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Gainward GeForce4 PowerPack Ultra/750XP
By Aaron Yip
Category : Graphics
Published by Jimmy Tang on Monday, 14th October, 2002
Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars  

The Card

Opening up the Gainward GeForce4 Power Pack! package emerged the standard fanfare such as the Golden Sample Ultra/750XP graphics card, a VIVO interface dongle, a thin manual and the software package. To soup up the bundle even further, Gainward has included a 3D Glass and surprise, surprise, a PCI IEEE 1394 card along with a cable.

A bird's eye view of the Gainward Ultra/750XP card.

The bottom part of the card also comes with RAMsinks stuck on the RAM chips.

Gainward have followed NVIDIA's reference design for the Ultra/750XP HSF.

Looking at the crimson-colored PCB based Ultra/750XP card, one can't help but notice the dark pinkish RAMsinks and the HSF (Heat Sink Fan) sitting atop of the Ti4600 chipset. Speaking of the HSF, the Ultra/750XP's isn't as "scientifically" designed as the Sparkle or Leadtek's Ti4600-based cards. Instead, it follows the NVIDIA reference board's HSF model seen in other boards elsewhere. But we thought the red-colored top with a Chinese opera mask gave it a very neat and clean oriental feel to it. Prying the RAMsinks revealed the use of Thermal Tape instead of the conventional Thermal Paste used between heatsinks and silicon chips.

The Gainward Ultra/750XP features dual DVI ports. LCD monitor users will cheer. But CRT purists will cry foul - that any signal conversion will degrade video quality. In our tests, there were no noticeable quality degration though.

The use of Thermal Tape in this Gainward card is quite common sense actually as Thermal Paste are not adhesive (You won't want RAMsinks that fall out right?). However, as we've mentioned before, thermal paste has better conductivity and since it is in a 'paste' form, it would be able to fill up any micro-pockets of space caused by uneven surfaces between the RAMsink and the memory chip itself. The other alternative that Gainward should have considered is thermal epoxy.

One of the RAM chip as seen here.

The Ultra/750XP uses Thermal Tapes between its RAMs and RAMsinks.

Upon removing the RAMsinks, we can see from the picture above that the Gainward Ultra/750XP uses the K4D26323RA-GC2B from Samsung. If you'd read Vijay's review on the Sparkle Platinum GeForce4 Ti 4600 (also using the same Samsung RAMs), you would have known that while the GC2A and GC2C variants are mentioned in the product information list, the GC2B isn't. In any case, the GC2A is certified for 350MHz DDR clock and the GC2C is certified for 375MHz DDR clock. Hence we deduced that the GC2B variant should perform somewhere between them, theoretically. And like the Sparkle card, the Gainward Ultra/750XP also has its memory clocked at 680MHz by default. Since the RAMs are actually capable of running beyond 700MHz (DDR), there is still some headroom left for the overclockers.

A look at one of two of the Silicon Image chip used to power up the DVI ports.

The Gainward card also comes with VIVO (Video-In/Video-Out) functionality. Enpowering that feature is the reliable onboard Philips Video Encoder/Decoder chipset, which is based on the common SAA7108E model. Gainward have also included a VIVO interface dongle that comes with RCA and S-Video interfaces for input and output. But don't expect perfect video quality here as we felt that the dongle here could have been better built - with adequate shielding as well as gold connectors. An extra S-Video extension cable would have been most helpful too, since the one on the dongle is a tad too short.

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