In contrast to the AOpen card, the Leadtek looks markedly different from the reference design. Leadtekâ€™s cards tend to differ from the standard, the intention being to improve cooling performance over standard cards and to make them stand out from the crowd.
Leadtek has affixed a very large copper heatsink to the board providing better cooling performance than regular aluminium. This covers both the GPU and the memory and goes over the back of the card too. However, though the heatsink at the rear is copper coloured it is in fact just painted, hopefully just to keep the colour scheme and not to deceive buyers.
The fan assembly is unusual looking and covered with a grille. This ensures that you canâ€™t hurt yourself by putting your fingers in it while it is on, which can sometimes happen when youâ€™re opening up your case. Leadtek also claims that the fan is much more quiet than the reference unit. To be honest we didnâ€™t really notice it being much quieter than the AOpen, but it certainly wasnâ€™t noisy.
In addition the card features dual DVI ports and a TV-Out as you would expect. The game bundle is a little better than that of the AOpen with Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Gunmetal and Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. The latter is an especially fine title and at high resolution looks magnificent running on the card.
Another reason Leadtek has gone to the extra effort of creating a custom heatsink and fan is that the Winfast A400 TDH is clocked higher than standard with a 425MHz rating for the GPU, although memory speed is the same at 1,100MHz.
So does this translate to an increased performance over the AOpen? In a word yes, but the difference in most of our tests was very slight - with a lead ranging from half a frame per second to two or three. In fact Halo was unaccountably slower. In Far Cry at a resolution of 1,600 x 1,200 with no IQ settings on, the extra GPU clock seems to have enabled the Leadtek to pull away. However, as soon as FSAA and AF kick in, memory bandwidth becomes the more important factor and the lead shrinks to only 1.4fps faster, due to the memory being clocked at the same speed. The Doom3 results tell a similar story.
However, when one takes into account the AOpenâ€™s overclocking performance, the Leadtek starts to look expensive. To redress the balance we overclocked the Leadtek, reaching a GPU clock of 455MHz and a memory clock of 1,200MHz. Unfortunately though, we found the experience unpredictable, with the card running fine one day and locking up the next. However, as the card had been tested elsewhere before it arrived in the TrustedReviews offices it may have already been pushed a bit too hard before we got our hands on it, so we canâ€™t really fault Leadtek for this.
When it was stable however, the overclocked Doom3 results gave the Leadtek a slightly larger lead over the overclocked AOpen, with a 2.6fps difference.
What you have to ask yourself though is, whether this slender lead is worth the Â£40 extra over the AOpen? We donâ€™t really think so, but it depends on how important each FPS is to you. So if youâ€™re desperate for that bit of extra performance, however slight, and a better game bundle to boot, the Leadtek will fit the bill.
Thereâ€™s no getting away from the fact that Â£386.60 is a lot to spend on a graphics card but if you do stump up the cash the Leadtek wonâ€™t disappoint. The non standard heatsink and fan is effective and quiet, while reaching a core frequency of 455MHz and 1,200MHz for the memory is pretty good going. Weâ€™d donâ€™t feel itâ€™s worth the extra over the AOpen but if you feel like pushing the boat out, the Winfast A400 TDH will deliver the goods.