Tom's Take On NVIDIA's New GeForce2 GTS


Hi reader!! Let me first congratulate you for making it onto this page. This is the longest review I have ever written and I am scared that only few might make it to the end of it.

GeForce2 GTS has left a mixed kind of impression on me. On the one hand, it's clearly the fastest 3D chip out there right now and it will remain for quite a while. Buying 3D cards with GeForce2 won't be a mistake. It's got all that you need, high pixel and texel fill rate, integrated T&L, the fancy shading engine, HDTV support (which I did not even mention in the review to keep it from becoming my new book), .... However, if you are the owner of a GeForce card, don't start scraping all your money together so that you can afford the $300-350 for a 32 MB GeForce2 GTS card. The benchmark results showed you how few applications offer a meaningful improvement from switching from GeForce to GeForce2 GTS.

Let's have a look at the competition. Both ATi's upcoming Radeon256 and 3dfx's Voodoo5 5500 have already lost against GeForce2 GTS on paper. We have learned that what still counts is fill rate. Only a card that can top GeForce2's 800 Mpixels/s will be able to outperform it at 16-bit color. The story looks a lot different at 32-bit color though. NVIDIA can jump through hoops but I will never believe that GeForce2 GTS has even got 400 Mpixels/s fill rate at 32-bit color, simply because the memory bandwidth doesn't seem to be good enough for that. Here is where ATi has got a chance to beat GeForce2 and that could turn out to be very embarrassing for NVIDIA, because 32-bit color is what people want today. 3dfx has got a chance as well. If the Voodoo5 6000 should ever become reality, which I still doubt, then GeForce2 would have been beaten, however for double its price. At the same time 3dfx has to hope that there won't be any cool T&L-titles coming up. The NV15-level has shown how badly a card without integrated T&L performs at such levels. If 3dfx has got a prototype of the V5 6000 they should run this NV15 level on it. If the frame rate stays under 30 fps I'd recommend that they never release V5 6000 in the first place and finally get a move on developing integrated T&L. It's hard to believe, but I would miss 3dfx if they should be forced to leave the PC 3D scene.

I personally can't really develop any strong craving towards GeForce2 GTS. It's the fastest 3D chip out there and the fill rate of 800 Mpixels/s is definitely impressive as much as all those funky features. However, I am still very happy with my GeForce and I am extremely disappointed with GeForce2's memory bandwidth problem. I consider the very respectable 57.2 fps in Quake 3 Arena at 1600x12000 and 16-bit color as the one and only benchmark highlight.

Do I recommend GeForce2 GTS? Well, if you are not afraid of spending big bucks for a card with this chip, you should go ahead and buy it. The card won't disappoint you. GeForce owners should take it easy and hold on to their card for the time being. People on a budget with strong cravings for T&L and a good card behind it should go for GeForce cards, which should drop in price within the next days and weeks. I can't help it, but I don't see GeForce2 GTS as a must-buy right now. Let's hope that there will be a version with faster memory out soon.