Visiontek's GeForce3

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The Visiontek GeForce3
Powered by NVIDIA and made in the USA

By Dave Altavilla
5/24/2001


Two very real game engines, that utilize the full potential of the GeForce3, have recently been developed.  Dronez, developed by Zetha,  is an OpenGL benchmark that utilizes the Pixel Shader, vertex programs and heavy duty T&L along with some fancy skinning.  Aquanox is a DirectX 8 game that is being developed by Massive Development (no small pun there either).  It also, utilizes Vertex and Pixel Shaders.

Let's fire them up and check the numbers.
 

Dronez and Aquanox Benchmarks
Where old technology falls behind...

 

Now that is quite and eye chart, eh?  Here we see the GeForce3 in the blue color bars and GeForce2 Ultra in yellow.  In the "Gen HQ" setting, we are not exercising the nFiniteFX engine of the GeForce3 but rather all settings are configured for a "Generic" graphics accelerator.  In "GF2 Bump" mode, we are not using Vertex or Pixel Shaders or any part of the nFiniteFX engine of the GeForce3 but rather the game is optimized for max performance on a GeForce2.  Finally, the "GeForce3 Bump" setting utilizes the nFiniteFX engine of the GeForce3 and its Vertex/Pixel Shaders, that are supported in the GPU itself.  This setting, in the case of the GeForce2 Ultra, forces the system to do all of these new features in software on the host CPU.

You can see where things are headed here.  For next generation 3D gaming, the Visiontek GeForce3 really shows its muscle.   Here are a couple of screenshots from this game to give you an idea of the visuals a GeForce3 brings to the table.  These were all taken in GeForce3 Bump mode.

Click images for full view of Dronez screenshots
   

You saw the Aquanox shots early in this article, now let's look at the numbers.  "Aquamark" is a stress test of sorts, based on the Aquanox game engine.  It is designed to really crunch on the graphics subsystem.

The first thing that comes to mind here is that even the GeForce3 can't break 50 fps.  There is more to this picture than meets the eye however.  At 800X600, the GF3 is 2X the performance of the GeForce2 Ultra.  Also, it is pretty obvious that the GeForce2 Ultra is basically capped at around 20 fps.  Again, we would have liked to see this benchmark/game engine post snappier numbers on the GeForce3 but we need to emphasize that this is a "stress test" benchmark. 
 
Here is a snap from the Aquamark read me that says it all...
 
"AquaMark is a stress test for DX8 drivers and hardware. The underlying krass- Engine floods any(!) graphics card that is currently available, with data. We use AquaMark mainly as a stability test. We work closely together with all major gfx card vendors in order to fix problems within our technology and within their  drivers.  The krass-Engine is the first engine available that fully exploits DX8
Vertex Shaders and Pixel Shaders. However the engine does not rely on Pixel Shaders  which can be emulated at some extend through the automatic usage of the DX7 Texture Stage pipeline. So, you will NOT need a P4/1.5GHz and a GeForce3 to play AquaNox, our recommendation for AquaNox is a PIII/Atholon 500MHz and a GeForce2."

And so boys and girls, the actual game itself will run significantly faster than the scores you see here in our tests.  All told, it's easy to see from our benchmark run, how the Visiontek GeForce3's nFiniteFX engine powers the DX8 3D action.  Again, the folks at Massive talk about "emulation" of Pixel Shaders versus doing it in hardware like the GeForce3.  When these new titles come to market, they may run with all the eye candy on a GeForce2 but the GeForce3 cards will really fly, the way the game is meant to.

 

We've done our best to cover all aspects of this new GeForce3 based card from Visiontek.  For a good general comparison of GeForce3 technology, be sure to check out BigWop's review of the Gigabyte GV-GF3000 as well.  We're very much impressed by the somewhat untapped power of the nVidia GeForce3 chipset and this Visiontek card is quality piece of hardware. 

In addition, kudos to the folks at Visiontek for offering one of the lowest cost GeForce3 cards on the market.  You can find one of these currently on Pricewatch for $343.  For those of you looking to upgrade from a GeForce2 Ultra, it may make sense to wait for the prices to come down a notch more, before taking the GeForce3 plunge.  However, if you are taking two or three upgrade steps and want a card that will power next generation 3D Gaming to its fullest, you simply can't do better than a GeForce3 card. 

The Visiontek GeForce3 scores a Heat Meter Rating of....

Are you talkin' ta me?  Get into the HotHardware Conference Room!

 
Tags:  GeForce, E3, VISION, force, visiontek, K

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