iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






September'2001 3Digest
NVIDIA GeForce 256 SDR

By Andrey Vorobiev

This chip is presented by ELSA ErazorX DVI 32 MBytes, AGP videocard.


  • NVIDIA GeForce256 SDR chip, 120 MHz clock rate;
  • 32 MBytes SDRAM memory in four Samsung 6ns microchips, 166 MHz clock rate , 128-bit bus;
  • Peak speed of scene drawing in multitexturing mode is 240 megapixels/sec and 480 megatexels/sec.

Wasn't tweaked due to more productive version based on NVIDIA GeForce256 DDR.

Cards based on GeForce256 GPU with SDR memory have appeared in the Fall'99, being that time the first accelerator to have built-in geometrical coprocessor, providing the hardware coordinate transformation and lighting under condition of game's Hardware T&L support. Nowadays it's the basic level accelerator and the lowest in the NVIDIA's GPU line. Such cards are not manufactured anymore and the sales are held to get rid of the remaining supplies. These cards are almost replaced by new GeForce2 MX.

For the 20th of March '2001 the latest drivers versions from NVIDIA are 6.88, 7.56, 10.70, 10.80 and 11.00.

As prices for these cards have fallen below $120, we tested them not on PIII-1000 MHz testbed, but on the PIII-600 MHz one. Below are diagrams of perfomance estimation with previous drivers versions.

You can see that change to 5.* drivers gave good productivity boost. 6.* versions showed good results. I want readers to note 7.16 and 7.17 version drivers, they are just "raw" and can't functions properly even on beta level. Direct3D games show big speed falloff along with lots of visual artefacts. 6.66 and 6.67 versions are shipped with NVCPL.DLL that "doesn't know magic Coolbits variable" that makes it impossible to tune frequencies and VSync for D3D in the display settings. 10.* version showed slight perfomance falloffs in Direct3D. I chose 7.56 version for further testing, estimating of 3D-quality and also for calculating usability coefficients.

I advise you to read about S3TC influence on speed and perfomance, because S3TC realization in OpenGL is important nowadays, and it shows good results.

There are no 3D quality problems in any games. You can compare screenshots to the left (this card) with those to the right (NVIDIA GeForce3).



Unreal Tournament:

No One Lives Forever:

Serious Sam:

Colin McRAE Rally2:

American McGee's Alice:

Mercedes Benz Truck Racing:



Need For Speed 5 (Porshe 2000):

Real MYST:

Blade of Darkness:


3DMark2001 Pro, GAME1:

3DMark2001 Pro, GAME2:

3DMark2001 Pro, GAME3:

3DMark2001 Pro, Vertex Shaders:

2D quality is good enough. Only in 1600x1200 you can see some "soaping" effects on some monitors. The majority of users will be satisfied. And I shall mark that 6.* version 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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