The necessity of a 3D graphics accelerator in today's world cannot be denied. We are constantly surrounded by 3D graphics, be if from games or from applications. In addition, the demand that a computer places on the video card seems to be upped with every new game or 3D modeling application released. What this means for consumers is that upgrading is not only suggested -- it is almost mandatory. This produces a problem: purchasing a 3D graphics card in today's market proves to be a mind boggling experience. Companies are at battle with one another to prove to you, the consumer, that one specific card is better than another. Some advertise additional features, while others present their low price. The truth of the matter is that there seems to be one constant in this world of chaos; that constant is the GeForce processor by NVIDIA.

Things did not always use to be this way. Looking back, it was not until the advent of the 486 processor that video acceleration really began take off. Before this, cards were rated on their ability to display simple text and graphics. This, in fact, proved to be the driving force in the graphics card industry until video games and graphic design took a quantum leap with the advent of GL Quake, a major advancement in game play. Since this time, the battle of video cards has been based on 3D quality and speed, features which former titan 3dfx excelled at. The original Voodoo graphics accelerator provided an entrance into a market that 3dfx would see grow exponentially for years to come. It seemed, however, that, after a while, 3dfx lost its drive. Products were coming at a slower rate than consumers, as well as developers, wanted. As a result, the market took a shift that allowed for other 3D chip developers to enter the scene forcefully. Companies such as ATI, Matrox, and NVIDIA, all made products in the past, but their sales were dwarfed by the behemoth 3dfx. It was with this technology lag on the part of 3dfx that NVIDIA was able to step up and take over the spot as king of the 3D graphics accelerator market.

As is typical of the current title holder, NVIDIA recently released two new processors to step up 3D gaming another notch. Those processors were the GeForce SDR (for lower end high performance) and GeForce DDR (for the highest performance). Due to the decline of 3dfx and the lack of originality in other manufacturer's products, the GeForce processor remains the chip to beat when it comes to 3D graphics. ATI's Rage Fury MAXX is often times passed by due to lag concerns and high prices. Matrox, while performing best on the 2D front, is often bypassed due to the fact that their top card, the G400, has been out for almost a year. Thus, to the user, the GeForce GPU, or graphics processing unit, is the product to own.

Therefore, the problem for the consumer is not which processor to buy, but which manufacturer to buy it from. Unlike the competition, NVIDIA does not make the boards that the processors sit on. Instead, NVIDIA finds it more profitable to sell the processors to individual card manufactories and have them battle it out for the top spot. This is where the problem for the consumer lies: given that all use the same processor, which card is best. It is in this roundup that we attempt to guide you, the consumer, along in purchasing the best of the DDR GeForce cards on the market. By evaluating price, overclockability, drivers and support, and software bundles, AnandTech has done the hard work in order to find out which DDR GeForce card is right for for you.

The GPU
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