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Graphics Card Champs from Voodoo to 9700 PRO

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 4, 2003 7:57:52 PM

Rather than using this as an opportunity to bag on one company or another, I was thinking in terms of the graphics cards that have been released that changed the paradigm in 3D Graphics...whether it was simply a revolutionary product, or a product that ushered in a new performance champion. Rather than talk about crappy products, I think it's more interesting to talk about the winners. Here's my list...

1. Voodoo 2: Awesome. Especially the 12MB version, and even better if you could afford SLI. The first no-doubt 3D graphics Champ.

2. TNT2-Ultra 32 Meg: The second no-doubt champion. The start of 3DFX's downfall. This card was SO much better than a Voodoo 3 in practically every way.

3. GeForce: The first GPU. It was the first card that really utilized the benefits of the AGP port, and took a large load off the CPU. The GeForce 256 DDR was better, but also kicked off a new ERA of nVidia market dominance and the six month product cycle with the three month product refresh. Maybe not such a great thing in the final analysis. Still, it was a great card for its time.

4. Radeon 8500: I include this card for one reason: nVidia had been on top for a LONG time, and the 8500 was the first card that was arguably better than nVidia's reigning champ (the Ti500.) Now, the 8500 had driver issues, but the R200 showed that ATI could build a technologically superior product, and paved the way for:

5. Radeon 9700 PRO: The current reigning champ and all-time most powerful graphics card. This card firmly established ATI as the new performance champion, and nVidia is still stuggling to find itself in the wake of the damage done by the R300.

That's my short-list of champions in the short history of 3D Graphics. Agree? Disagree?


<-----Insert witty sig line here.


<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Twitch on 03/04/03 05:45 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
March 4, 2003 8:39:11 PM

ask "(non biased)" Lars what he thinks :D 
He crowned the FX the king :p 
Nvidia will be back don't worries. Besides me as a consumer needs competition.
a b U Graphics card
March 5, 2003 5:00:57 AM

I have my doubts:

1.) The VooDoo 2 was a powerfull Glide card, but the only reason it did so much better than the TNT was that...most games weren't being properly coded for D3D yet. Try running later games on both, you'll see that it wasn't that much faster once the code got worked out.

In fact, the Riva 128ZX could pretty much hold it's own next to a VooDoo1 also.

And didn't the VooDoo 2 require the use of a 2D card as well? Anyway, VooDoo2 was a SOLID product at the time, but not really revolutionary.

2.) TNT2-Utra, yes, a great card, not a revolutionary step above the TNT2 though.

3.) GeForce the first to really use the bandwidth of AGP? Have you ever compared a TNT2 AGP to a TNT2 PCI? Night and day difference. While it was a revolutionary product for it's added features, it's performance lead wasn't that great over the TNT2 Ultra (which BTW was AGP4x compatable).

4.) Hmm, I'd say the Radeon DDR was a more revolutionary product because it was the first serious attempt at 3D by ATI, and works so well, mine still powers the latest games.

5.) Totally agree on the 9700.

<font color=blue>Watts mean squat if you don't have quality!</font color=blue>
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March 5, 2003 5:16:34 AM

Hmmm...maybe it seemed more solid at the time to me...but I do remember that EVERY serious gamer had Voodoo2 SLI. And yes, you're right. The Voodoo2 needed a PCI graphics card. The Voodoo2 cards always performed much, much better with glide, but I know that RIVA and others at the time just didn't have the kind ef affect on me and others in the gaming community as the Monster II 12MB.

Remember FastUglyRefresh? Voodoo2 definitely were NOT the masters of high quality rendering. But they sure were fast in Quake2. Hehe.

Why do I remember Banshee being a piece of crap? I never owned one, but it sticks in my mind that it got horrible reviews when it came out. Wasn't it the first mainstream 2d/3d card that could handle glide?


And the TNT2 Ultra 32 I picked because it firmly put nVidia in the lead at the time. I don't think nVidia ever looked back--until now.

Radeon 8500 I picked because it gave me, personally, some hope that ATI would catch up to and even possibly surpass nVidia, since it really was superior technology. I didn't feel that way about 7500.

9700PRO I picked for obvious reasons.

I was trying to think in terms of the kind of impact they had in the marketplace--not in terms of dollars, though all the cards I listed had their success--but in terms of the winds of change.


<-----Insert witty sig line here.
March 5, 2003 3:19:59 PM

Glide really was an API that sounded optimized. The performance was just phenomenal for even dated Voodoos. I wish there were more of this. Most games had outstanding effects and yet not a single frame drop, even when I had a PCI Voodoo 3 2000.
I wonder if cards now were based on a new updated Glide and had the API still alive, would games run smoother?

--
This post is brought to you by Eden, on a Via Eden, in the garden of Eden. :smile:
March 5, 2003 3:33:13 PM

One thing I do know about Glide rendering is apps tailored to it run better with it than any other card, almost regardless the age. A Voodoo 5 will run UT in Glide mode better than a GeForce 3 Ti500 can in D3D despite the GF3 being a newer, much more advanced architecture, all other things being constant. It will render faster and will look [way] better. All else, and the newer cards will smack the Voodoo's around with a trout, but in Glide, Voodoo reigns.

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?! <--- indicates clueless excitement.
March 5, 2003 6:20:06 PM

Which makes me wonder, just why didn't nVidia try to integrated Glide as part of utilizing some 3dFX technology in their new card?!
I mean, the Cg is not gonna be so much accepted at the moment, while Glide had been known around and known to deliver performance. nVidia could've recreated a wonder, and probably pushed the market to program for it, and developpers would've definitly accepted it, knowing it provides maximum performance.

"sigh", nothing obvious is so to companies...

--
This post is brought to you by Eden, on a Via Eden, in the garden of Eden. :smile:
a b U Graphics card
March 5, 2003 6:24:47 PM

Actually the Banshee was a decent card! It was generally dispised by the VooDoo comunity because it didn't require a 2D main card and couldn't be paired with a VooDoo 2. In other words, it was too easy, not geek enough. I seem to remember it performed nearly as well as a VooDoo2. In Need for Speed II it was smoother than a TNT2!

Before they called it the 7500, the Radeon DDR used very current technology. It went head to head against the GeForce2 GTS. It lost in pure DX7, but had some early DX8 features giving it a slight advantage in newer games. It was the first time ATI produced a card that was in any way competitive to nVidia. Without the Radeon, the 8500 would have never existed.


<font color=blue>Watts mean squat if you don't have quality!</font color=blue>
March 5, 2003 6:41:59 PM

Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever played a game that felt as smooth as games I played on my Voodoo2 SLI. Yes, Glide was great. I don't know anything about it though. Why is it so much faster? Does it sacrafice detail? The reason I ask is I remember playing Half-Life on my TNT2-32, after having played it for a while on my Voodoo2, and I immediately noticed effects and colors I had never seen before. In fact, I replayed the entire single-player just to see all the stuff I had missed! Was that a Glide issue, or a Voodoo2 issue? I know Voodoo2 could not exceed 16-bit(?) colors and 8-bit textures (?)
Or do I have that reversed. ANYway...I guess what I'm asking is...would Glide be useable today? Would it have evolved into different iterations, like Direct X? Would it be an alternative to Direct X? And if it's that great, why wouldn't nVidia want to optimize for it?


<-----Insert witty sig line here.
March 6, 2003 12:38:35 AM

I honestly have no idea.
As to your detail loss, Half Life is much more OpenGL oriented, and I recall that Direct 3D ran horribly on old cards, and was poor on Voodoo. Maybe your Voodoo 2 used older technology, my Voodoo 3 2000 seemed to display all colors but simply lacked in mipmap and anisotropy.
OpenGL was not a choice, as the Voodoo 3s did not support it.

I think Glide had very nice colorful graphics mind you, try games like Carmaggedon 2!


--
This post is brought to you by Eden, on a Via Eden, in the garden of Eden. :smile:
March 6, 2003 3:31:51 AM

I should have gotten a Banshee instead of a G200 when I bought my 1998 rig, they were the same price and the Banshee had 16MB memory and GLide support. THen I could have run games like Descent 3, WHeel of Time, and maybe even Star Trek VOyager: Elite Force faster than 20 frames per second (30 for Descent 3).

I still could get a used 12MB Voodoo 2 for $25, but considering I'm getting my dad's Athlon 1200/Geforce 2 Pro rig this summer to replace my 450/G200 rig, it's not really worth it for a few games, I game on his system a lot anyway.
!