NVIDIA GeForce SDR Roundup (February 00)by Matthew Witheiler on February 16, 2000 1:32 AM EST
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Shopping for a video card in today's market is like being a kid in a toy store. With glamorous boxes, expensive advertisements, and nifty features, how can one ever decide on which card to get? Is the video card that comes in the best looking package always the best performing or best suited for you? Back as little as 3 years ago, the choices on the video card market were not nearly as diverse. There were a select few companies that produced cards based upon a specific chip. Mainly, you had three options for 3D gaming: cards based off of 3dfx's Voodoo chip, those based off of NVIDIA's Riva128 chip, and ATI's 3D Rage Pro.
Needless to say, a lot has happened in 3 years. In these years we have seen the merger of 3dfx and STB, creating only one supplier for 3dfx cards, very little advance in ATI's side of the corner, and a near monopoly founded on NVIDIA. For the most part, people who want the best 3D performance disregard 3dfx's current Voodoo 3 chipset due to lack of 32-bit support. In addition, the high price and possible lag concerns deter some away from ATI's Rage Fury MAXX card. Finally, Matrox's long running G400 series has gained significant support but many are wary of spending a good amount of money on a card that is almost a year old. Disregarding the others, this leaves only one major contender in the high performance 3D graphics market: NVIDIA.
NVIDIA produces the chip with the most buzz factor on the market today: the GeForce. Rather than sell these chips to one particular manufacturer or to produce the graphics cards themselves, NVIDIA sells these chips to almost any company that can afford to buy them, meaning that almost everyone and their brother is making a GeForce card. While this provides great possible variation in the market, in reality almost all GeForce cards are the same. With this in mind, it seems that the biggest differences between GeForce based cards are cooling methods, overclocking potential, drivers and support, memory type, and software bundle: almost exactly the same set of difference that were mentioned in our NVIDIA TNT2 Roundup. In this roundup, we have attempted to collect a handful of SDR based GeForce cards (thus removing memory type from the list of differences) and point out the pros and cons of each, making your decision as a buyer less complicated.