Left to right: ASUS, Creative, Leadtek
It's been three weeks since NVIDIA unveiled its new GeForce4 Series, and now the first retail boards are starting to find their way into the market. So far, the vast majority of these boards are still based on the less expensive GeForce4 MX, though. This makes sense, since the GeForce4 MX is basically only a GeForce2 chip with its simple T&L engine, a second RAMDAC for DualDisplay functionality (nView), a watered-down version of the 'LightSpeed Memory Architecture II' and an AccuView FSAA unit added onto it. However, it does not have the DirectX 8 capable pixel and vertex shaders of the GeForce4 Ti and the GeForce3 families.
Actually, the GeForce4 Ti isn't really a new design either, technologically speaking. It builds on the strengths of the GeForce3 design (code name NV20), adding a second vertex shader and implementing numerous design tweaks. The largest part of its performance gain over the GeForce3 stems from higher memory and chip clock speeds. You can read up on the technology behind the GeForce4 MX (NV 17) and the GeForce4 Ti (NV25) in the article PC Graphics Beyond XBOX - NVIDIA Introduces GeForce4 .
Now the card manufacturers are busily preparing their GeForce4 Ti boards. ASUS, Creative, and Leadtek were kind enough to send us their early GeForce4 Ti4600 boards for review. These cards are still prototype boards, so some details may still change before the retail versions are released. Of the three companies, only Leadtek was able to send us customized drivers. Also, as of this article's press time, no final decisions have been made as to the software bundles that will be shipping with these boards. One (unnamed) company even wanted to send us an NVIDIA reference board. Obviously, the time is not yet right for a full-blown review with final ratings. But we should be able to get our bearings and gather some first impressions.