10/10/2016 Visiontek Geforce 3 - Video Card Review

The fine folks at VisionTek have supplied us with their brand-spanking new GeForce3 card today. The GeForce3 really needs no introduction, as I'm sure by now most of you have read the numerous reviews already on the web. However, for those of you who may have been locked up in a cave somewhere for the past month or two, let me give you a quick run-down of what Nvidia's latest creation brings to the world of computer gaming...

GeForce3 Features:
  • Third Generation nfiniteFX Engine For Full Programmability
  • 7.36GB/sec memory bandwidth
  • 350MHz Ramdac
  • Lightspeed Memory Architecture
  • Surface Engine For High-Order Surfaces And Patches
  • Programmable Vertex Shader
  • Programmmable Pixel Shader
  • High Resolution Antialiasing - Featuring Quinucnx FSAA
  • Environmental Bump-mapping
  • Integrated Hardware Transform Engine
  • Integrated Hardware Lighting Engine
  • DirectX And S3TC Texture Compression
  • Dual Cube Environment Mapping Capability
  • Hardware-accelerated Real Time Shadows
Board Design/Layout:

VisionTek chose to strictly follow Nvidia's reference design. This isn't too surprising really, as VisionTek's goal was to get the first GeForce3 card out into the retail market. By following the reference design, or check out these updated drivers:Teredo Tunneling pseudo interface,Microsoft Teredo Tunneling adapter,Microsoft virtual wifi miniport adapter,microsoft teredo tunneling adapterthey are able to get their product out into the market sooner and save on manufacturing costs, which leads to a cheaper price tag of all of us hardcore gamers. The core is covered by the stock 50mm fan, which should keep it purring along at reasonable temps. The EliteMT 3.8ns DDR modules are keep cool by Nvidia's trademark lime green heatsinks. The card also comes with standard TV-Out, nothing spectacular but should suit most users well enough. Every GeForce3 card off the assembly line is inspected, tested, and initialed by a VisionTek employee. Kudos to them for assuring that your card will come to you in perfect working condition.

In the box you'll find a colorful and well-detailed instruction manual, along with the installation CD. No game demos are included which is fine by me, as they add to the final retail price of the card and are usually just left to collect dust on my desk anyway.

Now that we've seen how this baby looks, it's time to find out how well it performs!

Test System Setup:
  • 1Ghz T-Bird @ 1,096Mhz (8.0x133)
  • Abit KT7A-RAID
  • 512mb PC133
  • 4x30gb IBM Deskstars
  • SB Live! 5.0
  • 3Com NIC
  • Windows ME
  • Det 12.00 - WHQL
Benchmarks:
  • 3DMark2000
  • 3DMark2001
  • Quake3 Arena Demo001 (HQ, everything else default)
  • Quaver Demo
  • Vulpine GLMark (1024x768)
*Note: All benchmarks were run overclocked at 230core/500mem.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to obtain any GeForce2 Ultra scores to compare with. I was pleased to see that the decrease in performance from 16bit to 32bit under no FSAA was only about 3%. However, 3DMark measures potential more than real-world performance. Let's see if the trend continues in Quake3. Quake3 Arena Demo001

Even at 1600x1200 performance never fell under 83fps with no FSAA enabled. Needless to say, I was very impressed. As expected, with Quincunx enabled, we see performance fall slightly behind that of 2X FSAA, as visual quality between the two is very similar. Quaver Demo

The Quaver demo shows the same trend. Even with Quincunx enabled, the game remains quite playable up to 1152x864.

Vulpine GLMark is a great OpenGL-based benchmark program. It is designed specifically to take advantage of GeForce3 features, such as vertex/pixel shading and environmental bump-mapping. At 1024x768 under Quincunx average fps drops roughly 36% from 69.5 to 44.5, still these scores are impressive nonetheless.

Conclusion:

With the advent of the GeForce3, Nvidia chose to focus not only on increasing performance for current games, but also on implementing new features that will provide awesome performance for games well into the future. The most notable advancements were the full support for DirectX 8.0, support for environmental bump-mapping, and impressive FSAA performance. Even with these advancements, those of you looking to upgrade your video card may still want to hold off on the GeForce3 a while longer. Many DirectX8.0 compatible games won't be released until later this year. By then, prices will have fallen enough to put the GF3 at a more affordable level. However, if you are one of those people who must have the highest performing card on the market, rest assured that you won't be disappointed!

Pro's: Con's
  • Incredible 32bit performance
  • Environmental Bump-mapping
  • Microsoft? DirectX? 8.0 Compatibility
  • Good performance under Quincunx FSAA
  • Serious bragging rights!
Still a bit on the expensive side OVERALL SCORE: 95%
Final Thoughts: The GeForce3 is easily the best video card on the market, but I would wait until the price comes down and more GF3 optimized games are released before buying one.

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