32 Graphic Card Meltdown - Part Two


Due to popular demand I've altered my plan to bring you the performance information on all the cards last. Part two has now changed into the hardware performance section. Due to availability changes, a couple of cards were taken out of the review and a two were added on. I will update the driver screenshots for the added cards as soon as possible. The last part will now be the hardware/software accessories section. I think everyone will be happier this way since I will now have more time to review the variety of featured hardware/software accessories that all these cards have. I will try to cover a few added topics in part 3 that you, the readers, have brought to my attention. Enough talk about the changes and onto the review :).

Before I get into my analysis I want to clarify a problem that I run into when we do a performance comparison. Not everyone has the exact same needs. I have set minimum criteria for performance on this particular review and I will stand by it when I start to critique cards. You might have a different opinion on this and that is perfectly fine if it suits YOUR needs! Make sure to keep this in mind throughout this review. My rule of thumb currently for hardware performance is 30 FPS on average at 1024x768x16. This is a performance level that I think most of you would expect from a card that you would buy now, if not more.

While the benchmarks were being run, I was already starting to see things I really disliked and felt were unacceptable. Some of the cards had visual defects or didn't run every test without crashing. Below each of the performance charts I will explain any visual defects or failures to run the test. It seemed that most of the problems were limitations of the given chipset driver or the card frame buffer size. I also experienced poor visual quality on quite a few of the tests, which bothered me. I expected this problem to happen when testing the OpenGL ICD benchmarks but not the DirectX tests. I will also note when I saw these issues.

Test Configuration

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Hardware InformationHeader Cell - Column 1
Motherboard(BIOS rev.)ABIT BX6 2.0(BIOS date 7/13/99)
Memory128 MB Viking PC100 CAS2
Hard DiskWestern Digital WDAC 4180000 EIDEDMA mode enabled
NetworkNetgear FA310TX
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Environment SettingsHeader Cell - Column 1
OSWin98 SE 4.10.2222 A
Descent III (retail version)command line: -nosound -nomusic -nonetwork -timetest secret2.dem -width xxxx -height xxxx
Expendable (demo version)Demo version. Setup - Triple buffering. Sound - disabled.
Quake 3 Test v1.08command line: +set s_initsound 0 +set cd_nocd 1
Shogo (v2.14)Advanced settings: disable sound, disable music, disble movies, disable joysticks, enable optimized surfaces, enable triple buffering, enable single-pass multi-texturing. High Details Settings = enabled
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Video Board ManufacturerDriver Version
3dfx Voodoo3 2000 ,3000 ,35004.11.01.1151
AOpen PA 30104.11.01.0208
ATI Rage128 , All-in-Wonder4.11.1.1003
CardExpert i7524.11.01.1254
CardExpert SG44.11.01.8007-8.10.10
CardExpert TNT24.11.01.0191
Creative Labs TNT2 /Ultra4.11.01.2103.03.0204
Creative Labs Savage44.10.01.2102-4.8401
Diamond Savage44.11.01.0204
Diamond TNT2 /Ultra4.11.01.0402
ELSA TNT24.11.01.0200-0022
ELSA Savage44.11.01.0303-0001
Gigabyte GA 6604.11.01.0208
Guillemot Xentor324.11.01.0208
Hercules TNT2 /Ultra4.11.01.0208
Matrox G400 /MAX4.11.01.2110
Microstar MS 88064.11.01.0208
Number Nine SR94.11.01.9550
PowerColor Savage44.11.01.8003-8.03.03
PowerColor TNT24.11.01.0188
Skywell TNT24.11.01.0208