever sibling has the most loot after 60 days of trucking and buying and selling cargo wins the family business. This is another game that was either designed for consoles first or the designers just tried to make it as generic as possible (to make porting it easier), because there is no way to navigate menus (and there are a lot in the game since you’re buying and selling stuff a lot) with the mouse. Some clicks seem to work in place of the “Enter” key, but that’s about it. Big Mutha Truckers is not really the type of game that I like, and the control scheme even makes it worse. But, if you’re into some 18-wheeler mindless car cruching good times, then this game might appeal to you. I must admit I actually had a little bit of fun playing it, at least for the first five minutes.

Leadtek seemed to make some good decisions with this bundle by including good video editing, capturing and viewing software; however, the game selection was a bit of a let down for me. Gun Metal supposedly uses some of the FX’s advanced features, and it did look good, so that’s probably part of the reason it was included. It’s just not the easiest game to control with a keyboard and mouse. I don’t have any type of controller, like a joystick or gamepad with two sticks, that would be ideal for this game, which I’m sure would make the game much more enjoyable. As for Big Mutha Truckers, it seemed unique to me and some of the redneck stereotypes in it are a little funny the first time.

Installation


When I was installing this board, one of the first things I noticed was that it is actually about a centimeter “shorter” than my old MSI Ti4400. It may not be as pretty as the MSI card’s purple PCB, but having less PCB to worry about is definitely a good thing when trying to get one of these suckers plugged into an AGP slot and case setup that puts the video card close to harddrives and memory slots. Before I even installed this board I knew I would forget to plug in the auxiliary power connector on it, and, sure enough, that is exactly what I did. Of course, my system booted as expected and let me finish installing the drivers, but I remembered that I needed to plug that extra power source in. So, I shut down the system and plugged it in. When Windows came back up, weird artifacts appeared all over the screen in a nice chessboard type of pattern. I was a little freaked out and hoping that I didn’t just fry my FX 5600 Ultra. Maintaing my composure, I shut down the PC again and jiggled all the connectors and made sure everything was well connected, which didn’t seem to make any noticeable difference to me. But, I thought I would try to boot again, and I was pleasantly surprised to see a completely normal boot up screen with no artifacts in sight. Other than that incident, installation of the WinFast A310 Ultra TD MyVivo was uneventful. I installed the drivers and utilities without any problems.

Performance


Now that we have a standard test rig here at Bjorn3d, we can compare the WinFast A310 Ultra TD MyVivo with a reference GeForce FX 5900 Ultra and an ATI Radeon 9700 Pro. Unfortunately, these three cards are the only ones we have benched under this new testbed, so the comparison will be limited to these three. From the results below, it’s easy to see that the A310 Ultra falls behind both of these boards in all tests, but this should be expected when you examine the specs of all these boards.

Bjorn3d Video Card Test System:

  • Leadtek K7NCR18D Pro II
  • AMD Athlon XP 2800+ Barton @ 3200+ w/ 400FSB
  • 768MB Corsair XMS3200 DDR RAM
  • 60GB Maxtor UDMA 66
  • Windows XP Pro SP1
  • NVIDIA Detonator Version: 44.03
  • ATI Catalyst Version: 3.4

3DMark 2001SE

Setting: No AA, No Anisotropic filtering


GFX Card/GPU Score
 
1024×768
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 12465
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 17532
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 16037
 
1280×1024
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 9622
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 15446
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 13298
 
1600×1200
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 7403
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 13355
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 10991

Setting: 4x AA, 8x Anisotropic filtering


GFX Card/GPU Score
 
1024×768
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 7245
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 13416
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 10169
 
1280×1024
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 4699
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 10890
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 7394
 
1600×1200
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 3183
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 8535
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 5606

Comanche 4

Setting: No AA, No Anisotropic filtering


GFX Card/GPU Score
 
1024×768
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 45.63
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 53.72
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 51.22
 
1280×1024
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 38.72
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 53.15
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 51.66
 
1600×1200
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 31.44
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 51.62
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 50.62

Setting: 4x AA, 8x Anisotropic filtering


GFX Card/GPU Score
 
1024×768
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 27.15
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 48.33
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 44.89
 
1280×1024
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 19.90
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 42.66
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 36.37
 
1600×1200
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 14.73
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 34.22
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 23.58

Unreal Tournament 2003 – Antalus

Setting: No AA, No Anisotropic filtering


GFX Card/GPU Score
1024×768
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 115.20
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 193.53
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 170.03
1280×1024
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 75.13
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 167.11
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 118.05
1600×1200
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 52.93
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 126.19
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 82.79

Setting: 4x AA, 8x Anisotropic filtering


GFX Card/GPU Score
1024×768
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 56.30
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 130.62
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 89.11
1280×1024
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 33.88
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 87.05
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 58.83
1600×1200
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 18.43
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 52.83
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 40.17

Unreal Tournament 2003 – Inferno

Setting: No AA, No Anisotropic filtering


GFX Card/GPU Score
1024×768
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 82.40
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 200.74
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 134.91
1280×1024
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 51.98
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 131.69
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 89.76
1600×1200
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 36.64
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 94.09
ATI ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 65.64

Setting: 4x AA, 8x Anisotropic filtering


GFX Card/GPU Score
1024×768
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 47.25
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 109.49
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 84.99
1280×1024
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 28.46
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 71.3
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 56.16
1600×1200
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra 15.68
NVIDIA Ref. GFFX 5900 Ultra 45.53
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 38.94

Performance – A Different Perspective


Since the Bjorn3d test rig has a topnotch CPU, I thought some of our readers might benefit from a few extra benchmarks and some playability tests with my PC, especially if I compared my Ti4400 with this FX 5600 Ultra, too. I’m not sure if playability is a word, but what I mean by it is how well the game plays given certain settings.

My System Specs:

  • AOpen AK79D Max (mobo)
  • AMD Athlon XP 2000+
  • 512MB Corsair XMS2700 DDR RAM
  • 60GB Maxtor UDMA 66
  • Windows XP Pro SP1
  • NVIDIA Detonator Version: 44.03

Playability Tests

In order to gauge how much more power I was getting with the WinFast A310 Ultra, I wanted to see if it would allow me to play Unreal Tournament 2003 (UT2K3) at a higher resolution (all other settings being equal) than the Ti4400. For this test I set 2x AA and 2x anisotropic filtering, and in the game settings, everything was left to the defaults, such as texture detail set to normal, triple buffering, and tri-linear filtering. I also played with 4 bots on Antalus. With the Ti4400, I was able to play UT2K3 with these settings at a resolution of 1024×768 with no noticeable slow downs. The game suffered bad slow down and jitters on any higher resolution. So, in order to prove superior to the Ti4400 in this test, the A310 Ultra simply had to be playable at 1280×1024. And, it was playable without any problems. It looked good and ran buttery smooth.

Benchmark

I also wanted to use at least one benchmark to try to compare these two boards. I decided that since Gun Metal came with the A310 Ultra, the newer card ought to be able to show up its older brother again. However, the results from the benchmark aren’t even worth creating a graph for. The benchmark reports minimum, average and maximum frames per second, and for mininum and average, both cards scored nearly the same. At least the A310 Ultra was ahead in each case, even if it was only by one frame per second. However, for maximum frames per second, which unfortunately is not really as significant, the Ti4400 was beaten by at least 8 frames per second each time, which is quite a few when the maximum was always under 48 FPS.

Overclocking

I did not have very much luck in overclocking this video card. The stock graphics clock speed on this board is 351 MHz, while the stock memory clock frequency is 702 MHz. Those are the readings that Leadtek’s monitoring tool gave me. I was able to get stable performance at frequencies of 365 and 710, but that was about all the headroom this board offered me. With this barely significant increase in clock speeds, the performance was not improved by much, as you can see from the 3DMark2001 scores below. As usual, overclocking results can vary greatly, so anyone planning on overclocking this board should not expect to obtain the exact same results. I only used the stock heat sink and fan that came on the board and made no effort to provide extra cooling to it. So, with a little bit of effort for extra cooling, I’m guessing that someone could make this board reach new heights.

3DMark 2001SE

Setting: 4x AA, 8x Anisotropic filtering


GFX Card/GPU Score
1600×1200
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra (351/702) 3103
Leadtek GFFX 5600 Ultra (365/710) 3167

MyVIVO Performance


I tested the video out functionality of the A310 Ultra by hooking my PC up to my home theatre system using the VIVO cables’ S-Video connectors and my Onkyo receiver’s front panel S-Video input. I was impressed when I was able to simply turn off my PC and take it into the other room and hook it up without having to preset anything to get it ready to boot and use the video-out feature, and it worked great. I turned on my PC after it was hooked up to the receiver, and just like on my regular monitor, I started to see the POST screens. With this setup, I tested various media, and I was happy with all of the results. I watched a few minutes of a DVD, a DivX movie, and I even played a little bit of Gun Metal. Playing a PC game on my 42 inch widescreen TV will make me think my 19 inch monitor is inadequate from now on. Then, I tried something interesting. I hooked up the video-out of my TV to the video-in on the VIVO connectors and created what I call a digital mirroring effect (think about a mirror reflecting an image of another mirror facing it). Since this was a cool little trick, I thought I’d share it. Check out the screenshots below.

Although my trickery mentioned above did a minimal test of the video-in capabilities of this board, I decided I should do a little bit more. So, I hooked up the video-out of my VCR to the VIVO video-in connectors. The video quality looked nearly the same as it does when it is hooked up to my receiver, which means there is no noticeable signal degradation. That’s a definite plus. I performed a capture to Windows Media Format and Video CD format of an old family video. I’ve been wanting to create an archive of these old famiiy videos that could be played on a DVD player. Since I don’t have a DVD burner yet, this seemed like a good option. And the video quality was tolerable but not great. I did notice some degradation that really wouldn’t be acceptable for archiving such important memories. However, maybe if I learn to tweak the software settings appropriately, I can get a capture quality that would be acceptable for this type of application.

Conclusion


I know it’s been said countless times by countless people, but I’m going to have to say it again: The GeForce FX series is for those gamers who want to crank up the anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering on their current games to make them look a lot better. For people who are more concerned with simple frames per second numbers, the old GeForce 4 line is certainly worth sticking with. As far as I’m concerned, 60 FPS with 4x AA and 8x anisotropic filtering is a more enjoyable experience.

The benchmarks don’t really paint a great picture for the WinFast A310 Ultra TD MyVivo, though. Considering the fact that the Radeon 9700 Pro is not priced much higher ($60-70) than this FX 5600 Ultra, the increase in performance could be compelling enough for people to spend the extra cash. However, NVIDIA has established a reputation for providing new drivers regularly that usually provide some noticeable improvement to their products. ATI, on the other hand, is notorious for having buggy drivers and few releases, but I’ve read that they seem to be improving in this area. Putting all those issues aside, the Leadtek WinFast A310 Ultra TD MyVivo does provide a solid package for a midrange graphics board. The VIVO features of this card also add a lot of value and flexibility to the package.

Final Score


Performance
7
Being a midrange graphics board puts the A310 Ultra in a tough spot. It has to deliver great performance for a great price. It meets performance expectations, but it may have to come in at a lower price to remain competitve.
Features
8
This board has many features that add a lot of value. It can be used to time-shift or capture live video, among other things. The board also features DVI, DirectX 9 support, and video out.
Bundle
9
Leadtek has provided software for exploiting every feature on this board, and that is very important and adds a lot of value to the card. And, all the necessary video cables are provided for hooking up the VIVO components.
Quality
9
The video card has performed well for the past week, except when I tried to overclock it. Since it runs well and reliably at its stock clock speeds, it meets quality expectations.
Price
7
Nearly $220 for this card seems to be a little steep for some people, but for someone planning on using all of its features, that price will probably seem a little more reasonable.
Total: 8

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