As I have always stated, overclocking isn't the safest use of your hardware and results from my testing may vary from what others see. With that being said, I went ahead and tested the maximum stable settings for each card, tested thermal conditions and checked to see which boards were able to overclock in the BX platform at 133 MHz FSB.
There were several interesting discoveries in this testing. First, lets look at the test results then move onto a few notes I have. By far the number one board was the Leadtek. You'll notice that the Leadtek WFGF2 was able to achieve the highest core and memory speed and thus the best score. The core speed performance we can definitely thank the insane cooling solution for on the Leadtek board. The memory speed it achieved was also impressive but I think it was more luck than anything.
The ELSA Gladiac was hardware limited on its memory performance as no matter how high I set the software setting, the real world limit was 380 MHz memory. Keep in mind that just because a setting if offered in software doesn't mean the hardware can support it.
I tested many settings before getting the peak scores and can assure you that the overclocked core gains at PEAK were providing about a 1% frame rate boost while the memory was offering a near 25% boost in the case of the Leadtek board 29.6 FPS stock vs. 36.3 FPS at 400 MHz memory. This further supports our claim to the GeForce2 board being crippled by its lagging memory performance. People will be sadly disappointed to find out that core overclocking will do basically nothing for them unless you're in 16-bit color and mid to low resolutions.
So what did the thermal readings look like during the testing?
|AOpen PA256 Pro||ELSA Gladiac||Leadtek WFGF2|
|Normal Working Temperature||54||49||47|
Obviously the Leadtek board was the coolest due to its insane cooling solution while the AOpen board just loved to generate heat for some reason. The heat sink and fan was visually the same as the Gladiac but for whatever reasons it had the highest thermal heat during normal and overclocked conditions.
Each board was tested on my BX platform and all passed the test with stability by enduring an hours worth of Quake 3 on a populated server. The test scores were nothing surprising other than the lowest resolution scores being slightly faster than the OR840 because fast writes are unavailable while they're on by default for the 840 board. No special settings were used to get the boards to work properly so I'm very confident that you should see similar results.
The AOpen PA256 Pro's main advantages are a decent price (OEM package), a promising feature called OpenBIOS and video-out that offers a wide range of output settings. The rest of the package is fair but offers nothing compelling at the moment over the competition. This board may prove to be the best overclocking solution once OpenBIOS is released and its coupled with a much better cooling solution than it comes with but until then its' all around average offering doesn't help it stand out from the crowd.
ELSA is out in full force in local stores here in the US and can be purchased, right now. The Gladiac offers an interesting software bundle arrangement for those that care about bundled games and the DVD player can be had with a little effort. The ability to upgrade to video in/out is another benefit especially if you're into the video capture side of things as it currently is the only video-in solution and comes packaged with video capture software.
The Leadtek WFGF2 with its massive heat sink, solid overclocking performance, DVD software, video-out and good price make it a tough card to beat. Although this board will not have video-in capabilities, it does come with everything else you will most likely need in a GeForce2 based board.
With that being said, I have to give Leadtek WinFast GeForce2 GTS the thumbs up for the currently best available GeForce2 solution. The price, package, performance and stability of this board earned it the highest marks over any of the competition.