Leadtek WinFast GeForce 256 DDR Review


It's been almost three months since we first brought you the review of NVIDIA's newest chipset, the NV-10 or GeForce 256 GPU . From the first review we had of this chipset, we've known there was a huge issue in regards to available memory bandwidth with the SDR GeForce board Proof was provided through extensive testing and comparison between the SDR and DDR reference boards and not just theoretical number crunching. To be honest, the DDR GeForce 256 performance is what we expected from the GeForce product line in the first place. Having the fastest pixel fill-rate in the world isn't going to help you if your performance is bottlenecked by mediocre memory performance. With the arrival of our first released DDR GeForce 256 board, the Leadtek GeForce 256 DDR, we are now able to show you just what you've been missing out on.

The Company

Leadtek has been a dependable company based in Taiwan that manufactures graphics cards, LAN cards, modems, motherboards, and videoconference systems. We've come to expect a solid board from them as well as slightly more expensive designs and/or components for their slightly higher pricing. They do however try keeping the philosophy of shipping a high performance, feature rich board and not worrying too much about what software to bundle. Another interesting note is that Leadtek is known for a strong customer support. If you haven't noticed, Leadtek continues to sell 3DLabs graphics cards (called the "L series") although 3DLabs currently is selling direct. How can they do this? Certain large OEMs prefer the board layout and technical support provided by Leadtek. I'm not saying that 3DLabs isn't a competent company but rather that Leadtek must offer some damn good work if OEMs are willing to dish out a few extra dollars on a large scale to have Leadtek's product over 3DLabs.

The Card

The core graphics chip or heart of the Leadtek WinFast GeForce 256 DDR is based on the GeForce 256 from NVIDIA. Unless you've been hiding in a cage for the past few months, you should know that the GeForce 256 chip is currently the fastest chip available to consumers. It offers leading edge 3D performance through a GPU that offers high fill-rate, hardware transform and lighting (T&L), reasonable DVD playback and now some very serious memory bandwidth thanks to the DDR upgrade. For more detail on the GeForce 256 GPU, please see our full review of the GeForce 256 GPU .

Other non-chipset specific features are the video output and DVI flat-panel connector on the WinFast card. The memory populated on the board is 6ns DDR SGRAM running at 150 MHz. As for the cooling solution on the card, it seems to be the same as with the SDR Leadtek.

Fill-Rate And Memory Bandwidth

There's nothing surprising here because the clock speed of the core is still 120 MHz and the memory speed is 300 MHz like on our reference board. If we were to draw up some theoretical numbers, here is how things would stack up against the current competition.

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Graphics CardFill-RateMemory Bandwidth
NVIDIA GeForce 256 DDR480 Mpixels/sec4.8 GB/sec
NVIDIA GeForce 256 SDR480 Mpixels/sec2.656 GB/sec
ATI Rage Fury MAXX540 Mpixels/sec4.96 GB/sec
S3 Savage 2000250 Mpixels/sec2.48 GB/sec

As we can see from the data above, the GeForce DDR is clearly not the winner. However, with the architecture that ATI uses, the theoretical numbers are a bit deceiving and at the end of the day might be in the same ballpark as the GeForce DDR but not the home run king. In any case, it is very clear that the GeForce is on top of things once coupled with DDR memory.