Professional Affair: OpenGL Graphics Cards Compete

Pros And Cons

The following table shows a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of the tested cards.

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3Dlabs Oxygen GVX1* Connector for DFP flat panels and stereo goggles* Average performance* Athlon driver needs to be improvedDTP, Digital Content Creation, CAD, CAM
3Dlabs Oxygen GVX210* Connectors for second VGA monitor* Good to very good performance on Pentium III platforms* With 2000 Dollars a poor price/performance ratio* Athlon driver needs to be improvedDTP, Digital Content Creation, CAD, CAM, Simulations
Diamond Fire GL 1 Pro* Very good price/performance ratio for CAD/CAM users (Solidworks, Autocad and similar programs)* No geometry chip; therefore not enough performance for displaying models with complex texturesDTP, CAD, CAM
Evans & Sutherland Lightning 1200* With 399 Dollars the cheapest product of the test field* Unsatisfactory performanceDTP
Elsa Gloria II with Nvidia's Quadro-Chip* Dedicated 3D Studio Max drivers and Autocad drivers from Elsa enable very good performance* Elsa standard drivers are stable* Nvidia reference drivers offer very good performance for other applications* For all other applications the Elsa standard drivers result in unsatisfactory performance and problems with the picture quality* Nvidia reference driver is fast but unstableDTP, Digital Content Creation, CAD, CAM, Animations, Simulations

Final Thoughts: Rambus-Pentium Versus SDRAM-Athlon

This test clearly reveals better performance values for RDRAM platforms with the Pentium III. Contrary to the game PC world, the workstation segment finally gives Rambus memory the chance to show off its performance advantages propagated by Intel. In comparison to the Athlon 800 we measured better results in almost all categories at the same clock frequency under Windows NT 4.0.

Some card manufacturers seem to prefer the Pentium III for the driver development. In the application benchmarks the difference is less noticeable than in the synthetic benchmarks. We generally assign more importance to the application benchmarks because they reflect the real-life situation for the user much better. On top of that Nvidia proves that it is possible to optimize graphics card drivers for the Pentium III and Athlon equally.

One point is quite important when deciding on a platform. Workstations are generally equipped with more memory than mainstream PCs. 512 MByte are no rarity. Given today's prices, RDRAM would be much more expensive than the rest of the hardware. In this case the Rambus memory alone adds up to a whopping 5000 Dollars, five times more than PC133 SDRAM. The slight performance disadvantages of the Athlon KX133 platform can be balanced with more MHz. This would be a much wiser investment for your money.

Uwe Scheffel