||ASUS V9280S Ti 4200 Review
November 22, 2002 Chris Angelini
Summary: Based on the AGP 8x GeForce4 Ti 4200 core, the ASUS V9280S sports higher clock speeds (128MB of 600MHz memory), and video input/output capability as a few of its more impressive features. In fact, this is the best GeForce4 Ti 4200 card we've tested! Find out why we were so impressed by this card in today's review!
| Introduction||Page:: ( 1 / 11 )|
It would seem as though the graphics market is now cleanly divided between manufacturers peddling the latest from ATI and others remaining faithful to NVIDIA, waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for GeForce FX processors. For now, those loyal to the green and black are being forced to compete on the basis of price and value, since the RADEON 9700 Pro holds a clear performance advantage.
A few variables are complicating the situation for NVIDIA, though. To begin with, it recently released the NV28 and NV18 graphics processors that introduce AGP 8x support to the GeForce4 lineup. AGP 8x doesn’t add any additional performance, at least in today’s games, but it does serve to attract the attention of OEM’s looking for the latest and greatest. Further, even though we’ve talked to several manufacturers with GeForce4 Ti 4800 (Ti 4600 with AGP 8x) cards in the works, the Ti 4200 and MX 440 are currently the only cores readily available sporting the AGP 8x capability.
As a result, NVIDIA’s partners are striving to milk performance from the Ti 4200 core. ABIT uses its OTES cooling solution to draw attention. MSI offers a slew of software along with a dual-VGA feature. Meanwhile, ASUS has crafted a package that combines an oversized cooler with a useful software bundle, on top of video-in/out capabilities and a 600MHz memory bus.
Not Your Everyday 4200
ASUS continues to manufacture graphics products that stand out from its competitors. If the NV28 reference design were likened to a Mercedes Benz C320 sedan, ASUS’ V9280S could accurately be compared to the AMG-modified C32. Simply, ASUS has taken a very capable core and paired it with 3.3ns BGA memory capable of 300MHz (600MHz effective). Moreover, the card has been outfitted with improved cooling, TV-out capabilities, a video input breakout box, and dual-display support.
|<% print_image("01"); %>||<% print_image("02"); %>|
When NVIDIA unveiled its NV28 and NV18 graphics processors, it concurrently released reference cards based on the new cores. The NV28 model came with a 250MHz Ti 4200 core and 128MB of memory operating at 513MHz. Despite the addition of AGP 8x support, the card performed on par with other Ti 4200 cards in our lab. AGP 8x was obviously not enough to net a performance gain – at least in the games available today. ASUS has addressed the meager improvement by running the NV28 core faster than the specification set forth by NVIDIA. The V9280S runs with a 275MHz graphics processor and 128MB of memory clocked effectively at 600MHz (Samsung –GC33). In comparison, the reference GeForce4 Ti 4400 runs at 275/550MHz!
SIDEBAR: ASUS’ V9280S product page
| The Card (Continued) and AGP 8x||Page:: ( 2 / 11 )|
Cooling the V9280S
In order to maintain stability at the selected, “overclocked” frequency, ASUS utilizes a copper heat sink and a generous application of thermal grease for efficient heat transfer. The 16MB BGA memory modules mounted on the front of the card are covered by memory heat sinks and attached with thermal adhesive. Oddly, the back of the card is covered with an adhesive aluminum plate, apparently designed to remove heat from the memory modules on the back of the card and a couple of other hot spots ASUS has identified. Unfortunately the plate doesn’t make contact with three of the four modules, calling into question its ability to cool the back of the card.
We didn’t encounter any stability problems at default speeds, though, and the board still proved to be an effective overclocker. Rather than use the standard 6-layer reference PCB for the V9280S, ASUS has opted for the more expensive 8-layer design required for the Ti 4400 and 4600 cards. Past conversations with NVIDIA have indicated that the 8-layer design facilitates improved signal integrity as the core and memory clock speeds increase.
Video editing capabilities
Many competing Ti4200-8x cards skimp on connectivity features in the interest of cutting costs. Instead of following suit, ASUS has added Silicon Image’s Sil164CT64 PanelLink Transmitter – the same digital-output chip found on NVIDIA’s reference board. Further, it has included Philips’ SAA7108AE video encoder/decoder chip for S-Video and composite TV-output, as well as S-Video and composite input through an external breakout box. The breakout connector is very similar to what ATI uses for the All in Wonder RADEON 9700 Pro, minus the audio input. A small strip of Velcro is also included for mounting the box wherever convenient. ASUS also includes a DVI adapter to enable a second VGA output.
|<% print_image("03"); %>||<% print_image("04"); %>|
As if the hardware package weren’t enough, ASUS also includes a fairly comprehensive software package. Full versions of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Black Thorn, and Worms Blast are included, along with a couple of demos, video editing software, ASUSDVD, and that Aquarium screensaver my parents seem to love so much.
The most prevalent feature of the NV28 core is of course support for AGP 8x. Only a few chipsets support the new feature, and of those that do, we’ve found some problems with the RADEON 9700 Pro functioning properly. We were naturally a little apprehensive about NVIDIA’s AGP 8x effort, but our SiS 648 test bed exhibited perfect stability. At least for the time being, it simply seems as though ATI has some more work to do in order to realize the same level of compatibility.
SIDEBAR: KT400A is in the works and should be available around the end of this year.
| Overclocking/Test Systems||Page:: ( 3 / 11 )|
As it stands, the ASUS V9280S is already technically overclocked. As we saw with the ABIT GeForce4 Ti 4200 OTES though, the Ti 4200 core has quite a bit of headroom for larger frequency increases. The 3.3ns memory on the card is running at its rated speed, but we thought that perhaps the memory heat sinks may extend the useful range of the modules.
Sure enough, the card proved stable all the way up to 305/660MHz – faster than a GeForce4 Ti 4600. You’re about to see that the V9280S’ Ti 4200 nomenclature is a little deceiving – overclocked, it is able to beat the Ti 4400 hands down.
Intel Pentium 4 3.06GHz (no Hyper Threading)
ASUS P4S8X SiS 648 Motherboard
512MB Corsair XMS3200 CAS2 Memory
ASUS V9280S GeForce4 Ti 4200-8X 128MB
NVIDIA NV28 GeForce4 Ti 4200 Reference Design 128MB
PNY Verto GeForce4 Ti 4400 128MB
Detonator Driver 40.71
30GB IBM Deskstar DTLA 307030 ATA-100 Hard Drive
Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 1
Desktop resolution 1024x768, 32-bit color, 75Hz refresh
All power saving options were turned off, as were the Automatic Update and System Restore services. Graphics options under the ‘Performance’ tab were all disabled for maximum performance.
Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo
3D Mark 2001 Second Edition Build 330 – 32-bit color
Quake III: Arena version 1.17 ‘Demo001’ demo
Serious Sam: The Second Encounter – 32-bit color, Elephant Atrium demo
SIDEBAR: Worms Blast may sound like a harmless, bundled game, but it is fairly addictive.
| 3D Mark 2001 SE||Page:: ( 4 / 11 )|
3D Mark 2001 SE v.330 – DirectX 8
3DMark 2001 - DirectX 8
Sure enough, the ASUS V9280S is able to pace the GeForce4 Ti 4400 card, all the while obliterating the reference NV28 card by which many other manufacturers will abide. Overclocked, the V9280S extends its lead by an additional seven percent at 1280x1024. Suffice to say, these benchmark results paint a very positive picture for the ASUS V9280S.
SIDEBAR: Does FX Flow look a lot like ABIT’s OTES cooling solution? We thought so too…
| 3D Mark 2001 SE – Frame Rates||Page:: ( 5 / 11 )|
3DMark 2001 - Car Chase
3DMark 2001 - Dragothic
3DMark 2001 - Lobby
3DMark 2001 - Nature
SIDEBAR: The Tablet PC stole the show this year at Comdex. Cramming 40GB of storage, wireless networking, and an 800MHz processor into a lightweight tablet is truly an accomplishment.
| Serious Sam SE||Page:: ( 6 / 11 )|
Serious Sam SE (Elephant Atrium) – OpenGL
The ASUS V9280S and the Ti 4400 cards go neck in neck once again, all the way up to 1600x1200. At that resolution, the ASUS card picks up a nine percent performance boost by virtue of overclocking. Further, the reference design is bested by nine percent even with the V9280S running at its default speed.
SIDEBAR: Charles Barkley lost a bet and had to kiss a donkey’s posterior. Ironic, coming from the man famous for saying, “Anything less would be uncivilized.”
| Quake III: Arena||Page:: ( 7 / 11 )|
Quake III v.1.17 Demo001 – OpenGL
Quake III isn’t the stress test it once was. For that we’ve got Unreal Tournament 2003. So, even while ASUS may claim that the V9280S is 20% faster than the ‘generic’ Ti 4200, it is important to understand that reference is only made to memory frequency and is not representative of overall graphics performance. Even still, at 1600x1200 the V9280S is more than 11 percent faster than the reference NV28 card. Overclocked, the ASUS card is 20 percent faster, though.
SIDEBAR: If the DirectX 9 specification calls for 16 textures per pass to be processed, can the RADEON 9500 be considered compatible considering it sports four rendering pipelines?
| Comanche 4||Page:: ( 8 / 11 )|
Comanche 4 – DirectX 8
Some games effectively stress the video subsystem, while others are more processor-intensive. Comanche 4 is one such application, as the tested GeForce4 cards all run in a tight pack all the way up to 1280x1024. Only at 1600x1200 does that ASUS V9280 show a slight advantage. The card does pick up an additional three frames per second thanks to overclocking.
SIDEBAR: ASUS’ golden heat sink cover, golden memory heat sinks and golden back-plate scream, “It’s all about the Benjamin’s, baby.”
| Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo||Page:: ( 9 / 11 )|
Unreal Tournament 2003 – DirectX 8
Unreal Tournament 2003 - Botmatch
As with Comanche 4, the Unreal Tournament Bot Match demos are more processor intensive than anything. The Flyby sequence does a better job measuring graphics performance, indicated by the V9280S’ nine percent lead over the reference NV28 at 1600x1200. Running at 305/660MHz, the ASUS card picks up a ten percent frame rate increase, at the same time nearly besting the Ti 4400 by a margin of 11 percent.
| Ballistics Report||Page:: ( 10 / 11 )|
Performance: ASUS is distinguishing the V9280S first and foremost with performance. Equipped with a 275MHz core and a 600MHz memory bus, the ASUS card easily bests the GeForce4 Ti 4400. Overclocked, it performs more along the line of what we’d expect from a Ti 4600.
Design: It may not have a profound impact on your purchasing decision, but the V9280S is built using an 8-layer PCB similar to what is used for the Ti 4400 and 4600 cards. The copper heat sink, slathered with thermal compound, effectively draws heat away from the core, facilitating an average overclock from the core. The memory overclocks’ remarkably well, regardless of how effective the memory heat sinks are or are not.
Bundle: Included hardware and software generally don’t impact our ratings, however, ASUS has done an excellent job at making the V9280S a card worth spending some money on. The video input/output block enables a host of connectivity options and the DVI adapter allows a second VGA display to be attached. Several complete software titles round out the package, along with DVD software and a video editing title.
128MB of Memory: We’ve been impressed with Ti 4200 cards before; some even equipped with 64MB of memory. The ASUS V9280S doesn’t demand that sort of compromise though, as it comes equipped with 128MB of 3.3ns DDR memory.
RADEON 9500 Pro: While this isn’t the fault of ASUS or the V9280S, some consumers may wish to wait and see how the RADEON 9500 Pro performs in comparison to GeForce4 Ti 4200 cards like the ASUS V9280S before plunking down their hard-earned cash. If these cards offer considerably more performance than Ti 4200 for only a few dollars more, things will be tougher for card manufacturers partnering with NVIDIA.
SIDEBAR: ASUS also offers a GeForce4 MX440 card with AGP 8x support and 64MB of DDR memory.
| Final Verdict||Page:: ( 11 / 11 )|
Without question, the ASUS V9280S is the most complete GeForce4 Ti 4200 card we’ve had the pleasure of working with. It’s fast, it overclocks, it is extremely well-built, includes a generous software bundle, and can be found for under $200. It’d be difficult to not recommend it. Keep a couple of things in mind, though, before you procure your credit card.
ATI is on a roll. Not only at the high-end, but also in the market ASUS is aiming for with the V9280S. ATI RADEON 9500 Pro cards will start appearing within the next couple of weeks, and rumor has it that the card will perform within range of NVIDIA’s GeForce4 Ti 4600, also for under $200. It may not include the comprehensive package ASUS has put together, but it would definitely be worthwhile to gauge the card’s performance before making an impulsive buy. Remember, the RADEON 9500 Pro brings a complete DirectX 9 feature set to the table, in addition to eight rendering pipelines.
Also, prices may very well fall once the GeForce4 Ti 4800 is ready to roll. Don’t get me wrong, $200 is a reasonable price considering the V9280S’s flexibility, but at $160 or $170, it’d be even more compelling. Put it this way: if a V9280S were to end up under the Christmas tree this year, I’d be happy…
At least until February, anyway, when the GeForce FX is scheduled to hit store shelves.
SIDEBAR: Is the ASUS V9280S as good as we claim or do you have something against an “overclocked” Ti 4200? Would you prefer a RADEON 9500 Pro? Please, let us know!