Diamond Viper V330
Diamond's Viper V330 is one of a whole lot of cards that are using NVidia's new RIVA 128 chip. This chip is currently the fastest 3D chip for Direct3D applications and it offers this high performance for a relatively low price. As most RIVA 128 cards it comes with 4 MB SGRAM which cannot be upgraded.
The RIVA 128 chip is able to do video accelerating and scaling, it has an analog video input and a video output as well. These features were meant to be supported on the Viper, but there won't be a European PAL version with the video out feature for the next time, due to a flicker problem of the RIVA chip. As far as I know, NTSC versions are shipping, but there may be simular problems.
The Viper V330 is using its own special BIOS and together with the Diamond drivers it's currently the fastest Direct3D accelerator card available. The fact that the RIVA 128 is using Direct3D as its API makes Direct3D games very fast. Due to the RIVA's limitation to only 4 MB onboard memory, it can only support 3D up to a resolution of 800x600. However this should be enough for most gamers. I have seen a special version of GLQuake playing on a RIVA 128 card, but I haven't managed to test this myself yet. Systems with slower CPUs can take advantage of this card as well, it stays on top of the Direct3D performance tests.
Diamond's drivers managed to enhance the Viper's 2D performance to pretty impressive values, only under NT and true color the performance drops. Even the OpenGL performance of the Viper is fairly impressive, so that this card can be used under NT without being sluggish at all.
This fastest available Direct3D card is certainly worth a consideration for gamers with or without a 3Dfx card as well as for office users with a smaller budget and Socket 7 systems. You only have to live with a limitation to 800x600 in 3D games and the lack of 'tri-linear texture filtering'. 'Fog table' is currently not supported by the Viper V330, but the latest drivers from NVidia offer this feature already. Hence I'd expect that the next release of the Viper V330 driver will support this feature as well.
3D Image Quality
Good image quality in Motoracer, no complaints.
Final Reality Benchmark: The cross looks blocky, no tri-linear filtering. No cloud visible.