Leadtek WinFast GeForce 256 DDR Revision Bby Matthew Witheiler on March 1, 2000 3:52 AM EST
- Posted in
Unlike most GeForce cards that enter the lab, the most striking feature of the WinFast GeForce 256 DDR Revision B is not its blatant use of NVIDIA's reference design. Yes, it is true that the card is essentially NVIDIA's reference design layout with a few enhancements (discussed later), however is it not this aspect of the card that catches one attention. In the case of the WinFast GeForce 256 DDR Revision B, the huge gold heatsink and fan takes the prize for eye catcher. In a world of reference design boards and seemingly indistinguishable cards, the large heatsink that comes attached to the GeForce processor allows the Revision B card to stand out: not only visually but also on the performance front.
Measuring an impressive 8.5 cm x 4.5 cm, significantly larger than the 4.5 cm x 4.5 cm heatsinks found on every other DDR card we have reviewed, the oversized heatsink is one of the two most significant improvements made from Revision A to Revision B; improvements that not only set the card apart from its younger sibling but also from many other DDR cards reviewed. It may seem that such a large heatsink is an over kill, but in the world of heatsinks larger is better. The reason for this is rather simple: the larger a heatsink, the more surface area it has. The more surface area that a heatsink has, the easier it is for heat to be distributed away from the hot core and cooled via the fan. With large fins on the side of the heatsink, the heatsink found on Revision B is the one of the most impressive one we have seen on a card straight from the manufacturer. The only real down side to this is that cooling is slightly decreased due to the small amount of thermal grease used to transfer heat from the GPU to the heatsink. A more generously applied amount has the potential to aid cooling even more.
Stuck on with a small amount of thermal grease and push pins, one might wonder why the Leadtek chose to include a rather pricey piece of hardware on a card that really can not take advantage of it at stock clock speed. As stated in pervious reviews, NVIDIA has been very strict when it comes to clock speeds of cards. Rather than have a suggested speed as was used in the TNT2 based cards, NVIDIA now mandates that DDR GeForce cards sold must come at 120/300 MHz. This being the case, every GeForce card we have seen deals with the heat produced by a 120 MHz core speed just fine with the reference design 4.5 cm x 4.5 cm low profile heatsink and fan. Why did Leadtek chose to use a heatsink and fan combination that keeps the chip well below maximum operating temperatures? Well, by using such an efficient cooling system Leadtek knew that they could attract a large section of the overclocking market because the use of such a heatsink and fan will basically eliminate heat from the GeForce's speed limit and set the maximum speed in the hands of chip quality.
The other feature that sets Revision B apart from Revision A of the Leadtek WinFast GeForce 256 DDR, as well as from other DDR cards in its price range, is the addition of S-Video as well as composite TV-out features. Powered by the same Brooktree 869 chip found on almost all other GeForce cards with TV-out, the WinFast GeForce 256 DDR Revision B card uses a special TV-out connector to provide the card with both composite as well as S-Video out features. The card comes with a dongle like cable that converts the signal outputted from the Brooktree chip into formats. This feature is a very strong selling point to many users who want video-out functions. While the number of S-Video products on the market are constantly growing, odds are that if you have a television that is not relatively new, your TV does not have an S-Video in connector. By including a composite out feature, the WinFast GeForce 256 DDR Revision B is able to put clear output not only to the most modern and expensive equipment but also to your older television.
With these special features of the WinFast GeForce 256 DDR Revision B out of the way, it can now be seen that the base of the card is essentially the same as other reference design boards out there. The card includes 32 MB of 6 ns DDR SGRAM, once again provided by Infineon. Seemingly the king of the DDR SGRAM market, Infineon is the only manufacturer that we have seen who produces DDR RAM for use in graphics cards. In addition, it seems that their only current product is the 6 ns RAM chips, meaning that no time soon will your card's RAM be outdated. The layout of the card is reference design, however Leadtek says that have "enhanced circuitry for flawless memory data transfer in higher memory clock rates," a fact that really can not be seen when compared to other GeForce cards on the market.
The one question that remains is why Leadtek chose to call this card Revision B rather than giving the card a different name. In fact, the only difference on the box of Revision B cards is a sticker stating "rev B." While this may prove to be rather confusing to the consumer, it makes perfect sense from Leadtek's point of view. It is true that Leadtek did stop making Revision A of the WinFast GeForce 256 DDR and replaced it with Revision B, the fact is that many Revision A boxes and cards still remain on the market. Retailers who bought packs of Revision A in anticipation of a long product run would be left out of luck if Leadtek chose make the new card a new product. By simply tagging on "Revision B," Leadtek hopes to make both models of the card sell at the same rate due to the fact that many people mistake the difference between the two. This way, not only do retail stores not get angry at Leadtek, Leadtek also maximizes the sales of older card "Revisions." Smart marketing from the viewpoint of Leadtek (as Revision B will get press that people will associate to the whole WinFast GeForce 256 DDR card line), but the consumer is the one who could end up getting burned in the end. In this day of mail order and online purchases, it is very likely that Revision A and Revision B cards will be mistaken for one another.