My uber-shiny, uber-expensive video card died today. May it rest in peace. The card in question is a Leadtek A250TD Ultra, more commonly known as Leadtek’s take on the GeForce4 Ti-4600 architecture, and saying I had a love-hate relationship with that card would be right on the money. On the upside, it has pretty solid software, and there’s no debate that it pushes pixels like nothing else. On the downside, it’s bugged me in one way or another almost since I bought it. The two little fans that cool the card are whiny. The card is monstrous - I don’t exaggerate when I say I had to buy a deeper case to accommodate it. Would I buy it again? No. Would I rather have had the GF4-Ti4400-based Asus I had my eye on? Yes. But do I want it back? YES!! Come back soon, little video card. I miss you.
This isn’t really a review… it just sort of turned into one. Seeing as I’ve had the Leadtek since late last year, you’d think I’d be able to review it by now. As I mentioned before, there’s a lot to hate about this video card. It is quite possibly the biggest graphics card in the history of the known universe. It’s longer than my motherboard is wide, and I think the heatsink is tall enough to violate the PCI specifications. The cooling is another severe pain in the rear. It’s extreme cooling for an extreme card - two 40mm fans are built into the heatsink. These fans are small, and they run fast - which makes them whiny in the extreme. If you’re braver than me, you might want to consider removing the heatsink and replacing it with something more sane… and if you were to do that, the rewards would be great. Underneath the ugly physical side, the Leadtek is a blindingly good card. Its VIVO (video-in-video-out) circuitry gives impeccably good results - I’ve taken to using it to hook my PS2 up to my monitor. The software is reliable, and it works perfectly with the NVidia Detonator drivers. The performance doesn’t leave a lot to be desired. I’ve never had a problem with it in Unreal Tournament 2003, Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City, and Quake 3 - except that I’m only running a P3-933, and I don’t want to upgrade that just yet (I’m waiting for the Prescott P4-s to hit the market). My overall take on it is pretty much summed up in the entry above. It doesn’t help that the video card I’m using at the moment is a 4-megabyte Trident card of unknown provenance that doesn’t even have a heatsink. I’m tempted to try running UT2003, just to watch the Trident card gibber and curl up in a corner of my case. Expect a review of my stopgap video card soon - just so I can tear strips off it for being so utterly crap.