New Contenders - Absolute Multimedia GeForce2 GTS
The first of our two newly added contestants is the GF2 from Absolute Multimedia (AMM). You'll quickly notice that this bad boy has heat sinks on the front and back to compensate for the added heat generated in overclocked conditions. Although this may seem to be a great idea, we've seen that heat isn't necessarily the issue (as observed in the Prophet II review ) when it comes to squeezing the last drop of performance from the memory. It can't hurt to have the added cooling but the limitation of the AMM GF2's 6ns memory is the biggest problem here. The best choice to solve this issue would be to use faster memory but that would equate to a huge cost trade-off that most people won't probably care for.
As far as cooling the core, a decent solution is used (similar to that found on the Asus AGP-V7700) to keep the 200 MHz core speed under control. As we've seen in Tom's exploration into overclocking the Gainward CARDExpert GeForce2 at extreme levels, the 200 MHz GF2 core speed is just fine but is rather limited by the inadequate memory performance at 333 MHz. It won't hurt to have a decent cooling solution to keep things stable however, so there isn't anything to complain about here.
The AMM GF2 box stays pretty basic as it ships with its simple instructions, driver, demo software and Soft DVD player (Intervideo). It also comes with the "Software-Choice" package that allows you to send away for free software. The number you can choose from depends on the titles you're interested in. I'm not a very big fan of any type of bundled game software but this type of offering is probably the most appealing since up-to-date titles are among the choices.
There was one very odd thing I discovered during my driver install that I felt was counter intuitive. AMM decided to make a video to help users during the install but what I think they failed to realize is that most people install their board then go onward to reading CD documentation. By the time someone swaps cards, they'll end up being unable to watch a video in basic VGA mode. Most users attempting this install won't need the video but if they did, they just might end up in a rut during the install because of this. My vote would be for better paper documentation like that found in the Asus, Creative and Leadtek offerings.
After the release of previous AMM reviews many readers had problems tracking down shops in the US that carried these products but that shouldn't be an issue by the time their GF2 begin shipping as they plan to have product in popular stores within the next few weeks as well as on their website.
New Contenders - Creative Labs Annihilator 2
When the GF2 initially made its way onto shelves, I was a bit shocked that Creative wasn't one of the first companies to release their product like we've come to expect. The board did eventually make its way out however, and although I didn't notice any huge design changes, it was released at a very aggressive price.
The board itself follows the reference design for the most part and looks very similar to the Annihilator Pro. The board is equipped with 6ns memory and is clocked at the standard core and memory reference speeds.
The package comes with above average installation material, Creative Blaster Control drivers, a few visual enhancement utilities, NVIDIA demos, and some other minor applications. The setup is very basic but the basics were there are I'm sure the novices out there would appreciated the printed installation manuals provided with the board.