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TR's GeForce4 Ti 4200 comparo

An 8-way value frame rate bonanza

IF YOU'RE A serious gamer on a budget, NVIDIA's GeForce4 Ti 4200 is what you'll see a lot of people recommending. A combination of solid drivers and an impressive hardware spec gives the GeForce4 Ti 4200 solid, predictable performance in a wide variety of games, and the price tag won't be too hard on your wallet. Prices should be heading south in the near future as NVIDIA and its partners feel additional heat from ATI's fearsome lineup of upcoming graphics cards.

Don't think that choosing the GeForce4 Ti 4200 means that you've completed your purchasing decision, though. The card comes in 64MB and 128MB flavors, and there are advantages and disadvantages to each. Furthermore, there are a number of different manufacturers building cards, so there's another choice you have to make.

Not all GeForce4 Ti 4200s are created equal, and today we've rounded up eight of them to find which ones perform the best, overclock the highest, and offer the best overall value for your budget gaming dollar. Along the way we'll also take a look at the performance advantages of 64MB and 128MB cards in general. There's a lot to cover, so let's get started.

The specs
We're comparing eight different graphics cards today, but they're all based on NVIDIA's GeForce4 Ti 4200 graphics chipset. If you're not familiar with the GeForce4 Ti 4200 you'll want to check out our in-depth review for a little background. Board design aside, the GeForce4 Ti 4200 is really just a slower version of NVIDIA's current top of the line GeForce4 Ti 4600, and uses the same rendering pipeline, memory architecture, and shaders as its faster, more expensive brother.

To set the stage a little, it's worth taking a look at where exactly the GeForce4 Ti 4200 stands in the broader graphics landscape.

  Core clock (MHz) Pixel pipelines Peak fill rate (Mpixels/s)Texture units per pixel pipeline Peak fill rate (Mtexels/s) Memory clock (MHz) Memory bus width (bits) Peak memory bandwidth (GB/s)
GeForce4 MX 4402702540210804001286.4
GeForce4 Ti 4200 128MB25041000220004441287.1
Radeon 75002902580317404601287.4
GeForce4 Ti 4200 64MB25041000220005001288.0
Radeon 8500LE25041000220005001288.0
SiS Xabre 40025041000220005001288.0
Radeon 9000 Pro27541100111005501288.8
GeForce4 MX 4603002600212005501288.8
Radeon 8500 128MB27541100222005501288.8
GeForce4 Ti 440027541100222005501288.8
GeForce4 Ti 4600300412002240065012810.4

As you can see, the GeForce4 Ti 4200 has very competitive fill rates; memory bandwidth is right up there, too. You'll notice, however, an important difference between 64MB and 128MB cards; the GeForce4 Ti 4200 64MB has half the memory of its 128MB sibling, but it does boast almost a full GB/s advantage in theoretical memory bandwidth courtesy of its 500MHz memory bus. We'll explore what kind of impact memory size and bus speed have on real world gaming performance when we dive into the benchmarks a little later.

All the GeForce4 Ti 4200 64MB graphics cards we're comparing today have identical fill rates and memory bandwidth; the same goes for all the GeForce4 Ti 4200 128MB cards. Looking at the specs, they're all the same, but there's more to a graphics card than its GPU and memory. Third party card manufacturers generally stick to NVIDIA's reference designs for the GeForce4 Ti 4200, but they do attempt to differentiate their products by including all manner of cables, adapters, and software. And, of course, all these cards have different price tags.

Here's a quick rundown of how the cards we're testing today differ from each other. We'll be covering each card individually in more detail, but it's a little easier to compare cards directly with each other with this handy little table.

PriceCablesS-Video adapterEncoder chipDVI-VGA adapter?DVD softwareGame bundleWarranty
Abit Siluro 64MB$13882" composite
80" S-Video
composite/S-Video Y-cablePhilips SAA7104EYesSiluroDVDNoneNA
Albatron 64MB$148*71" composite
62" S-Video
S-Video/composite adapterConexant 25871-14NoWinDVDSerious Sam
Motocross Mania
3 years***
Compro Personal Cinema 128MB$29969" composite
72" S-Video
None**Philips SAA7108ENoWinDVDNoneNA
Gainward PowerPack! Golden Sample Ultra/650TV 64MB$131None S-Video/composite adapterPhilips SAA7102EYesWinDVDNone3 years
MSI 64MB$13880" S-Video composite/S-Video Y-cablePhilips SAA7104EYesMSI DVDAquanox
3 years
MSI 128MB$155
PNY Verto 64MB$165NoneNonePhilips SAA7102ENoneNoneNoneLifetime
VisionTek Xtasy 128MB$170NoneNoneConexant 25871-15NoPowerDVDNoneLifetime****
*Pricewatch only lists prices for 128MB versions of Albatrons GeForce4 Ti 4200, though you may be able to find 64MB cards for cheaper in retail
**Compro doesn't include an S-Video adapter, but it has full VIVO functionality through the Personal Cinema breakout box
***Albatron only covers parts and labor for the first year of the warranty, after that you may be charged for parts
****VisionTek's lifetime warranty is only as good as the lifetime of the company, and the company is on life support