NVIDIA Launches Titanium Series

Price Expectations

These are the numbers NVIDIA supplied me with. Please keep in mind that the final pricing is up to the card maker.

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Titanium CardPrice PositioningTargeted Against
GeForce3 Titanium 500$349Future ATi Radeon 8500
GeForce3 Titanium 200$199Future ATi Radeon 7500
GeForce2 Titanium$149Future ATi Radeon 7500

150 bucks for a 3D card that performs somewhere between a GeForce2 Pro and GeForce2 Ultra sounds very attractive. The 200 dollars for a GeForce3 Ti200 will ensure that Geforce3 and thus DX8-compatibility with its vertex and pixel shaders will become mainstream. NVIDIA's new top performer has not only become faster, it is also less expensive now. NVIDIA's pricing policy has clearly become very aggressive - something that we aren't used to. The market has become very tough these days and even NVIDIA has to react to it.


NVIDIA's "Titanium Launch" seems as if it was motivated by strategic considerations rather than real technical achievements. Especially compared to last year's impressive launch of a very high performing GeForce2 Ultra, the performance leap seen with the new GeForce3 Ti500 doesn't come across by far as remarkable. NVIDIA is 'repainting' its proven GeForce2 and Geforce3 design in 'titanium colors', trying to reduce costs as well as price, while not really offering anything new.

What exactly have we got now with the new 'Titanium' cards?

Well, we certainly have one card that is faster than anything else before, the GeForce3 Ti500 . However, the performance advance over previous GeForce3 cards is not that substantial, mainly because the memory bandwidth was only increased by some meager 8.7 %. The core clock increase of 20% may look good, but it doesn't really result in any major performance boost. If we look back at the GeForce2 Ultra launch from last year, we remember a memory bandwidth increase of 38% and a core clock increase of 25% over GeForce2 GTS. Obviously GeForce2 Ultra marked much more of a quantum leap in terms of performance than GeForce3 Ti500 is doing today. However, GeForce3 Ti500 is still offering more performance than anybody needs right now. If you consider that and then remember the reduced price of GeForce3 Ti500, you might see it as an attractive product. Whatever the success of GeForce3 Ti500 may be, NVIDIA had to release it to make sure it will remain the 3D-performance leader by the time when ATi finally releases Radeon8500.

GeForce3 Ti200 will sell at a really attractive price point, offering the wealth of GeForce3's new DX8 features to a large audience. The performance of Ti200 may be some 5-15% lower than the 'old' GeForce3, but for the price Ti200 offers outstanding speed as well as features. It is obvious that NVIDIA is willing to push its vertex and pixel shader technology into the mass market to make sure that game developers will make more use of this technology. Once this is achieved, products without programmable T&L will look stone old. I consider Ti200 as the by far most attractive 'Titanium'-package. It's offering the best bang for the buck and it will make ATi's life a lot harder.

GeForce2 Ti is the one of the three 'Titans' that I don't really like much. Due to a low memory clock its performance is extremely close to the cheaper GeForce2 Pro cards, while it is clearly beaten by the 'old' GeForce2 Ultra, the card it is meant to replace. On the first look the $149 for GeForce2 Ti may seem attractive, but as long as you can buy GeForce2 Ultra for less than 180 bucks, you might want to consider spending the extra money for some extra 5-12 % of performance. Alternatively, you could choose a GeForce2 Pro card with 64 MB graphics memory, which will most likely sell for significantly less than GeForce2 Ti, but offer you 92-98% of its performance.

NVIDIA didn't really position GeForce2 Ti in relation to its own products, because then it would have noticed that GeForce2 Pro is dangerously close to as well as cheaper than GF2 Ti. This product is a mere answer to ATi's Radeon 7500.

Last but not least, I'd like to mention NVIDIA's freshly released DetonatorXP driver . We already had one controversy with this driver set, when an early version of it was given to the press right before ATi's pre-release of Radeon 8500. Finally the new driver is official now and its improved performance speaks for itself. Similar to the Detonator 3 release last year, NVIDIA was able to get a lot more performance out of all of its chips.

Exactly this is the catch however. Every graphics card with an NVIDIA chip that is at least less than 2 years old is able to benefit from this 'free' driver upgrade. It is not a new feature and it should not be mumbled up with new product releases. Right now NVIDIA is trying to say that the GeForce3 Ti200 would offer the same performance as 'old' GeForce3 plus new features. This is not exactly true. Only if you would run the 'old' GeForce3 with 'old' drivers, GeForce3 Ti200 would be able to reach similar scores and boast 'new' features like 3D-textures and shadow maps. As soon as you run 'old' Geforce3 with DetonatorXP drivers (which is not more than sensible), you get those 'new features' as well and the scores are clearly beating 'Ti200'. The same is valid for GeForce2 Ti and GeForce2 Ultra.

I can understand that NVIDIA wants to market at least something else besides the new pricing out of the 'Titanium' release. However, it is not quite correct to claim that the GeForce3 Titanium cards are offering any more features than 'old' GeForce3. It is also not ok to compare the performance of new and old cards by using different sets of drivers.