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ULTIMATE Video Card Guide

ULTIMATE Video Card Guide - PCSTATS
Abstract: New games demand more of video cards and their memory; bigger textures, more triangles, and various other new means of hardware acceleration to look good and still run at playable speeds.
Filed under: Video Cards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Various Jul 18 2000   D. Dee  
Home > Reviews > Video Cards > Various

ATI:

ATI: ATI isn't exactly a leader in 3D, but it does have two cards worth mentioning. ATI aims their cards at the consumer, and is thus concerned with DVD performance, so if you use your system to play DVD movies all the time and are less concerned about game speed, have a look at ATI's cards.


Rage Fury MAXX: If you are a hardcore viewer of DVDs on your computer, this card might interest you, but with the advent of the GeForce2 MX there's little reason to get one of these unless it's for significantly less than $120 as its performance is similar. Also, unless they added Windows 2000 support and I didn't notice it, this card runs only in Windows 98. I think ATI is giving generous manufacturer rebates on these now, so they might be worth getting while those are in effect. Price (before rebate): $130-$150.


Radeon 256 (unreleased): If this is as good as ATI says it will be, it will be competitive with the faster GeForce2 GTS cards. Personally, I have found that ATI's cards are never as fast as they say they will be, so we'll have to wait and see some benchmarks before we know for sure. The Radeon 256 is supposed to use 200MHz DDR memory for a bandwidth of 6.4 gigabytes per second, and will have dual pixel pipelines and render three textures per pixel per pass. So, at 200MHz it'll have a theoretical fill rate of 1200 megatexels per second. Not shabby, but that's already slower than the GeForce2 GTS's theoretical 1600 megatexels per second. It'll support hardware T&L and a slew of other new stuff. ATI seems to have problems releasing this card, so it may be a while before we see it on store shelves. I've seen it available for pre-order with an expected ship date of August 1st, but I'll be surprised if it ships then. Price: <= $270 for the 32-megabyte version, < =$350 for the 64-megabyte version.


Radeon 256 MAXX (unreleased): This will be a dual-chip version of the standard Radeon 256. If it's offered at a reasonable price, and released in the not too distant future, it should be competitive with whatever else is at the top of the performance chain, given its theoretical 12.8 gigabyte per second memory throughput and 2400 megatexel per second fill rate. Price: I haven't seen any MSRP estimates, but I'll just guess $450+.

Imagination Technologies/STMicro: These guys have an upcoming card, the third-generation PowerVR-based KYRO. It uses tile-based rendering, thus avoiding unnecessary drawing of parts of a scene that won't be seen since other things are in front of them. KYRO (unreleased?): This is aimed at gamers on a budget, and its performance is respectable considering its price. Its speed relative to other cards depends on the resolution used, and the drivers were clearly immature and limiting, but overall it performed somewhere between the GeForce 256 SDR and GeForce 256 DDR. Interestingly, it renders everything in 32-bit color internally, so its 16-bit color setting looks better than other cards' 16-bit color. Not surprisingly, this incurs a performance penalty. It will support hardware FSAA, but how fast it will be is yet unknown. I haven't seen this card available anywhere yet, but hopefully it will be released soon, as its price/performance ratio compared to other cards is decreasing as other cards get cheaper. If it's not out very soon, it will be pretty much obsolete upon its debut. Price: under $200 for 32-megabyte version, a little over $200 for 64-megabyte version.

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Contents of Article: Various
 Pg 1.  ULTIMATE Video Card Guide
 Pg 2.  NVidia's chips
 Pg 3.  Diverging Paths
 Pg 4.  Present and future hardware features
 Pg 5.  More present and future hardware features
 Pg 6.  Interfaces
 Pg 7.  Keeping up
 Pg 9.  More players

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