VGA Card Buyer's Guide 07/2003

Other Chip Companies

Right now, there are only few alternatives to ATi and NVIDIA. Although both Trident and S3 have announced new products and demonstrated prototypes, cards with their new chips are not yet available. Only SIS has had a moderate amount of success with its affordable Xabre 400 and Xabre 600 boards. Driver problems and bad texture quality have thus far hampered widespread adoption of these chips, though.

General Notes

Now that we've covered ATi's and NVIDIA's chips, we can move on to the individual cards. NVIDIA does not manufacture or sell its own cards and only produces its own boards (the reference cards) when a new chip is introduced. These are never sold in the retail channels, though.

NVIDIA leaves the sale of complete cards up to the graphics card companies, which it calls its board partners. These partners produce their own cards based on the reference design, or have third parties (or larger companies) produce their cards for them.

ATi, on the other hand, produces and sells its own cards, albeit only in North America and Canada. It leaves the Asian and European markets to its board partners, though. Its closest partner in the Asian market is Sapphire, a company that has been producing its own boards as well as ATi's for years. Even today, most of the "Built by ATi" boards hail from Sapphire's factories.

Image Quality

Aside from the 3D performance, this is indubitably one of the most important factors in choosing a graphics card. Judging image quality is far from easy, though, as newer driver releases can improve image quality - or worsen it. While FSAA performance remains largely unaffected by newer releases, this does not apply to anisotropic filtering. NVIDIA and ATi are continually working to achieve the best mixture of speed and image quality, often on a per-game basis.

To get an overview of the cards and their respective strengths and weaknesses, take a look at some of our more recent tests:

Anisotropic Quality:


Strike Force: The new ATI Radeon 9800, 9600 and 9200 Series
  1. VGA Buyer's Guide 07/2003
  2. The Price Categories
  3. An Overview Of The Cards
  4. ATi's Current Product Family
  5. Radeon 9600
  6. Radeon 9800
  7. NVIDIA's Current Product Family
  8. GeForceFX 5600
  9. GeForceFX 5900
  10. Other Chip Companies
  11. Notes On Our Noise Level Tests
  12. Benchmarks
  13. UT2003
  14. UT2003 4xFSAA & 8x Aniso
  15. Quake 3 Team Arena
  16. Quake 3 Team Arena 4xFSAA & 8x Aniso
  17. Gunmetal 4xFSAA
  18. ABIT
  19. ABIT Siluro FX 5600 Ultra DT, Continued
  20. ASUS
  21. ASUS V9520/TD, Continued
  22. ASUS V9560 Video Suite
  23. ASUS V9560 Video Suite, Continued
  24. Performance
  25. ASUS V9950
  26. ASUS V9950, Continued
  27. BFG Technology
  28. BFG Asylum GeForceFX 5600 256 MB AGP, Continued
  29. Performance
  30. Gainward
  31. Gainward FX PowerPack! Pro/760XP 128 MB Golden Sample, Continued
  32. Performance
  33. Gainward FX PowerPack! Ultra/760XP 128 MB Golden Sample
  34. Gainward FX PowerPack! Ultra/760XP 128 MB Golden Sample, Continued
  35. Performance
  36. Gainward FX PowerPack! Ultra/1200XP 128 MB Golden Sample
  37. Gainward FX PowerPack! Ultra/1200XP 128 MB Golden Sample, Contined
  38. Performance
  39. Gigabyte
  40. Gigabyte Radeon 9800 PRO 128 MB (GV-R98P128D), Continued
  41. Gigabyte Radeon 9800 PRO 256 MB (GV-R98P256D)
  42. Gigabyte Radeon 9800 PRO 256 MB (GV-R98P256D), Continued
  43. Inno3D
  44. Inno3D Tornado GeForceFX 5200, Continued
  45. Inno3D Tornado GeForceFX 5600
  46. Inno3D Tornado GeForceFX 5600, Continued
  47. Inno3D Tornado GeForceFX 5800
  48. Inno3D Tornado GeForceFX 5800, Continued
  49. Leadtek
  50. Leadtek WinFast A340 TDH, Continued
  51. Leadtek WinFast A340 Ultra TD MyVIVO
  52. Leadtek WinFast A340 Ultra TD MyVIVO, Continued
  53. Leadtek WinFast A310 Ultra TD MyVIVO
  54. Leadtek WinFast A310 Ultra TD MyVIVO, Continued
  55. Leadtek WinFast A300 TD MyVIVO
  56. Leadtek WinFast A300 TD MyVIVO, Continued
  57. Leadtek WinFast A300 TD MyVIVO, Continued
  58. Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO
  59. Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO, Continued
  60. Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO, Continued
  61. Leadtek WinFast A350 TD MyVIVO
  62. Leadtek WinFast A350 TD MyVIVO, Continued
  63. Leadtek WinFast A350 TD MyVIVO, Continued
  64. MSI
  65. MSI FX5200-VTD128, Continued
  66. MSI FX5200-VTD128, Continued
  67. MSI FX5200-TDR128
  68. MSI FX5200-TDR128, Continued
  69. MSI FX5200U-TD128
  70. MSI FX5200U-TD128, Continued
  71. MSI FX5600-VTDR128 [Editor's Choice]
  72. MSI FX5600-VTDR128 [Editor's Choice], Continued
  73. MSI FX5600-VTDR128 [Editor's Choice], Continued
  74. MSI FX5900-TD128
  75. MSI FX5900-TD128, Continued
  76. MSI FX5900-TD128, Continued
  77. PixelView
  78. PixelView GeForceFX 5600, Continued
  79. Performance
  80. PowerColor
  81. PowerColor Radeon 9800 PRO, Continued
  82. Sparkle
  83. Sparkle GeForceFX 5600 (SP8831DV/ 128 MB DDR), Continued
  84. Tyan
  85. Tyan Tachyon G9600 PRO, Continued
  86. Conclusion
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