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Gainward's GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750 XP Golden Sample

ManufacturerGainward
ModelUltra/750 XP
Price$327
AvailabilityNow

Gainward's Ti 4600 card is the wildest of the bunch. And yes, near as I can tell, its official name is "GeForce4 PowerPack! Ultra/750 XP Golden Sample." This card seems to be named using the Goodness Naming Theory, in which as many good things as possible should be packed into a name in order to denote goodness. This card ought to be especially good, because its name includes everything from an "Ultra" to an exclamation point, from an "XP" to a "Golden Sample." And that's a lot of goodness for one video card.

Fortunately, the card goes a long way toward living up to its name. Have a look at it, and you'll begin to see what I mean:


The Gainward's radical red coloring makes it stand out The Gainward Ti 4600, uniquely, has dual DVI outputs for support of two LCD panels at once. Dual Silicon Image TMDS transmitter chips enable the dual DVI outs. The card also sports the biggest memory coolers of the bunch, and a modified version of NVIDIA's reference cooler keeps the GPU cool while blowing air out across the RAM heatsinks on the "top" side of the card.


The Philips video codec provides video capture capabilities Like the Siluro, the Gainward has a mini-DIN video output port, to which Gainward's VIVO cable connects. This cable splits into four ports: S-Video out, composite out, S-Video in, and composite in. The card's video encoding duties are handled by a Philips SAA7108E video codec chip. The Philips is limited to 800x600 video resolutions, but it can translate both directions: encoding VGA output as NSTC/PAL video, and decoding NTSC/PAL video into digital form. So if you want to do video capture and editing, the Gainward will do it.

The Gainward card's cooling excellence is more than cosmetic. Pull off the GPU's heatsink, and you'll find a perfect, thin layer of thermal paste ensuring contact between the GPU and the mirror-finish surface of the cooler. This is a stock cooling installation I can really respect. Gainward just nailed it.


Gainward's cooler has a mirror-smooth finish The "PowerPack!" part of this card's name ain't just talk. Gainward has stuffed the box full of all sorts of goodies. Have a look:


The Gainward card's standard package has everything Notice, first, that there are two DVI-to-VGA converters, so you can run dual VGA monitors or dual DVI flat panels off of the card. There's also Gainward's four-way VIVO cable, a Gainward case badge, a full version of Intervideo's WinDVD, their WinCoder video capture software, and the WinProducer non-linear video editing app. Gainward includes the best possible bundled video game for a GF4 card: Serious Sam. And just to make this a complete video-editing suite, the card comes with a Firewire card—with a Firewire cable—in the box. Really:


Yep, it's a Firewire card. With a cable. Gainward's driver install disk is a bizarre collage of drivers for everything from the S3 Trio3D to the Ti 4600. On that CD is Gainward's Expertool overclocking utility. It's possible to install ExpertTool in "Enhanced mode," which will automatically overclock the card from its stock 300/650MHz core/memory clocks to 310/680MHz. Apparently Gainward thinks that's a pretty safe overclocked speed, so they just make it an option at install time. Pretty gutsy, really.

Gainward backs its cards with a three-year repair-or-replace warranty, which is darn near a lifetime in the graphics world. However, like Abit, Gainward doesn't offer toll-free technical support, and the dealer from whom you purchase the card will be your first line of support.

All told, though, Gainward's put together nearly the ultimate GeForce4 package. Obviously, the company has put some serious thought into how to make its cards stand out from the crowd, and they've managed to succeed in making something unique. If you even think you might want to do video editing or perhaps drive a pair of LCDs off your computer at some point in the future, the Gainward card is the way to go.

Now, let's test these things...