Abit Siluro GF4 Ti4200-8x OTES 128Mb video card review
By: Dmitry Zinovyev
Progress in IT is moved on by the two forces - technologies and marketing. Sometimes marketing generates quite amusing technological combinations. Sometimes they are able misleading the common user, and the pompous name for a new thoroughly hyped technology may get across the whole world, but in fact it was a different technology "to blame" for the performance boost. For the recent months, lots of various AGP8x video cards have been supplied onto the market. The hyping up of this architecture has turned into an "idee fixe" for both accelerators manufacturers and motherboard manufacturers. Looking back, we can recall the times when a similar sensation gave birth to the emergence of the AGP as such and then its new versions - 2x and 4x. Has anything changed since then? This definitely is worth pondering over. The major argument of those who keep sober upon hearing of new AGP speeds is that modern accelerators offer enough memory to store textures in, and thus there's not so much need in greater AGP bandwidth. But .. today things are much more difficult than that. Apart from textures, geometry vertexes and lots of other data are passed to the card, and thus there is a ground to revert to the good old topic.
|ABit Siluro GF4 Ti4200|
||NV28 (GF4 Ti4200-8x)|
||550MHz DDR; 128 Mb;|
||Yes, based on Philips7104E|
It's also clear that promoting the new version of the high-speed bus for accelerators is promising in terms of profits for hardware manufacturers related to this market sector. That was simply no more than a show-off since the common user will hardly resist temptation to add just another pompous name inside his super-powerful PC. So, what do we get in the upshot?
In fact, we get an NV28 chip produced by nVidia with support for AGP8x. Video cards based on NV28 are labeled the same way as NV25 cards but for the prefix 8x (e.g. GeForce 4 Ti4200-8x) added to the name.
Recently on the 3DNews website you must have read a review on Abit Siluro Ti4200 OTES (64Mb) video card. In it we narrated the card itself with the most recent patented OTES technology (Outside Thermal Exhaust System). The card featured both pros and cons. Before you delve into that review, take some time running through the following materials:
Abit's OTES technology with the Siluro GF4 Ti4200 video card
Multi-monitor support (the nView with Gainward Ultra 750/XP based on the GeForce 4 Ti4600 chip)
Testing three GeForce4 Ti4600-based video cards
Today we received a specimen of the new ABIT Siluro Ti4200 OTES video card with support for the AGP8X and 128 MB DDR SDRAM.
The card is built on the new NV28 chip whose major difference from NV25 is the support for AGP8x. On the face of it, the specimen is practically identical to the formerly tested GF4 Ti4200 OTES, so we aren't going to dwell much on the card itself. Let me remind the pros and cons though:
- No control for the cooler rotational speed;
- No cooling of the memory chips and no way installing third-party sets;
- Very high noise levels in the nominal mode;
- The chip and memory run at speeds pre-clocked to the Ti4400 levels;
- Hot air is expelled off the PC case, which substantially improves the thermal conditions of the CPU unit;
- The overclocking potential of the chip has been increased;
- Turbine tuning is more important than tuning the coolers for standard GeForce 4 Ti4200's.
OTES Ti4200 vs. Ti4200-8x, package bundle
So, what has been changed in Abit Siluro Ti4200 OTES AGP8X (128Mb) as compared with the previous NV25-based version? First, the card now offers 128, not 64 MB memory onboard. The board comes bundled in more costly packaging and features more impressive bundle. Let's dwell on that in more detail.
The package design of ABit GF4 Ti4200-8x OTES
The package design hasn't been changed much: the overall color has been changed, the fresco has been shaded which made it look absolutely illegible, plus an opening has been cut out in the reverse side of the box through which the card becomes visible (with the cooling system as the "center of its digital universe"). But the box itself has been changed radically - it used to be made of cardboard, now it is made of transparent plastic through which you can see the card itself and the documentation with the wiring.
The wiring and the documentation haven't undergone any changes, that is, the same Apple Mac style transparent plastic is there. The documentation is now of a different color, plus some OTES cooler promos added. The bundled software kit has turned much richer indeed. This time the famous freeware game US.ARMY is part of the bundle plus one more CD of interesting miscellaneous software has been added. The latter CD offers a visual WindowsXP theme, Soldier of Fortune II demo, and EarthViewer demo. An OTES sticker on the CPU unit deserves a special mention. If things are going on that way, just a glance at the face of the CPU unit would suffice to tell the PC configuration.
As I mentioned earlier, at first glance the board makes almost no difference to the GF4 Ti4200 OTES (but for the color). On the card there is a Ti4200 chip with support for AGP8x, which is seen from its marking. The memory is made up of Samsung chips (Hynix, in the previous version), has the same access time as in the previous board - 3.6 ns, which is approximately equivalent to 225 MHz (550MHz DDR).
Like before, the chip and memory run at pre-overstated speeds equivalent to the laid off Ti4400, but this time the card is closer to the true Ti4400 since it features 128MB memory onboard. Therefore, Abit's pricing policies is quite understandable, since the 4200-8x is going to sell at the price of Ti4400's, i.e. it will cost between $200 and $250. When nVidia was laying off the Ti4400, the company justified it by the insufficient demand for these chips although rumors had it the chip was being laid off because the higher-end Ti4600 brother was failing to withstand competition at the 'price/performance' ratio, i.e. the demand for the top-end Ti4600 was going down thus leaving the company without a hefty share of would-be profits. Well, we have diverted far in our reasoning.. Let's turn back to the object in question.
First, let's point out the differences of the PCB design. As you can see from the photos, there are differences between the PCBs. What has been amended is the module close to the AGP socket (clearly seen on the photo, at the back), as well as the layout of the 10 capacitors on the front between the chip and the AGP socket. The TV-OUT and other outlets have also been amended: the number of elements has stayed the same, but they all have been slightly displaced. What is interesting, the arrangement of many captions all over the PCB has been changed either. The main components as well as memory have stayed where they used to be - no changes. That means - even though the wiring has been re-worked, it doesn't make noticeable differences from the base design. Let me remind you that the outputs, D-Sub 15, DVI and S-Video as well as the air expulsion opening, have been brought to the rear strap taking up TWO slots.
||CPU & Memory: