The never-ending battle for the ultimate in graphic chipsets for the hardcore gamer has heated up once again. ATI snatched top spot from Nvidia with its powerful Radeon 8500; now Nvidia is set to reclaim the top spot with the new GeForce4 family.
Nvidia has always been keen to develop its GPUs to the point that they can render ‘movie-quality’ graphics, and the GeForce4 gets closer to that dream. Built on the strengths of the GeForce3, the GeForce4 GPU features 63 million transistors – 3 million more than the GeForce3 – plus a second vertex shader. It also implements numerous design tweaks, some of which were already part of the GeForce3 spec. However, the largest part of its performance advantage is due to the improved memory controller, allowing for higher memory and chip clock speeds.
The GeForce4 Ti features the next-generation nfiniteFX II engine, an improved version of the engine used in the Xbox. This features the two vertex shaders, enhancements to the pixel shader functionality and shader pipeline paths and the DXT1 compressed texture quality. Also new is an improved anti-aliasing feature called Accuview, which makes the AA look better and run faster by using a new filtering, multi-sampling technique. In addition, Accuview supports anisotropic filtering, to improve the look of textures that extend from the foreground into the background. It also incorporates nView display technology, which allows the use of multiple monitors.
To achieve the GeForce4 Ti’s impressive performance leap over the GeForce3, Nvidia has improved the LMA (Light Speed Memory Architecture). The LMA II takes each of the original LMA’s components and tweaks, tunes and advances them. All of this allows the GeForce4 Ti use a core clock speed of 300MHz combined with 128MB of DDR memory clocked at 325MHz (650MHz DDR).
Is all of this really worth it? Well, the Asus V8460 GeForce4 Ti 4600 achieved our highest ever score when tested, beating the Geforce3 Ti 500 by a considerable amount. Interestingly, the Asus V8460 comes with slightly over-clocked memory, running at 660MHz.
But the first thing you’ll notice about this particular card is the sheer size of it. It’s huge, far bigger than any of the GeForce3 boards. The PCB is dominated by the large heat sink, which encases a fan above the chipset, although the memory chips don’t have any kind of heatsink on them at all. TV output encoding is controlled by an onboard Conexant chip.
The backplate contains standard 15-pin VGA and DVI outputs and an S-Video connector. The board we looked at was an early production model without any extra software bundles, but the retail versions of the board will come with the usual range of Asus goodies.
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