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Leadtek WinFast GeForce 256 DDR review:

Leadtek WinFast GeForce 256 DDR

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The Good Excellent overall performance; affordable; useful graphics utilities and overclocking feature.

The Bad Very basic documentation; limited software.

The Bottom Line If you crave no-frills speed, the WinFast GeForce 256 DDR is your ticket.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall

Review Sections

If you're shopping for a no-nonsense graphics card outfitted with fast and furious double data-rate (DDR) memory, you could do a lot worse than the Leadtek WinFast GeForce 256 DDR. It may not have the slickest name or packaging, but this board delivers what gamers really want: breakneck performance. For those who need whip-fast 3D graphics and can't be bothered with a load of unwanted features, the WinFast GeForce 256 DDR is a terrific choice. If you're shopping for a no-nonsense graphics card outfitted with fast and furious double data-rate (DDR) memory, you could do a lot worse than the Leadtek WinFast GeForce 256 DDR. It may not have the slickest name or packaging, but this board delivers what gamers really want: breakneck performance. For those who need whip-fast 3D graphics and can't be bothered with a load of unwanted features, the WinFast GeForce 256 DDR is a terrific choice.

Speed First, Last, and Always
Leadtek has earned a reputation for delivering competent and reliable products in plain brown wrappers, and the WinFast GeForce 256 DDR runs true to form. The no-frills card layout seems straight from Nvidia's reference board design, and the manual looks like it was copied on the office Xerox machine. But the WinFast does what it promises: It speeds graphics performance. In fact, in the 2D graphics realm, the board scored an impressive 183 on CNET Labs' tests, faster than any GeForce 256-based board we've examined. Nearly as impressive, 3D performance pushed out 76.6 frames per second in Quake III Arena at 1,024-by-768-pixel resolution.

Granted, you'll pay a price for this performance. At $275, the WinFast GeForce 256 DDR is about $75 more expensive than similar boards based on the same chip and slower SDR SDRAM. While the board does include a video-out port for piping PC graphics output to a TV or VCR, you won't find any free game titles. There is, however, DVD player software, which taps into the video-acceleration features of the GeForce 256 chip to enable playback of DVD video, including feature-length movies.

Feature Underkill
Like many other boards, the WinFast GeForce 256 DDR includes useful utilities, such as a Windows Taskbar-based applet for switching resolutions, tweaking graphics settings, and optimizing performance. Users install the card drivers and software from a simple HTML interface that launches when the card's CD-ROM is loaded. The software ranges from the truly useful (two-click resolution switching, and SpeedRunner, an applet for overclocking chips and memory) to the downright silly (an eye-protection utility that tells you when to stop looking at the screen).

Leadtek is not a terribly well-known name in the general marketplace, but the company has won a following among hard-core gamers who value performance and reliability over luxuries. If you need a card to make quick work of next-generation 3D games, the reasonably priced WinFast GeForce 256 DDR will do the job darn well.

Leadtek's WinFast GeForce 256 DDR notched an impressive score in CNET Labs' 2D tests, the fastest of any GeForce 256-based board we've seen. It also posted a respectable score on the Quake III Arena test.

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