Summary: Unless you've won the lottery recently, chances are the Ti 4600 is out of your price range. So what's a gamer to do if he wants GF4-level performance but doesn't feel like forking over hundreds of dollars? Buy a Ti 4200 of course! In our latest article, we compare the performance of the Ti 4200 to the latest DX7 and DX8 cards from ATI and NVIDIA. Find out who comes out on top!
A GPU for every market
As hardware enthusiasts (and gamers) it’s hard not to get excited about the GeForce4 Titanium. It’s twin vertex shaders, enhanced memory architecture, and Accuview antialiasing are just a few of the features that make the GeForce4 Ti the most powerful graphics core currently available on the desktop PC. However, up to now its price has been much less inviting: $299 for the GeForce4 Ti 4400 and a whopping $399 for the flagship GeForce4 Ti 4600. Clearly these cards are more than most gamers can afford.
If you recall our GeForce4 preview, the original Ti 4200 specs called for a 225MHz core paired with 500MHz memory and a $199 price tag. Therefore, we’re effectively getting 64MB less in the case of the 64MB board, but a 25MHz clock speed increase (and a $20 price drop), while the 128MB board gets the clock speed boost, but ships with slower 4.5ns (444MHz) memory.
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz
256MB PC800 RDRAM
ATI RADEON 7500
ATI RADEON 8500 64MB
Driver version 7.67
Hercules 3D FDX Prophet 8500LE
Driver version 7.65
VisionTek Xtasy Ti 4600
VisionTek Xtasy Ti 4400
NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 reference board -- 64MB
NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 200 reference board
NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 500 reference board
Ti 4200 Original -- (128MB, 225 core/500MHz memory)
GeForce4 Ti 4200 128MB -- (250 core/444MHz memory)
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
Regardless of the test, 3DMark 2001 SE favors the 64MB Ti 4200 board over the 128MB variants. In fact, the 64MB board is able to hang within 4% of the Ti 4400 at the lower resolutions; it isn’t until 1280x1024x32 that we see the gap grow to eight percent between the two boards. The faster core clock of the final Ti 4200 beats out the original board specs at lower resolutions, it isn’t until 1280x1024x32 that we see the final results between the two boards change.
3DMark 2001 - Car Chase
3DMark 2001 - Dragothic
3DMark 2001 - Lobby
3DMark 2001 - Nature
Serious Sam 2 - OpenGL
The 64MB Ti 4200 continues to perform well against the Ti 4400 and Ti 4600 in Serious Sam 2, and outpaces its 128MB brothers as well, even at 1600x1200. At $180, if the Ti 4200 wasn’t tempting to you before, our results so far must have you thinking twice.
Quake III - High Quality
As you can see, the 64MB Ti 4200 board continues to perform well in comparison to the other 4200 boards in Quake 3. Even at the highest resolutions, the faster memory it contains comes out on top. Despite its slower core, the original 4200 outruns the final 128MB 4200 board thanks to the added bandwidth provided by its faster memory. When you’re overclocking, try and make sure you’re getting the most out of your memory, there’s no point in having a fast core if it isn’t fed with fast memory.
Return To Castle Wolfenstein MP Test
By now you should know that Castle Wolfenstein is much more CPU-dependant than our previous benchmarks, and as such its more difficult to determine a true winner. The 64MB Ti 4200 board continues to perform well even at the highest resolution we tested (1600x1200) it matches the performance of its 128MB brothers. The 128MB boards may be more future proof, but its nice saving a few extra dollars as well. Lets take a look at our latest benchmark, Novalogic’s Comanche 4!
With Comanche 4, we finally see an application that favors the larger memory capacity of the 128MB boards over the added memory bandwidth of the 64MB Ti 4200, but we don’t see this until we crank the screen resolution up to 1600x1200 (and texture compression was enabled in our tests). At that resolution, the gap is 11%. Could this be a sign of things to come? Possibly for flight simulations (which have always been the most intensive as a whole), but we’re not so sure when it comes to other applications.
Quake III - High Quality
With AA enabled we see the more balanced approach of the original Ti 4200 wins out, although the 64MB Ti 4200 is nipping right on its heels. Meanwhile, the Ti 4400 enjoys a comfortable double-digit lead over all three Ti 4200 boards at 1600x1200.
Quake III - High Quality
Once again the more balanced Ti 4200 NVIDIA had originally drawn up comes out on top (among the Ti 4200 boards) with a 2% lead at all resolutions. Would that have been enough to justify its purchase for you? I guess we’ll never know.
Quake III - High Quality
So there you have it, until you turn on the AA (or test with an intense flight simulation) the added 64MB on the 128MB Ti 4200 boards isn’t taken advantage of in today’s games. Of course, the “original” 128MB Ti 4200 board did outpace the final 64MB board in these tests, but keep in mind that NVIDIA must have had a reason for not releasing it. Considering the rising costs of memory, NVIDIA was probably unable to stick to their original plans for this board. Just look at the Ti 4400 as an example: when the board was originally announced, the estimated MSRP was $249. Final prices on shipping boards ended up at $299. If you’ve been shopping for computer components recently, you’ve probably noticed the rising cost of memory; unfortunately its ramifications have also impacted the video cards we all love so much as well.
Would you have been willing to pay, say, $249 for the original 128MB GeForce4 Ti 4200 NVIDIA had originally promised, or would you get the $179 64MB GeForce4? It depends on just how much you enjoy AA (and having a few extra dollars in your pocket) but we have a feeling most of you would answer in favor of the cheaper board. The added memory available on the 444MHz Ti 4200 is nice for OEMs who want to offer 128MB GeForce4-based systems at an inexpensive price point, but those of you who have examined this article now know that not only is the 64MB board the better bargain, it’s also the better performer.
If you know this, retail card manufacturers do too, therefore we’re assuming the 128MB Ti 4200 will find a place in the OEM market, much like the GeForce4 MX 420 and MX 460 appear to be doing. After all, in the OEM world, performance often takes a back seat to having the right mix of features at a given price point. This is an area where NVIDIA is excelling: look at all the combinations of GeForce4s they’ve released so far this year. There’s literally a new product for every price point!
Now we just wished they offered 64MB versions of the Ti 4400 and Ti 4600. Wouldn’t that be a tempting solution for the gamer on a budget!
In the meantime, the GeForce4 Ti 4200 clearly represents the best value among the GeForce4 Titanium lineup. In fact, at an MSRP of $179, the Ti 4200 is arguably the best value in the mainstream market as well!
SIDEBAR: Has the Ti 4200 caught your interest or are you holding out for something else? Perhaps you always crave the best and you want the Ti 4600? Voice your thoughts in the news comments!
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