CNET Lab's performance tests show that the $400 Verto, with its GeForce4 Ti 4600 chipset and 128MB of DDR SDRAM, is well equipped to perform. The higher resolutions of Quake III challenge the memory bandwidth of graphics cards, and this is where Nvidia's optimizations of the GeForce4's memory architecture make a difference. The PNY Verto board is consistently faster than its competitors and attains its greatest leads at the highest resolutions. On the Quake III and 3Dmark2001 Pro tests (at 1,600x1,200 resolution), the Verto is on average 30 percent faster than its closest competitor, the VisionTek Xtasy 6964 GeForce3 Ti 500. In the 3D WinBench 2000 test, the gap closes a little to about 17.5 percent. The Verto scored nearly identically to our Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600 reference card.
The PNY Verto is compatible with all versions of Windows from 95 onward, and installing the card was no problem, thanks to its straightforward instruction booklet. The guide shows clearly how to differentiate AGP from PCI and ISA slots, so users should have no problem with initial setup. However, taking advantage of some of the custom GeForce4 features may be a challenge. The user guide was written for the GeForce3 cards (as is clearly stated within), and we uncovered discrepancies between the utility software described in the booklet and what's actually included with the card. For example, features such as Adjust Z-Buffer Depth or Enable Alternate Depth are mentioned in the booklet but can't be found in the software. Others, such as Anisotropic Filtering, Video Mirror, and Desktop Manager, get no ink but are viable elements of the software. Although PNY representatives said they now have updated documentation, they couldn't confirm that updated user guides will be included with all shipping cards.
Few extras are included with the bare-bones PNY Verto. Aside from the drivers and Direct X 8.1, Star Wars Starfighter is the only additional piece of software included with the card. While Starfighter is fun, it doesn't come anywhere near showing what this card is capable of. The Verto also includes the standard VGA, DVI, and TV-out ports, and it has multimontior capabilities. But if you want to hook up another monitor, you'll have to shell out for the cables and/or the DVI-to-VGA converter.
This card's support is not to be sniffed at. PNY backs the Verto better than most companies, with a lifetime replacement warranty and toll-free technical support Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET. The PNY Web site contains useful FAQs, drivers, and product manuals.
Should you upgrade?
The PNY Verto GeForce4 Ti 4600 is the fastest card we've seen to date. But whether you should buy it depends on which card you have in your system right now. At $350 to $400, a GeForce4 card is a big investment, especially if you spent a similar amount on a GeForce3 within the last year. While the performance gains are significant, they simply aren't enough to justify buying the card; instead, you might want to wait and see what Nvidia has coming up next. If you own a GeForce2 (or lesser) card, however, then it makes sense to invest in a GeForce4. It would be huge leap compared to what you're used to now, and you'd be able to play those new vertex/pixel-shader-enhanced games the way they were intended.
|Quake III Arena test|
Frames per second; longer bars indicate better performance
|3D test: MadOnion.com's 3DMark 2001 Pro|
Longer bars indicate better performance
|3D test: eTesting Labs' 3D WinBench 2000 1.1|
Longer bars indicate better performance
|eTesting Labs' Business Graphics WinMark 99 2.0 test|
32-bit color, 1,024x768; longer bars indicate better performance
|The PNY Verto is the clear leader among current graphics cards. It consistently beats even its closest competitor, the VisionTek Xtasy 6964, which is based on the GeForce3 Ti 500 architecture. The PNY scored nearly identically to our Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600 reference card, so we did not include the reference board in the chart.|