9500np for tweakers. Oh how I miss that card.... The 9500/9700 with the 8x1 design and 256bit memory bus really openned up a lot for developpers in more recent game design. Although neither of those alone are truly innovative, but I find the product as a whole definetly was. Of course it took a little luck in the card lottery and a minute or so to unlock that potential.
Otherwise Voodoo2 (didn't like the first) really opened up 3D gaming.
The more memorable (either good or bad) cards that I've had in my personal (non-work) computers were as follows:
Radeon 7000VE (went back the very same day in exchange for...)
Radeon 9500np (great oc'er, unlocked)
Both my GF2GTS and ti4200 died within 3 months. I hope this 8800GTS stands up to my torturing.
I would have to put the Radeon 9700 pro up high on the list for perfomance and features.
But really, when you talk all time, we have to at least think back about Hardware T&L with the original Geforce. Shoot or even before that the Rendition cards. (edit, had to look the exact model up for fun - Rendition Verite V2200). Those were big inovational moments in Graphics chips for sure.
Shoot, many here sure remember times before 3D cards. (pre voodoo) I still have the ATI Mach 64 from back in 1994 when that was ATI's top card.
Ah, my first good graphics card I thought was quite a step, Rage 3d pro with 32mb of memory. Opengl with 2d on the card as well. I remember getting 50+ fps in Quake 2 with high settings @ 1024 and being totally impressed.
I agree with G92 8800GT. Almost fastest card. Price low enough to make it available to larger percentage of users than any provious top rank card. It even costs less than a 9800 did when it was new, not even counting inflation. Was there ever a time you could get this class card for this price?
Well, according to MaximumPC, December, 2007 issue, pp. 22-42, and in considering the 100 greatest PC Innovations of all time, the 3dFX Voodoo1 was ranked #2 (1996), the #1 ranking going to the ubiquitous USB port (1996). Other video cards listed were the nVida Geforce2 # 16 (2000), IBM CGA card #24 (1981), Matrox G400 Dual Head #31 (1999), ATI Radeo 9700 #48 (2002). I'm not sure I could agree with all of their selections, but definitely, the Voodoo series stood in a class by itself.
Having owned most of the cards listed in this thread, I'd have to go for a tie for #1, Voodoo1 & Voodoo 2 (which were absolutely earth-shattering at the time), the original GeForce with DDR memory tied with the 8800 GeForce series at #2, followed by the ATI 9700 Pro. All of these cards lifted the bar considerable over the previous generation of cards - none as much as the Voodoo.
In answer to the question as put i would say the 9700 pro as well. But personally i had a soft spot for the X800GT02, Damn good card for its time and a nice easy route in to modding and tweaking. You got (seemingly) something for nothing and that smug feeling because you did it yourself.
I know there have been others like the 9500 but i thought this card deserved a mention.