NVIDIA's GF4 Ti4200 Vs. Radeon 8500LEs
From Apollo Graphics and ATi

Mainstream Graphics Cards Do Battle...

By - Marco Chiappetta
April 11, 2002


Every product that comes through our doors gets a good "once over" before we install it into our test rigs and begin testing.  What do you say we get up close and personal with the Apollo Graphics Devil Monster II Radeon 8500 LE first?.

Quality of the Apollo Graphics Devil Monster II Radeon 8500 LE
Very Snazzy...

As soon as we opened the Devil Monster's box, we were very excited.  The first few ATi built Radeon's to enter the H.H. labs were equipped with a basic GPU cooler and did not have any RAM cooling solutions at all but not the Devil Monster II!

Although Apollo Graphics is new to us and we haven't seen enough of their product line to make a blanket statement about their build quality, we were very impressed with the craftsmanship of the Devil Monster II Radeon 8500 LE.  The cooler mounted to the front of the card is comprised of one large piece of aluminum and covers the GPU and the RAM installed on the front of the card.  The fan was quiet and pushed a fair amount of air over the heat sink's fins.  On the back of the card, there are also two individual heat sinks mounted to the four remaining RAM chips.  One thing that we were surprised to see is that, although this card is equipped with 128MB of RAM, it is not using the newer BGA packaging found on the ATi built Radeon 8500.  Because of this, the RAM is clocked 20MHz. lower than the ATi built card.  The Devil Monster II Radeon 8500 LE is also equipped with TV-Out and dual monitor outputs, one analog and one DVI.   Should you want to use dual analog monitors, Apollo Graphics has you covered as well.  Instead of shipping with a more common DVI-to-Analog adapter a secondary back plate is included  that connects to a header on the card via a ribbon cable.

Quality of the ATi Radeon 8500 LE
BGA Memory...

  

The ATi Built Radeon 8500 LE is a little more non-descript.  With the exception of the BGA packaged RAM, there is very little to report on.  The card's design is very similar to the original Radeon 8500 Dave reviewed, when it launched back in October.  Because the card is designed and built by ATi themselves, the craftsmanship and build quality is very high.  The GPU cooler is very basic, and unfortunately is mounted using thermal epoxy.  We would have preferred it mounted using spring clips and thermal paste like the Apollo card.  Our card was equipped with a single monitor connector as well as TV-Out.

Quality of the NVIDIA GeForce 4 Ti 4200
Much Smaller than the 4600...

   

We won't dwell too much on the GeForce 4 Ti 4200 because our sample was a reference card that will not be available at retail but there are some very interesting things we want to point out.  First is that size of the card.  It's the same size as a GeForce 2 Ultra, which is about an inch shorter than the GeForce 4 Ti 4400 and 4600s we have here in the lab.  Even the cooler is recycled from previous GeForce generations.  Another interesting aspect is that the RAM is not in BGA packaging like the other GeForce 4 Tis.  The Ti 4200 is also dual-monitor capable and is equipped with DVI and analog monitor connectors as well as TV-Out. 

Installation and Drivers
Anyone can do this...
 
Thankfully all three of the cards installed into our test system without incident.  ATi's and NVIDIA's driver installations are actually very similar.  We installed the cards into our AGP slot, booted into Windows XP and ran the driver installations.  One re-boot later and we were up and running.  We've covered both sets of drivers before, so we won't go in-depth here, but below are screenshots of all of the driver panels available for the Radeons and GeForce 4 Tis.

ATI DRIVERS:

     

     

ATi's driver panels are well laid out and give users control over a slew of different options. We're also happy to report that with the 7.67 - 6.13.10.6037 version of the drivers we used, did not seem to have "issues" in any of the games or benchmarks we ran.  The criticism ATi's has fielded over the years over driver support was well known but ATi seems to have taken the comments to heart and have certainly upped the quality of their drivers.  They are even releasing drivers more frequently as of late.

NVIDIA DRIVERS:

             

                 

NVIDIA's Detonator XPs have made appearances in quite a few of the reviews here on HotHardware.  If you've never used a set of NVIDIA's reference drivers, click through the screen captures about to get yourself acquainted, then crawl out from under the rock you've been hiding under the past couple of years! :)  NVIDIA also lays out their drivers very well and gives users access to numerous settings.

The Test Rig, Some Screens & DirectX 8 Benchmarks