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Neighborhood Watch: How To Spot A GeForce3

Win, Lose or Ti: 21 GeForce Titanium Boards
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GeForce3 cards look very similar. So similar, in fact, that only an expert would be able to tell a Ti200 from a Ti500 or an "old" GeForce3. The memory is often covered by heatsinks, making a visual identification impossible, and even the designations found on the GPU are far from clear.

This makes telling the different models apart by visual inspection very difficult, since even the PCB designs can vary. You might find a Ti200 chip on an old GF3 PCB, and there have even been some sightings of such on Ti500 boards.

In 90% of the cases, there will be some way of telling the cards apart. When unsure about a card, the best thing to do is take a closer look at the board, itself.

Let's take the Hercules 3D Prophet family as an example:

On the GeForce3, the clock generator sits at the edge of the card. The power supply, consisting of two (open or closed) coils, is located on the upper side of the card.

This is the typical new Ti200 layout, with the large capacitors on the right-hand side. The clock generator is no longer on the edge of the board. Many Ti200 boards are also based on the old GeForce3 reference layout.

The layout of the Ti500 uses only one component on the upper part of the board, and the clock generator has also been moved away from the edge.

Of course, these are only general pointers, and should by no means be considered canon, but they do help you identify most of the boards available in stores today. Identifying a board is much easier during operation. This can be very helpful if the salesperson at your local computer store agrees to install the card into a computer if you are unsure about it. During boot-up, press the pause key when the monitor displays the PCI devices.

Each chip has its own PCI device ID:

  • GeForce2 Pro: 0150
  • GeForce2 Ti: 0151
  • GeForce3: 0200
  • GeForce3 Ti200: 0201
  • GeForce3 Ti500: 0202

These individual characteristics should help you to tell the models apart, hopefully preventing any potential problems when buying a card. On the other hand, for someone with enough criminal motivation, re-branding a Ti200 to appear as a Ti500 would likely be no problem at all, either...

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