Summary: Today we're taking a look at VisionTek's Xtasy lineup of GeForce4 cards. With price points ranging from $150-$400 VisionTek offers a GeForce4 board that's sure to meet the budget of any gamer. Find out how their MX 440, Ti 4400, and Ti 4600 boards perform in our latest article!
VisionTek’s rise to the top
Since NVIDIA’s GeForce4 launch last February, video card manufacturers have been hastily selling their older GeForce3 products in order to make room for GeForce4. VisionTek is one such company that has been going through this transition, and once again they are the first retailer to market with a top to bottom lineup of GeForce-based products. VisionTek is able to pull this feat off because of its unique access to NVIDIA’s latest and greatest upcoming hardware.
The cost of execution
While early access to hardware is part of the equation of success for VisionTek, the company is also able to get its products to market quickly by keeping costs in check. Software bundles are kept to the bare essentials: for its GeForce4 products VisionTek provides the driver CD with online manual (a paper quick setup guide is also included) and a copy of Cyberlink’s PowerDVD program. GeForce4 MX cards are also given a selection of technology demos while Cyberlink’s Power Director software is included with all GeForce4 Ti boards. Retail games are not included in the packaging nor are hardware-monitoring utilities.
For now, VisionTek’s GeForce4 lineup consists of four boards: two based on the GeForce4 Titanium GPU (the Ti 4600 and Ti 4400), and two cards based on the GeForce4 MX. Hopefully VisionTek will also offer a Ti 4200 board at a later date. With its $200 price point and 225MHz core, we have a feeling that the Ti 4200 could be a popular choice for many gamers looking for the most bang for their buck. However, NVIDIA literally added the Ti 4200 to its lineup just days before the GeForce4’s official launch. Therefore, none of NVIDIA’s GeForce4 launch partners have officially announced their own Ti 4200 products. We don’t expect them to hit retail until later this spring.
Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440
The Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440 is VisionTek’s top GeForce4 MX product; the company also manufactures a GeForce4 MX 420 card. The GeForce4 MX 440 core it’s based on runs at 270MHz, while its 64MB of DDR memory clocks in at 400MHz. For driving dual monitors, VisionTek provides two VGA outputs on the Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440.
As you can see in the pictures above, the Xtasy GeForce4 MX 440 ships solely with a heatsink. While this may be disappointing to some, the GeForce4 MX 440 core runs fine without active cooling. In fact, we were able to overclock our Xtasy MX 440 board up to 285MHz core/485MHz memory with no problems.
The Xtasy GeForce4 MX440 sells for an MSRP of $149.99.
Xtasy GeForce4 Ti 4400
Built on the GeForce4 Ti 4400 core, the Xtasy Ti 4400 can process up to 1.16 trillion operations/second courtesy of its 275MHz clock speed, while its 128MB of 550MHz DDR memory can provide up to 8.8GB/sec of memory bandwidth. And with its Accuview antialiasing engine, the Ti 4400 makes high-resolution antialiased gaming possible. The Xtasy GeForce4 Ti 4400 is a bit pricey at $299.95 MSRP, but currently that’s the going rate for any board based on the Ti 4400 core. However, once you see the performance of our Xtasy Ti 4400 board on the following pages, you’ll be tempted to pony up the cash for the added performance. Xtasy Ti 4400 supports outputs for VGA, DVI, and S-Video.
If all that wasn’t enough, the 305MHz core/690MHz memory we were able to achieve while overclocking the Ti 4400 should definitely grab your attention!
Xtasy GeForce4 Ti 4600
VisionTek’s top-of-the-line GeForce4 board is the Xtasy GeForce4 Ti 4600. It goes without saying that its 300MHz graphics core and 128MB of speedy 650MHz DDR memory is without equal in the consumer graphics segment. Like the Xtasy GeForce4 Ti 4400, the Xtasy Ti 4600 sports a VGA and DVI output, but adds a VIVO connector that can act as a video output or input. In terms of overclocking, we were able to successfully overclock our Xtasy Ti 4600 card to 320MHz core/720MHz memory – not a bad overclock for a Ti 4600 board.
SIDEBAR: The lowest PriceWatch price we were able to find for Xtasy 4400 boards was $274 and $127 for the MX 440.
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz
256MB PC800 RDRAM
NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 500 reference board
Driver version Detonator 28.32
30GB IBM Deskstar DTLA 307030 ATA/100 Hard Drive
AFREEY 12X DVD-ROM
Windows XP Professional
Desktop Resolution: 1024x768x32
3DMark 2001 Second Edition - 32-bit color, 32-bit textures
3DMark 2001 - DirectX 8
The Xtasy Ti 4400 board finishes four percentage points behind the Ti 4600 at 800x600x32. By 1280x1024x32 the gap only opens to six percentage points. Meanwhile, the gap between the MX 440 and MX 460 is substantially larger: six points at 800x600x32 and 14% behind MX 460 at 1280x1024.
3DMark 2001 - Car Chase
3DMark 2001 - Dragothic
3DMark 2001 - Lobby
3DMark 2001 - Nature
Serious Sam 2 - OpenGL
1280x1024 and 1600x1200 are the resolutions you’ll most likely be playing Serious Sam 2 at if you own a GeForce4 Ti board. At 1280x1024, the margin between both cards is four percent, while at 1600x1200 eight percentage points separate the cards. Of course, with AA enabled the margin will be a little larger, which is why we’ve included AA scores in Quake 3 further in this article.
Quake III - High Quality
At 1280x1024, the Xtasy 4400 finishes four percentage points behind the Xtasy 4600, while the gap opens up to 10% at 1600x1200. The Xtasy MX 440 falls even further behind the MX 460 in Quake 3; end users should definitely look into overclocking their MX 440 boards if they want to achieve the most bang from their buck.
Return To Castle Wolfenstein MP Test
If Castle Wolfenstein were any indication, practically all end users would purchase Ti 4400 boards and save the $100 for a pair of games. However, Return to Castle Wolfenstein is highly CPU-dependant, even at the highest resolutions the GeForce4 Titanium boards offer nearly identical levels of performance.
Quake III - High Quality
Once AA is enabled, the margin between the Xtasy Ti 4400 board and Xtasy Ti 4600 card opens up to 12% at 1280x1024. Meanwhile, the deficit the MX 440 board must overcome remains roughly the same.
Quake III - High Quality
The beauty of the GeForce4 series graphics cards is the Quincunx AA mode. Unlike older GeForce3 boards, GeForce4 boards can run in Quincunx AA mode with hardly any performance penalty. Therefore, the margins we noted in 2x AA mode remain roughly the same.
Quake III - High Quality
With the AA detail cranked up, the gap between the Ti 4400 and Ti 4600 is practically unchanged – about 13% at 1280x1024 and 18% between both MX boards at the same resolution.
VisionTek’s Xtasy cards may be simple reference boards, but we’ve found them to be good performers and offer all the reliability you’d expect from a company that offers a lifetime warranty on all of its products. Another positive of the Xtasy boards is that they can be found almost anywhere – retailers such as Best Buy and Fry’s Electronics carry their products, as do online vendors such as Electronics Boutique and buy.com.
In terms of pricing, VisionTek boards are among the lowest of GeForce4 cards, but not quite at the bottom. Considering the quality of their boards we believe their prices are very competitive, but if you’re looking for the most inexpensive GeForce4, eVGA seems to be the cheapest manufacturer.
If you do plan on upgrading your graphics card soon, we believe the best value currently lies in the Ti 4400. At an MSRP of $299.99 the Xtasy Ti 4400 is a bit pricey, but considering its performance (especially when overclocked) we’d have a hard time recommending anything less for the serious gamer. If you just can’t afford to shell out the $300 for a GeForce4 Ti 4400, we recommend you consider a board based on the GeForce3 Ti 200 core. These boards can be found for under $150 and while they don’t offer Quincunx AA for free they are more future-proof than GeForce4 MX boards. The GeForce4 Ti 4200 will also be an attractive solution in this segment once it’s made available later this year.
Over the past year, VisionTek has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the consumer graphics segment here in America. Quite frankly, we’re not surprised. VisionTek’s Xtasy cards offer everything you need to get your game on. They’re dependable, widely available, and priced competitively among their peers. Rather than bundling software end users may or may not use, VisionTek focuses on getting the hardware in the hands of consumers as quickly as possible. And with NVIDIA’s powerful GeForce4 core at its heart, the Xtasy family of GeForce4 cards are impressive performers indeed.
SIDEBAR: Which graphics card caught your interest, Ti 4600, Ti 4400, or MX 440? Voice your thoughts in the comments!
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