It is no secret that many view the GeForce4 Ti 4200 as a potential overclocking demon, perhaps on par with the Pentium 4-1.6A GHz processor. The similarities are quite promising, as both are lower-speed versions of extremely high-end models, which is always the first piece of the overclocking puzzle. Just as the Pentium 4-1.6A uses the same basic core as the 2.53A GHz chip, so too does the GeForce4 Ti 4200 feature the equivalent hardware to a more-powerful GeForce4 Ti 4600.
The key to success seems to reside in overall core quality and yields; if NVIDIA is rocking on the production line and only producing chips capable of Ti 4400 speeds, then your chances of a high Ti 4200 overclock just rose exponentially. This deals with potential core speed overclocking, and board quality, overall cooling and the speed of the DDR memory also comes into play when overclocking.
The first step in our VisionTek Xtasy GeForce4 Ti 4200 128-MB overclocking odyssey was to try and match the 500 MHz memory speed of the GeForce4 Ti 4200 64-MB board. The VisionTek card featured 4 ns DDR memory (which corresponds to a default 500 MHz DDR speed) and we easily reached the 500 MHz mark. Next we maintained the 500 MHz memory overclock and went for the 275 MHz core speed of the GeForce4 Ti 4400. Once again, we were able to easily attain this speed, and the HSF unit was cool to the touch.
Buoyed by these results, we continued to move the NVIDIA overclock sliders upwards, until we literally ran out of real estate. That's right, the highest clock settings (using Coolbits and the NVIDIA reference drivers) for the GeForce4 Ti 4200 128-MB is 315 MHz core and 560 MHz memory, and these were reached with relative ease and the card was ultra-stable and ran very cool. We had trouble hacking in a faster MaxClck setting (thus overriding the 315/560 MHz limits) with the latest NVIDIA 29.42 drivers, so we left the high-end overclock as is. This placed the overall speeds at between the GeForce4 Ti 4400 and 4600, or not too bad for a less-expensive GeForce4 Ti 4200, especially one with a full complement of 128-MB of card memory.
To outline the potential framerates inherent in this exceptional overclock, we are including two charts that compare the overclocked results against the standard Return to Castle Wolfenstein and 3DMark 2001SE benchmark scores, along with GeForce4 Ti 4400 and 4600 results using standard clock speeds.
The next two charts are simply a percentage breakdown of the framerate increases through overclocking. The Xtasy GeForce4 Ti 4200 128-MB not only shows an ability to scale with higher resolutions, but also places well even at lower resolutions.
* Keep in mind that these overclocking results are only indicative of a single VisionTek Xtasy GeForce4 Ti 4200 128-MB card, so your overclocking mileage may definitely vary.