The four key components of overall system performance are the motherboard, processor, RAM and the video card.
As good as the video cards of today are, they can still be the bottleneck when used with high-end processors and RAM.
The MX video cards are very tempting.
They are excellent performers, low in price, and frequently packaged with nice software.
But it's a waste of money to get a high-end processor and not follow-up with the video card.
While a bit dated, this budget video card comparison by Anandtech illustrates how the video card can be the bottleneck in a performance system.
Computers designed with graphics capabilities in mind should have a GeForce2 GTS video card or GeForce2 Pro video card at the very least, both of which I've used in My Super PC. But it hasn't taken long for better performing video cards to come along that are now priced less that what I paid for my first video card, so today I have a GeForce3 Ti 200 video card, namely the Gainward GeForce3 PowerPack Ti/450 Golden Sample.
Gainward's "Golden Sample" variety GeForce3 Ti 200 uses high quality components that allow both the Core Clock and Memory Clock to default to higher values than the usual GeForce3 Ti 200 video card. Yet the components are of such good quality that they overclock extremely well, often approaching GeForce3 Ti 500 performance. For details, see my Build A Computer Like My Super PC - Video Card Drivers Settings page. The version of the Gainward GeForce3 PowerPack Ti/450 video card I have has 128MB DDR memory. It's also made with 64MB DDR memory.
GeForce4 Video Cards - GeForce4 Ti 4200/4400/4600, GeForce4 MX 420/440/460
The latest release from NVIDIA is the GeForce4 line of video cards.
The GeForce3 video card line improved the image quality of the GeForce2 line with a slight bump in performance.
The GeForce4 4n00 video card line takes the next step by maintaining the image quality and providing a significant performance boost!
The three high performance cards in the GeForce4 line, the 4200, the 4400 and the 4600, include the same core hardware functionality but at different levels of performance. The GeForce4 Ti 4200 is more than enough for even demanding applications. And it provides the best dollar value as can be seen in this GeForce4 Ti 4200 review by The Tech-Report. But some will find the bragging rights that come with the GeForce4 Ti 4400 and the top-end GeForce4 Ti 4600 irressitable and worth the premium.
NVIDIA GeForce4 - NV17 (GeForce4 MX 460, GeForce4 MX 440, GeForce4 MX 420) And NV25 (GeForce Ti 4600, GeForce Ti 4400, GeForce Ti 4200) Come To Life
tells you more about the capabilities of the GeForce4 video card line than you'll ever really want to know.
A nice summary of the performance expectations for the GeForce4 video card line is this
GeForce4 Video Card Roundup Review
GeForce3 Titanium Video Cards - GeForce2 Ti 200, GeForce3 Ti 200, GeForce3 Ti 500
The GeForce3 Titanium line of video cards has replaced the GeForce3 line. The GeForce3 Titanium line of video cards consists of the GeForce2 Ti 200, the GeForce3 Ti 200 and the GeForce3 Ti 500. The GeForce2 Ti 200 has the same features as the GeForce2 Pro, but has a faster core clock. In raw terms, the GeForce2 Ti 200 is a little faster video card, but in real-world terms it performs essentially the same as the GeForce2 Pro.
The other two video cards, the GeForce3 Ti 200 and the GeForce3 Ti 500 are more interesting since their feature set is the same as the GeForce3 video card line. The feature set of GeForce3 video cards is significantly different than that of GeForce2 video cards. The GeForce3 is capable of providing a much better, more accurate, more detailed image than the GeForce2 at the same performance level. That's saying quite a lot because the GeForce2 will knock your eyes out if all you've seen is pre-NVIDIA images. But the GeForce3 takes rendering to the next level.
The GeForce3 Ti 200 video card easily outperforms the GeForce2 Pro video card - by 10 percent to 20 percent or more, depending on the type of test being run. But not only that, since the GeForce3 Ti 200 is a GeForce3 video card it has the potential to render much better images with no loss of performance. Now this is really good news because the GeForce3 Ti 200 is priced attractively. The GeForce3 Ti 500 video card solidly outperforms the GeForce3 Ti 200, but at a much greater cost.
For a performance comparison of the different GeForce3 Titanium video cards and how they compare to the ATI Radeon video cards such as the ATI Radeon 7500 and ATI Radeon 8500, plus other NVIDIA GeForce2 video cards, such as the GeForce2 Pro and GeForce3, this
GeForce3 Video Card Family Roundup Review from AnandTech is excellent!
GeForce2 Video Cards
For a performance comparison of the different GeForce2 type video cards, including the GeForce2 MX, GeForce2 GTS, and GeForce2 Ultra, this
GeForce2 Video Card Roundup Review And Comparison from GameSpot is very good!
ATI Radeon Video Card Versus NVIDIA Video Card
The ATI Radeon 7500 video card and ATI Radeon 8500 video card looked very promising when they first came out and many people, like me, hoped they would give NVIDIA and the GeForce3 something to worry about. Perhaps they did because they are decent video cards and the GeForce line has seen a steady decline in price, but the ATI Radeon video cards can't beat the performance or price of the GeForce3 line. The ATI Radeon 7500/8500 were released with poor drivers. Later versions of the video drivers were an improvement, but still lagged behind the NVIDIA video cards. Worse though is there is suspicion that the ATI video drivers have been specialized and optimized to perform particularly well in commonly used video card benchmarks. Meaning they can't beat the NVIDIA video cards even under ideal conditions, and that they will underperform the NVIDIA video cards under real-world conditions even worse than generally believed. I hope ATI Radeon keeps trying because without them there would be no serious competition to NVIDIA's dominance with the GeForce video card line. The longer ATI Radeon hangs in there the more we, the consumers, will benefit from cut-throat price wars and aggressive technology leaps as we've seen and benefitted from with the Intel and AMD processor wars. But at the moment, no ATI Radeon will see the inside of My Super PC!
Best Video Card Choice
If I were buying My Super PC's components today then the two choices I would weigh are the GeForce3 Ti 200 and the GeForce4 Ti 4200. Practically speaking, the GeForce3 Ti 200 provides more than enough performance for anything you might do and it should be less expensive than the GeForce4 Ti 4200. On the other hand, it might be worth the premium to have the bragging rights of the GeForce4 Ti 4200. And a GeForce4 Ti 4200 video card certainly carries more prestige.
Nevertheless, both the GeForce2 GTS video card and the GeForce2 Pro video cards I've previously used are excellent cards and if you end up with either one then you will certainly have a great video card. From a performance point of view, either a GeForce2 GTS video card or a GeForce2 Pro video card will get the job done, no problem.
Even greater video card performance by way of a GeForce4 Ti 4400 or GeForce4 Ti 4600 is venturing deep into overkill territory and at hefty premiums in price. Each provides an additional jump in overall graphics-based system performance of 5% to 10% each, but each step up carries another steep price premium.
Value Video Card
But what video card is good if you don't need even the power of a GeForce2 GTS or GeForce2 Pro? If you know you won't be using your PC for games or other graphic intensive operations then you may be interested in saving some money on the video card. There are a number of good video cards in the value segment of the market, including the GeForce2 MX, GeForce2 MX400, GeForce2 MX200 and Kyro 2. Even though they are classified as value video cards, they still pack enormous punch when compared to the video cards of even recent years. Competition is quite fierce, so prices are excellent. On the other hand, too many choices can be a bit confusing. GamePC's Value Video Card Roundup Review does a good job of clearing things up a bit.
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