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Review AGP Graphic Cards

Review AGP Graphic Cards
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The first motherboards with AGP support are shipping now for a little while and if you want to take real advantage of them you won't waste the AGP slot. This review shall give you some ideas which AGP graphic card you should look out for.

AGP is still in its first shoes so that you won't find much of an improve in performance over PCI graphic cards, a little improve in normal real world is noticeable though and upcoming games that will take advantage of large textures will certainly make you benefit from your choice of an AGP card.

The reviewed graphic cards are still very young and the drivers for these cards are still under development. Nevertheless are these cards either already available or will be very soon, so that there's certainly a point in testing them already now. However there might be performance improvements of these cards with future drivers or chip revisions.

Sadly Missed

Matrox seems only just to get ready with their Millennium 2 AGP card and I hope I will be able to include this successor of the immensely successful Millennium in this test soon. Many people including myself are very disappointed from the Millennium 2, since it only offers a slight improvement in 2D over the Millennium and the added 3D features are just as little as the ones of the well known Mystique. The most important 3D features like 'linear filtering', 'mipmapping' and 'dithering' are not supported by the Millennium 2, which gives you a very poor 3D picture quality.

Rendition's new chip 'Verite 2200' is supposed to be very fast, but so far there doesn't seem any AGP card out with it. Hopefully Rendition will contact me to get me an AGP card with the Verite 2200 soon.

Reviews

All cards had to stand up against the very fast and successful combination of the Matrox Millennium teamed up with the Diamond Monster 3D, both PCI cards. You may remember that this was my recommendation for the whole last year and it was never really topped by any other 2D or 3D card. The Millennium is well known for an excellent 2D performance under Windows 95 as well as under Windows NT. The 3D performance of the Millennium is very poor though, since it hardly supports any important 3D features. For this job the Monster 3D or any other 3Dfx Voodoo chip using card comes in, which gives you an excellent 3D performance in combination with great picture quality. Except of 'For Vertex and Color Key Transparency' and 'Fog Vertex and Alpha Transparency' it supports all 3D features tested by 3D Winbench. The only let down of the 3Dfx Voodoo chip is the inability to render in a window, but which gamer really cares ... you can only play one 3D game at a time anyhow. New cards with the later 3Dfx Voodoo Rush chip can run 3D applications in a window as well, the Hercules Stingray 128/3D is one of them. There's one other problem of the 3Dfx Voodoo cards, which is based on its memory. The most cards are using 4 MB EDO RAM, 2 MB for frame- and Z-buffering, 2 MB for textures. This limits these cards to a maximum screen resolution of only 640x480 pixels (600 kB front buffer +600 kB back buffer+ 600 kB Z-buffer = 1800 kB, all buffers 16 bit deep). The new 3D cards reviewed below are able to run 3D applications at higher screen resolutions.

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