GeForce4 Ti boards will only become available in larger quantities around CeBIT. As usual, early adopters should be aware that they will definitely be paying a premium for a Ti 4600 card now, since it is currently, quite literally, a class of its own. The only real competition, ATi's R300, is, as yet, only a speck on the roadmap - er, horizon. So, of course the manufacturers will try to capitalize on the Ti performance bonus while they can.
The cards of the Ti 4400 series, with their slightly lower clock speeds, are quite a bit less expensive. Right now, NVIDIA is still holding back the 4200 series, as it would compete with the former flagship GeForce3 Ti500, making that card unsalable. Despite all rumors to the contrary, the 4200 will also be available on retail boards, and not just from OEMs. NVIDIA is targeting mid-April as an introduction date. While some are still skeptical, let me assure you, we will see these boards.
These pre-production samples from ASUS, Creative and Leadtek offer a good first impression of what awaits us in the next few weeks. We will follow up this article with a full review of retail GeForce4 boards when they become available. Of course, a real evaluation of the individual products and bundles is impossible until the companies make final decisions on the contents of their shipping boxes. We should also see some customized drivers from each of the companies by then.
We were a bit disappointed by the absence of a DVI -> CRT adapter for a second VGA monitor from all of the (preliminary) bundles. At the launch event in Brussels, NVIDIA had promised that each and every GeForce4 Ti board, regardless of the manufacturer, would ship with a DVI port or a second VGA connector. After all, one of the company's goals is making multi-monitor environments the norm and encouraging their adoption. While the physical connectors are on the boards, it seems the manufacturers are having trouble shipping the corresponding VGA adapter with their products. It remains to be seen if these adapters will be available separately, as an accessory or extra. If so, it would put an unnecessary financial burden on the consumer. Anyone planning on buying a GeForce4 Ti card should therefore check out the individual cards' bundles beforehand.