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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

Setting: 4x AA, 8x Anisotropic filtering

Comanche 4

Setting: No AA, No Anisotropic filtering

Setting: 4x AA, 8x Anisotropic filtering

Unreal Tournament 2003 – Antalus

Setting: No AA, No Anisotropic filtering

Setting: 4x AA, 8x Anisotropic filtering

Setting: No AA, No Anisotropic filtering

Setting: 4x AA, 8x Anisotropic filtering

Setting: 4x AA, 8x Anisotropic filtering

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