V8460 Ultra Deluxe 128mb GeForce 4 Ti4600
Manufacturer: ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
Purchasing: GB£215 or US$275
(average, subject to change).
Reviewed: 5th September 2002
on from the other hardware reviews on this site, a
look at the great GeForce 4 Ti4600 range will
finish off coverage of the 4 main Direct3D8.1
compatible graphics cards. The GeForce 4 range has
proven (in the reviews on this page) to be faster
than the competition, and this particular revision
is the fastest of the lot.
however, isn't everything. Sure, you need a fairly
fast and capable processor - but it's of equal
importance the features the card offers, and this
product isn't going to let the side down. The
number of connectors and cables this unit packs in
is quite impressive (more on that later).
your reference, the Asus v8440 (this cards
slightly slower variant) has been reviewed here.
already mentioned, this is a Direct3D8 graphics
card - currently the highest specification 3D API
available for the windows platform. Apart from
speed, this offers two major new features to the
graphics pipeline - pixel and vertex shaders.
that Direct3D8 has been around for almost a year
now, it's quite likely you've heard of these new
features, but I'll quickly run over them again. A
Shader (currently) is a small set of assembly like
instructions sent to and executed by the graphics
card's processor. This basically adds a huge
amount of control over the way geometry is
rendered and presented on the screen, pixel
shaders in particular are not possible (in
real-time) using the main CPU. Obviously, as the
names state, pixel shaders operate on the final
pixels rendered to the screen (allowing advanced
lighting and texturing effects) and vertex shaders
operate on the lowest form of geometry data - the
vertices that make up each triangle.
interesting thing to note straight away is that
Direct3D9 is just around the corner, tentatively a
November 2002 release date at time of writing. As
soon as D3D9 is released this card, and all of
it's current generation will become the old
generation, and a new set of beasts will be let
loose onto the scene (ATI's Radeon 9700 is the
first D3D9 compatible unit). Whilst that doesn't
mean this unit will be a waste of space, it should
give cause for thought - waiting a mere 9 weeks
(or so) and two things are likely to happen:
firstly, the price of the D3D8 generation products
will fall as the new ones hit the shelves and
secondly, the new units will enter at a similar
price as this unit currently demands. The general
idea being that if you wait for D3D9 to appear
(along with it's hardware) you'll either get a
cheaper equivalent product or a better product for
the same price.
already mentioned, the Ti4600 based cards are the
fastest D3D8 compatible graphics cards available.
Currently they've only been topped by the new ATI
Radeon 9700, but that's aimed more at the
first-round D3D9 market. It would still be
customary for a review of this type to run down
the performance of this piece of hardware!
SE (build 330) is my current choice software for
measuring the performance of D3D8 graphics
hardware. Given the other reviews I've done that
include the data presented by this software, it
makes for a good set of comparative data.
the record, the test system used is the same one
I've developed every tutorial/article on this
website with. It's a 700mhz Athlon Thunderbird
with 288mb PC100 RAM plugged into a Gigabyte
GA-7ZM KT133 motherboard.
are the overall 3D Mark 2001 scores for the top 4
D3D8 generation graphics cards. the V8460 takes a
small lead over it's slower V8440, but nothing
hugely ground breaking. The overall score is
heavily weighted towards the 4 game tests, which
is not where the Ti4600 really shines. For a more
detailed analysis of the results, read on...
tests built into 3D Mark 2001 test the
entire system with respect to games, this
is obviously highly dependent on the
graphics capabilities, but is also going
to stress the main CPU.
results shown the the left indicate this
can be a problem, in the majority of the
tests all of the GeForce 4 family of cards
clock in at fairly equal speeds - which
shouldn't really be the case. It is
therefore quite likely that the CPU in the
test system couldn't keep up with the
graphics card - it wasn't sending enough
data quickly to allow the graphics card to
stretch it's legs and show off its full
potential. The only case where this isn't
so true is with the 4th test - 'Nature'
which makes heavy use of pixel and vertex
shaders. The other 3 cards all give
respectable scores here, but the V8460 is
in the mid 40's (peaking at over 50fps in
two places). I'd consider 30fps to be the
minimum playable level, but if you're into
the mid 40's then gameplay should be
suitably smooth and fluid. Which, at the
end of the day, is all that really
Rate tests are a very important aspect of the 3D
pipeline. Once all the transformation is out of
the way it is this function of the graphics card
that actually draws the textured triangles on
screen. Given the current complexity of 3D gaming
scenes, a fill rate of 2000 mega-texels can easily
be chewed up, particularly now that the majority
of engines make use of layered textures and/or
pixel shaders. In the results shown above the
V8460 is plenty fast enough - a good 9.7% faster
than the V8440 and 21.9% faster than the Ti4200
reference board, which fits in perfectly with the
product literature. As seen above, the difference
between the Ti4200, V8440 and V8460 is almost
equal - documents from NVidia state that each one
is 10% faster than the previous one.
is the final round of test results exposed by 3D
Mark 2001 - these are all testing only one main
feature, which makes for interesting viewing. In
all but one (pixel shaders) the V8460 pulls
slightly ahead, with the biggest jump being nearly
20fps in the DOT3 bump mapping tests. The anomaly
shown by the lower Pixel shader score is odd - the
results shown here are consistent over 5 separate
benchmarks, so it's not really a one-off result.
However, the increase in Advanced Pixel Shading
would tend to indicate that it's an isolated case.
reviewed here is the 'Ultra Deluxe' version - it's
the top dog of ASUS' 3D card range. This
particular unit has a total of 7 usable connectors
attached to the back plate - quite impressive for
what is essentially a non-professional/'home-user'
The graphics card
itself is actually physically big, as was the
V8440 - which could cause problems on
smaller/compact PC cases. Take a look at this
Left to Right: £50
sterling, ATI Radeon 8500, ASUS V8460
the £50 note is 15cm long.
GeForce 4 Ti4600 is quite a powerful piece of
equipment, and as such generates a fair amount of
heat - hence the rather elaborate heatsink (for
processor and memory). However, you'll still need
good general cooling/air-flow if you intend to
overclock the graphics card (a utility to do this
above photo shows the main outputs for the
v8460graphics card. What's not shown on the image
though, is the TV in/out controller box. As shown
on the diagram there is a TV In/Out port, but this
actually goes to an additional routing box with 4
further connections on it (designed so you can
stick it to your desk and hot-swap it). In
particular, the connection box has an S-Video
in/out port and a Composite in/out port - covering
all the basic needs for TV in and out. The only
connection that's missing from this impressive
bundle is an IEEE1394/Firewire port - as this is
commonly used by digital video cameras (you can
get add-in cards to support it though). As per
standard with the GeForce 4 cards comes support
for dual monitor aided through the 'nView'
far as a relatively cheap (by professional
standards) graphics card goes this has more than
enough bells and whistles to keep most people
happy. TV in/out allows you to do basic video
editing and use your computer as a digital VCR
(software is included to help with this). The
ability to use a dual monitor setup is an amazing
benefit for all professional end-users, it does
often mean the system runs a bit slower, but I
regularly plug my second monitor in when engaging
in a lengthy development session.
only rather pointless add on for this card is the
3D-Glasses, a nice idea, but really just not worth
the hassle. To be brutally honest, I can't think
of a better way to look like a complete idiot
while using your computer (for that reason I won't
include the photo of me wearing them!). If you do
want to use them, and they do do what they're
supposed to do, you'll need a high quality monitor
and not a TFT flat panel (like I use). To use them
properly requires at least a 100hz refresh rate at
one of the supported resolutions (800x600 will
probably be used by most). On a development note,
you don't need to change your games at all to work
with 3D glasses, likewise, you don't need special
in-game support to use them in ones you already
The Ti4600 is a
great processor to have in your machine, if you're
at the cutting edge of technology then it's no
longer the king it once was, and will rapidly
(before xmas) fall behind the current leaders.
Hopefully for us consumers this means that it'll
only be getting cheaper. The Radeon 9700 are the
first attempts at D3D9 compatible graphics cards
and the NV3x cards are due to arrive in time for Christmas.
Given that the there are currently very few games
available that would really stress the
v8460's power, and there are unlikely to be any
for a while yet, it's still a safe choice.
Very strong set of external connectors,
should be more than enough for most
professionals / semi-professionals.
You really need a 1ghz+ processor with a
decent AGP/memory system to make good use
of this card.
Full complement of video memory (128mb)
No longer top-dog, the D3D9 cards are
already starting to steal the show.
Should be slightly better for clocking
than other ASUS 3D cards.
Still quite expensive given it is no
longer the best-of-the-best.
Chipset is from nVidia - a good company to
No Firewire support for in/out on the
Dual-Monitor support out-of-the-box is
Good price compared with rival products.