nVIDIA brings out the latest in pixels and polygons. Is it worth the price?

nVIDIA GeForce2 GTS
Alan Bryer

15/6/2000





Graphics cards come and go, and at the moment there are only two in the running, those being Nvidia with its 2GTS GPU (GTS = GigaTexel Shading), and 3dfx with its Voodoo5 series. At present there is only one winning this war and that's Nvidia. The chip is far superior to the 3dfx chip (not to take anything away from the Voodoo cards; they're excellent but who wants 128MB RAM and quad processor). It is the first card to offer per pixel shading, which in short means that each pixel on your screen is now able to be shaded instead of having xx amount of pixels shaded in a block. This allows for far more realism to the rendered images on your screen.


For us, the consumer, feature-rich graphics cards are what we want, and the GeForce2 GTS has everything that you could ask for. The most important thing to the games-playing Entertainment World is polygons. It is all we care about - how much detail we can get onscreen.


To make a character look real, you need to put a lot of polygons into the skin so you can make the skin look like it is deforming as muscles bulge under it. In video games today, everyone is a mannequin with rotating joints. In the future - as in real life - when you move your hands or make a fist, it stretches the muscles. That is something that Nvidia has invested in and it does work, so now we have the hardware to let it be seen onscreen. Let's see if the software developers can impress us with their skills and use this card to its full and untapped potential.


In the yellow column to the right are the specs of the GeForce2 GTS. Hopefully by now you're interested? Keep reading . . .

One of the benefits of this card is that it is able to offload graphics-intensive workload from the CPU and puts it on a faster, graphics-specific GPU. This provides for a powerful, balanced platform that enables extremely high-polygon count scenes to be rendered at speeds greater than 25 million polygons per second.
There have been reported problems with Nvidia's first GeForce card and certain Athlon CPU/motherboard combos, but so far I haven't come across any for the 2GTS.


Overall, the card gives hi-res pin-sharp images on your screen and high frame rates within the popular games on the market: Q3, UT, SOF, etc.



Quake 3 Arena FSAA Comparison:

640 x 480 no FSAA = 89fps
640 x 480 = 79fps
800 x 600 no FSAA = 90fps
800 x 600 = 57fps
1024 x 768 no FSAA = 72fps
1024 x 768 = 31fps

As you can see, these are very impressive benchmarks for a graphics card. Around the corner there are going to be Bigger, Better, Faster cards but for now we have GeForce2 GTS from Nvidia, and I for one am very impressed. I would recommend this card for anyone wishing to get the most out of their machine - as long as your pockets are deep enough. It deserves 4½ stars. I would have given it 5 but for the price.



Current Price (15/6/00):
Around £220-230 + VAT for the 32MB AGP version.

Features:

  • Fill Rate: 1.6 GigaTexel shading
  • Transformation & Lighting: 25 million triangles/sec
  • Clock speed: 200mhz
  • Memory type: 32-64MB 166MHz ddr
  • Memory Bandwidth: 5.3GB/sec
  • Pipelines: 4 pipelines x 2 texels/pipeline
  • No of chips: 1
  • Transistor size: 0.18 micron
  • FSAA, Motion blur etc: FSAA supported
  • Per Pixel Shading: Yes
  • Keyframe Interpolation: No
  • Vertex Skinning: 2-matrix

Romulus 2 Rating:

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