Another computer question -- video cards

I’ve got a screamin’ box under my desk – AMD 1200 MHz Thunderbird, MSI RAID mobo, 640 megs of memory, 140 gigs of hard drive space, and a Lian Li aluminum case.

Thing is … the video card is so-so. I use a Matrosx G400 – wonderful for 2D graphics, producing very, very, very, very sharp images. I’d like to get into gaming a bit more, and although the Matrox does a decent job, it leaves a bit to be desired.

I’d like to get a GeForce 2 or 3 card, but I’m concerned about the 2D image quality. I’ve borrowed some 3D screamers in the past, and wasn’t too impressed with the output – they were fast, but when it came to reading a Web page, the text always seemed quite blurred.

My question to those geekier than me – is there a great 3D card out there that produces images with the same sharpness of a Matrox card?

Try ATI. Their new Radeon 8500 cards are out, and they’ve been known to have good (not as good as Matrox) 2D quality. So you should get good 2D, and good (but not quite geforce3) 3d.

Actually I hear the Geforce 3 has significantly imporved 2D from the Geforce 2, but that depends a lot on the card manufacturer (Elsa, Creative, Hercules, etc.). Since ATI makes the cards and the chipset, that’s not an issue.

One thing to watch out for with ATI is their driver support. The drivers themselves are much better now, but they were slow to update the win2k drivers to get decent game support.

Hey, I’ve personally seen seven different versions of GeForce-2’s doing 2-D work, and all of 'em are crisp as lettuce. Well, except the one that’s hooked up to a six-year-old monitor, but… well… that’s the monitor’s fault. :smiley:

If you can afford it, go with the GeForce-3. ATI cards have always been buggy, and one friend had his All-In-Wonder card completely melt after three months. In short, I’ve never had success with ATI.

But make some cursory examinations of the individual companies that manfacture the cards. I’ve more experience with the GF-2 than the GF-3, so I don’t know which company would be a good one to go with.

ATI Radeon 8500, All the way man. I have a Radeon LE, the first generation, and its a KICKASS card. The Radeon 8500 is similar but more RAM, much faster, and many more features. The Radeons have excellent image quality in 2D and 3D, much better than the GF3s, and they’re inexpensive. Many people complain about drivers, but I’ve personally had very few problems. I even ran XP using the Win2k Radeon drivers until the official XP drivers were released.

The biggest benefits of the Radeon 8500 over the GF3s, besides the image quality and the price, are the features of TruForm and DirectX 8.1 . Truform makes models look smoother and more realistic, and DirectX 8.1 compliance means that the card will support the features of future games in hardware, rather than the software emulation the Geforce3 will need to use because it only supports DirectX 8.0.

Anyway, hope this helps!

I ditto the GF3 recomendation. ATI has the right hardware with the 8500, but their track history on drivers just plain sucks ass.

Thanks for the suggestions! I did some searching through Ars Technica, too, and the consensus seem the same – nothing is as good as a Matrox, the Radeon 8500 comes close, and some GeForce 3 cards are okay.