||ASUS V8460 Ultra Review
April 26, 2002 Brandon "Sandman" Bell
Summary: Based on NVIDIA's GeForce4 Ti 4600 GPU, the ASUS V8460 Ultra is the current flagship of ASUS' video line. See how this purple wonder performs in our latest review!
| Introduction||Page:: ( 1 / 11 )|
ASUS: Video manufacturer extraordinaire
While ASUS has established a reputation for building high quality, reliable motherboards ASUS hasn’t quite established the same reputation in the video card field. In fact, many of you may be surprised to know that ASUS is one of NVIDIA’s closest partners, with products dating back to NVIDIA’s RIVA 128 graphics core. Over the years ASUS has introduced a steady dose of improvements to its graphics products, unlike most card manufacturers, ASUS does not follow NVIDIA’s reference design.
Instead, ASUS implements its own changes, for instance a unique board design with shorter traces may be used, or as in the case of the original GeForce 256 DDR, ASUS implemented a variant with 64MB of memory onboard. It’s because of this that ASUS’ graphics products aren’t always the first to market. Instead, ASUS engineers focus on improving NVIDIA’s reference design so that their products are better than the average retail card you’ll find on most store shelves.
Unique software solutions
In addition to making changes to the hardware, ASUS has historically added its own unique software programs to all of its graphics cards as well. For instance, ASUS was the first video card manufacturer to bundle smart hardware utilities that went beyond overclocking the graphics card. One example is ASUS’ Smart Doctor utility. With Smart Doctor, not only can the graphics core temperature be monitored, the end user can also be alerted if the graphics card begins to overheat, or if the cooling fan on the graphics card fails.
Besides providing hardware monitoring utilities, ASUS has also been known to go a bit over the top for its customers. Two years ago ASUS received quite a bit of flack from the gaming community for providing special drivers that allowed its users to see through walls and other objects in games. It goes without saying that gamers without ASUS video cards didn’t appreciate this move. Fortunately ASUS realized it had gone a bit too far in its attempt to stand out from the other card manufacturers and promptly removed the drivers from its website.
Now that the GeForce4 Titanium is here, has ASUS followed its roots with the V8460 Ultra? Lets find out!
SIDEBAR: ASUS V8460 Ultra Product Webpage
| Specifications||Page:: ( 2 / 11 )|
NVIDIA® GeForce 4 Ti 4600 GPU
128MB high speed DDR video memory with 10.4 GB/sec bandwidth
4.8 billion AA samples/sec fill-rate, 86 million triangles/sec
1.23 trillion operations/second
Uses "Immersion Gold Coating" for enhanced reliability and circuit connections
Special "Copper Fan Sink" cooling solution for superior overclocking and performance
On-board TV-out support up to 1024x768 resolution
On-board DVI support up to 1280x1024 resolution
NVIDIA video processing engine (VPE)
High-quality HDTV/DVD playback
nView display technology for powering multiple displays
Integrated 350MHz RAMDAC, resolution up to 2048x1536 (VGA output), True Color @ 60Hz
Accuview antialiasing subsystem
Full acceleration for Microsoft DirectX 8.1 and OpenGL 1.3 ICD
Software bundle: Driver CD, ASUS DVD2000 player, full versions of Aquanox, and Midnight GT Action Racing, demos of Comanche 4, Delta Force Land Warrior, Colin McRae Rally 2.0, Operation Flashpoint, Incoming Forces, Rally Championship Extreme
Chances are you’re probably pretty familiar with the GeForce4 Ti 4600’s specs by now, but just in case we’ll provide a quick recap. While the “GeForce4” designation indicates a next generation design, the GeForce4 Titanium series builds upon NVIDIA’s GeForce3 GPU that was introduced just over a year ago today. The GeForce4 sports dual vertex shaders and enhanced pixel shaders, which should allow developers to create even more lifelike environments (with higher polygon counts) without the performance hit present in GeForce3. Madonion.com’s “nature” demo in 3DMark 2001 is a perfect example; we witnessed a 32% performance improvement in GeForce4 in our original preview.
NVIDIA has also gone back and enhanced their antialiasing performance. With Accuview AA, NVIDIA has moved the sample locations to the corners. The final result is an image that looks clearer and performs faster. In fact, Quincunx AA mode runs with practically no performance hit with the GeForce4 series of graphics cards.
With the V8460, ASUS has simply taken the GeForce4 Ti 4600 core and implemented their own changes to produce their final product. While the V8460 was initially believed to ship with a higher core and memory clock speed, ASUS chose to stick with NVIDIA’s specs and kept the core to 300MHz, while the DDR memory operates at 650MHz. Despite this, ASUS has managed to implement a few changes with their V8460 Ultra board.
SIDEBAR: The highest we were able to overclock our V8460 Ultra was 310/680. This is a bit lower than other GeForce4 Ti 4600 boards we’ve tested, but keep in mind that with overclocking, results will vary from card to card.
| V8460 in-depth||Page:: ( 3 / 11 )|
ASUS’ Ti 4600 lineup
As is tradition with ASUS, two versions of the Ti 4600 will be produced. Previously the variants were designated “Pure” and “Deluxe”, with the Pure model available to market first and at a lower price point. As its name suggests, the Pure model is the no-frills design, while the Deluxe board features additional inputs and outputs for the audio/visual enthusiasts. For the Ti 4600 this continues, although now the V8460 Ultra takes the place of the Pure lineup for ASUS, with the V8460 set for release at a later date.
As a result the V8460 Ultra sports the standard VGA output, as well as a DVI output for flat panel displays. In case you wish to use a traditional analog monitor for your second display, ASUS also bundles a DVI-to-VGA adapter with the V8460 Ultra, and for output to a television display an S-Video output is built onboard (with the necessary S-Video cable also provided). Those of you who wish to make your own home movies will have to wait for the Deluxe model, as the V8460 Ultra does not include the MPEG encoder chip present on the GeForce4 VIVO boards (such as the GeForce4 Xtasy from VisionTek).
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The first aspect you’ll notice of the V8460 Ultra is its distinctive purple printed-circuit board (PCB). ASUS also goes one step beyond its competitors with its gold immersion coating finish. According to the company, this process improves the connections of the circuits on the board resulting in greater reliability. Personally, we’ve been unable to really stress the circuits out on any of our GeForce4 Titanium boards to the point where stability becomes an issue. Perhaps in high temperature environments where the video card is overclocked and put under stress for an extended period of time, but from our experience the best way to crash any system is with a poor driver (or buggy OS in general).
Besides the unique PCB, ASUS has also implemented its own cooling solution for the V8460 Ultra. Rather than use NVIDIA’s patent-pending aluminum heatsink/fan cooler ASUS uses a nickel-plated copper cooler. Copper’s superior heat conductivity should make ASUS’ cooler better than the reference heatsink, although we didn’t conduct extensive tests to see how much cooler (if any) our ASUS board operated in comparison to the NVIDIA reference board.
Other than the aforementioned features, the V8460 is the same as NVIDIA’s reference Ti 4600 card. That’s right folks, the V8460 Ultra is for the most part, a reference design.
No Smart Doctor
In the introduction we boasted of the capabilities of ASUS’ Smart Doctor utility. Unfortunately, V8460 Ultra owners will never get a chance to experience just how powerful Smart Doctor is. ASUS has elected to make Smart Doctor a feature on the Deluxe models only, leaving V8460 Ultra users in the dark. We find this really disappointing as Smart Doctor was one of the features that really helped all of ASUS’ cards stand out from the pack. In fact, we’d take Smart Doctor over the V8460 Ultra’s game bundle in a heartbeat.
SIDEBAR: NVIDIA’s reference cooler actually ducts the air from the cooler over the memory chips. In our case this air is cool, although in really warm cases we wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t the case.
| System Setup||Page:: ( 4 / 11 )|
Intel Pentium 4 2.2GHz
256MB PC2100 CAS2 DDR SDRAM
ASUS V8460 GeForce4 Ti 4600
NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600 reference board
NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 reference board
VisionTek Xtasy GeForce4 Ti 4400
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
Quake 3 Retail - High Quality
Serious Sam: The Second Encounter - Normal (32-bit) The Elephant Atrium demo
Jedi Knight II – Normal Quality
SIDEBAR: The codename for the GeForce4 Titanium was NV25.
| 3DMark 2001||Page:: ( 5 / 11 )|
3DMark 2001 - DirectX 8
SIDEBAR: ASUS also manufactures GeForce4 boards based on the Ti 4400 and GeForce4 MX 420/MX440.
| 3DMark2001 Framerates||Page:: ( 6 / 11 )|
3DMark 2001 - Car Chase
3DMark 2001 - Dragothic
3DMark 2001 - Lobby
3DMark 2001 - Nature
SIDEBAR: The Ti 4600 and Ti 4400 reference boards are designated NV25U and NV25 upon bootup.
| Serious Sam 2||Page:: ( 7 / 11 )|
Serious Sam 2 - OpenGL
SIDEBAR: A new patch for Serious Sam was just released. Download it here.
| Quake III||Page:: ( 8 / 11 )|
Quake III - High Quality
SIDEBAR: Besides graphics cards and motherboards, ASUS also manufactures notebook PCs.
| Jedi Knight II||Page:: ( 9 / 11 )|
Jedi Knight II
SIDEBAR: To run benchmarks in Jedi Knight II, refer to our Jedi Knight II 3D Shootout article for instructions.
| Ballistics Report||Page:: ( 10 / 11 )|
Performance: As a GeForce4 Ti 4600 card, the performance of the V8460 is top notch. One of the beauties of the GeForce4 core is its Accuview antialiasing engine, which truly brings high resolution AA to all of today’s latest games. Quite simply, you aren’t going to find a faster graphics card than the V8460, unless it’s another Ti 4600 board, and with all designs following NVIDIA’s 300/650 spec performance on all cards should be roughly the same.
nView: Thanks to the dual RAMDACs present in the Ti 4600, the V8460 can support multiple displays. ASUS includes outputs for one flat panel display and one CRT, or two CRTs via the DVI-to-VGA adapter included in the packaging. Previously, the only NVIDIA GPU to support multiple displays was the GeForce2 MX.
Design changes: Rather than stick with the traditional aluminum heatsink/fan used by the reference Ti 4600 board, ASUS has implemented a unique copper cooling solution. In addition, ASUS goes the extra mile with its gold immersion coating PCB finishing process. Both of these changes may make the V8460 a more reliable solution under stressful situations, although to be honest you’d probably have to be abusing your video card pretty bad to really see either of these benefits (we certainly didn’t when overclocking).
Price: As a Ti 4600 card, the V8460 Ultra would be one of the most expensive components in your system. List price for Ti 4600 boards is still $400, with street prices on Price Watch putting the V8460 Ultra generally in the $370 range. This prices it a bit higher than most Ti 4600 boards, solutions from PNY and eVGA can be found for about $50 less.
No Smart Doctor: One of the features we’ve really liked about the ASUS boards is their Smart Doctor utility. With hardware monitoring support, and even dynamic overclocking available, Smart Doctor is miles ahead of its competition (now that AOpen no longer manufactures video cards). Unfortunately, Smart Doctor is now only available with ASUS Deluxe boards, so end users will have to fork over more dough to experience this excellent utility.
SIDEBAR: Looks like the Lakers are on their way to another sweep. The biggest surprise has been the behavior of Rasheed Wallace. He’s actually been fairly composed this year.
| Final Verdict||Page:: ( 11 / 11 )|