iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






September'2001 3Digest -
NVIDIA Riva TNT2 Ultra

By Andrew Worobyew

This chip is presented by Hercules Dynamite TNT2Ultra 32 MBytes, AGP videocard (a legendary last product of Hercules Computer - Dynamite TNT2 Ultra that works on higher clock rates than others of the type. Hercules Computer went bankrupt and was bought by Guillemot due to production of this card).


  • NVIDIA Riva TNT2Ultra chip, 175 MHz clock rate (lowered down to Riva TNT2 Ultra standard of 150 MHz;
  • 32 MBytes SDRAM memory in 16 Hyundai 5.5ns microchips, clock rate lowered down to 183 MHz, 128-bit bus;
  • Peak speed of scene drawing in multitexturing mode is 150 megapixels/sec and 300 megatexels/sec.

Overclocks to 190/225 MHz (see summary diagrams).

Exactly 2 years ago in hard business battles between NVIDIA, 3dfx and Matrox, Riva TNT2 based cards have appeared. Actually they were just tweaked Riva TNTs as the architecture had remained the same: two rendering pipelines with 1 texture module per each, so actually 1 pipeline with 2 TMUs (in the multitexturing mode - and now all games work in it - pipelines combine into one). This chip is rather old, it doesn't support any of new features such as anisotropy, cubic and relief texturing, etc. It also lacks the real trilinear filtering (it can be artificially enabled sacrificing half the perfomance). These cards are not on sale now, just old stocks.

For the 20th of September'2001 the latest drivers from NVIDIA - 8.04, 8.05, 14.40 and 14.61.

Due to test platform changes, testing was conducted on several testbeds.

As you see old 2.* drivers work very good with this card. Pay attention to falloffs of 6.11-6.20 versions. I want readers to note 7.16 and 7.17 drivers, they are just "raw" and can't functions properly even on beta level. Quake3 and other OpenGL applications doesn't run at all, and D3D games show big speed falloff. Besides there were many visual artefacts with these versions. 7.83 and 7.91 versions cause Unreal Tournament (Direct3D) to lock up.

I shall mark that 14.40 and 14.61 versions do not support DirectX 8.0 for TNT2 cards, causing problems in a number of games and in 3Dmark2001. Also overlay settings tab is disabled in a number of 14.* versions. It may be enabled with RivaTuner utility.

There are not so many problems with 3D graphics in old games, but new ones like Giants cause bunches of artefacts to show up:

And trilinear approximation instead of true trilinear filtering lowers the card's rating (you can see this approximation on the shots above - take a look at the sandy soil). Below are shots taken with this card and with reference NVIDIA GeForce3.

Games / Cards 1 2 3 4 5 6


Games / Cards 7 8 9 10 11 12


Games / Cards 13 14 15 16 17 18


Games / Cards 19 20 21 22 23 24
Games / Cards

Game list:

  • 1. Quake3
  • 2. Unreal
  • 3. Unreal Tournament
  • 4. No One Lives Forever
  • 5. Serious Sam
  • 6. Colin McRAE Rally2
  • 7. American McGee's Alice
  • 8. Mercedes Benz Truck Racing
  • 9. Sacrifice
  • 10. F.A.K.K. 2
  • 11. Need For Speed V (Porshe 2000)
  • 12. Real MYST
  • 13. Blade of Darkness
  • 14. Giants
  • 15. 3DMark2001: Game1
  • 16. 3DMark2001: Game2
  • 17. 3DMark2001: Game3
  • 18. 3DMark2001: Game4
  • 19. 3DMark2001: Dot3
  • 20. 3DMark2001: EMBM
  • 21. 3DMark2001: Vertex Shaders
  • 22. 3DMark2001: Pixel Shaders
  • 23. Black & White
  • 24. Undying
  • 25. Anachronox
  • 26. Max Payne

This card has fair to good 2D quality. There are "soaping" effects in resolutions of and higher than 1280x1024. There are many videocards based on TNT2/TNT2-A/TNT2Ultra chipsets with not so fair 2D quality therefore given material can't prove the opinion that all Riva TNT2 based cards have good 2D.

And 6.* drivers are not compatible with the software for sound cards based on Yamaha processor, as well as with SoftXG100 software synthesizer. Start or Close Window buttons can be spoiled by some "garbage" in 2D mode.

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