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80 Video Cards of 1999-2003: 3D Benchmarking

December 8, 2003




 




CONTENTS

  1. Video cards features
  2. Testbed, test tools, 2D quality
  3. Test results: Code Creatures
  4. Test results: Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
  5. Test results: Return to Castle Wolfenstein
  6. Test results: Unreal Tournament 2003
  7. Test results: Unreal II: The Awakening
  8. Test results: RightMark 3D
  9. Test results: Splinter Cell
  10. Conclusion

We have recently tested some Low-End video cards (up to US$100) on the latest versions of drivers (for the beginning of December 2003) in modern gaming applications (though most older cards do not support shaders, and they got zero scores in the tests where games without shaders look awful).

Today we are going to carry out a through complex test of most video cards released in 1999-2003 (but only those which are able to work on modern mainboards requiring AGP power supply of 1.5V, that is why Voodoo3/5 based cards are missed). But this is just a summary review, not a comparative analysis as it doesn't make sense to compare speeds of various cards of different generations without accounting for quality because up-to-date accelerators deliver perfect gameplay with AA and anisotropy enabled, in contrast to video cards of previous generations.

I selected 80 cards from the collection of our 3Digests of different times including those from the latest 3Digests. Some of the cards are borrowed from traders.

The tests were carried out in two resolutions: 800x600 (to relieve suffering of the low-end cards) and 1024x768 as this is the most frequently used resolution today.

So, the review covers the following cards (the average price in USD for the beginning of December 2003 is given in parentheses; the cards are taken only from well known companies):

  1. NVIDIA RIVA TNT2 Ultra (20)
  2. NVIDIA GeForce2 MX 200 (15)
  3. NVIDIA GeForce2 MX 400 (28)
  4. NVIDIA GeForce256 (36)
  5. NVIDIA GeForce2 GTS (35)
  6. NVIDIA GeForce2 Pro (40)
  7. NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440 (45)
  8. NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440SE (36)
  9. NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 460 (55)
  10. NVIDIA GeForce4 MX 440-8x (55)
  11. NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 200 (70)
  12. NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 (100)
  13. NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4400 (148)
  14. NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600 (160)
  15. NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x (125)
  16. NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4800SE (140)
  17. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 64bit (58)
  18. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128bit 250/400 MHz (67)
  19. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128bit 250/300 MHz (60)
  20. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128bit 275/500 MHz (64)
  21. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra (100)
  22. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600XT 64bit (89)
  23. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600XT 128bit (120)
  24. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 128MB 325/550 MHz (118)
  25. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 128MB 325/600 MHz (175)
  26. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 256MB 325/500 MHz (149)
  27. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 256MB 325/400 MHz (141)
  28. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 256MB 350/600 MHz (138)
  29. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra 350/700 MHz (192)
  30. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra 400/800 MHz (223)
  31. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 (175)
  32. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra (252)
  33. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 (265)
  34. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra (340)
  35. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900SE (CP/LX) (252)
  36. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 (313)
  37. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900EPV (321)
  38. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Turbo (380)
  39. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra (452)
  40. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra (540)
  41. ATI RAGE 128 PRO (14)
  42. ATI RADEON 7000 (VE) 32MB (30)
  43. ATI RADEON 7200 64MB DDR (20)
  44. ATI RADEON 7200 32MB DDR (20)
  45. ATI RADEON 7500LE 64MB DDR (38)
  46. ATI RADEON 7500 64MB DDR (50)
  47. ATI RADEON 9000 PRO 128MB (78)
  48. ATI RADEON 9100 64MB (65)
  49. ATI RADEON 9100 128MB (70)
  50. ATI RADEON 8500 64MB (70)
  51. ATI RADEON 8500 128MB (85)
  52. ATI RADEON 9200SE 128MB (47)
  53. ATI RADEON 9200 64bit 64MB (57)
  54. ATI RADEON 9200 128MB (67)
  55. ATI RADEON 9600SE 128MB (102)
  56. ATI RADEON 9600 128MB (113)
  57. ATI RADEON 9600 256MB (135)
  58. ATI RADEON 9600 PRO 128MB 400/600 MHz (168)
  59. ATI RADEON 9600 PRO-EZ 256MB 400/400 MHz (155)
  60. ATI RADEON 9600 XT (232)
  61. ATI RADEON 9500 128bit 128MB (147)
  62. ATI RADEON 9500 PRO (165)
  63. ATI RADEON 9700 (230)
  64. ATI RADEON 9700 PRO (270)
  65. ATI RADEON 9800SE 128bit (202)
  66. ATI RADEON 9800SE 256bit (255)
  67. ATI RADEON 9800 (275)
  68. ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 128MB 380/680 MHz (340)
  69. ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 128MB 400/680 MHz (400)
  70. ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 256MB (478)
  71. ATI RADEON 9800 XT 256MB (530)
  72. 3dfx Voodoo4 4500 (22)
  73. Matrox G550 32MB (36)
  74. Matrox Parhelia 128MB (340)
  75. SIS Xabre 400 (35)
  76. SIS Xabre 600 (65)
  77. PowerVR/STM KYRO 64MB (23)
  78. PowerVR/STM KYRO II 64MB (46)
  79. S3 Savage4 Pro+ 32MB (14)
  80. S3 Savage2000 32MB (14)

Cards

1. NVIDIA RIVA TNT2 Ultra
Hercules Dynamite TNT2 Ultra 32MB SDR 128bit, downclocked to 150/183 MHz


2. NVIDIA GeForce2 MX 200
Gigabyte GeForce2 MX200 32MB SDR 64bit, 175/166 MHz


3. NVIDIA GeForce2 MX 400
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce2 MX 32MB SDR 128bit, 200/183 MHz


4. NVIDIA GeForce256
ASUS V6600 32MB SDR 128bit, 120/166 MHz


5. NVIDIA GeForce2 GTS
AOpen GeForce2 GTS 32MB DDR 128bit, 200/333 MHz


6. NVIDIA GeForce2 Pro
Inno3D Tornado GeForce2 Pro 64MB DDR 128bit, 200/400 MHz


7. NVIDIA GeForce4 MX440
eVGA e-GeForce4 MX440 64MB DDR 128bit, 270/400 MHz


8. NVIDIA GeForce4 MX440SE
eVGA e-GeForce4 MX440 64MB DDR 128bit, downclocked to 250/200 MHz (for 64bit emulation)


9. NVIDIA GeForce4 MX460
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 MX460 64MB DDR 128bit, 300/550 MHz


10. NVIDIA GeForce4 MX440-8x
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 MX440-8x 64MB DDR 128bit, 275/512 MHz


11. NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 200
ABIT Siluro GF3 Ti200 64MB DDR 128bit, 175/400 MHz


12. NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 128MB
Triplex Mullennium Silver GeForce4 Ti 4600 128MB DDR 128bit, 300/650 MHz, downclocked to 250/444 MHz


13. NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4400 128MB
Triplex Mullennium Silver GeForce4 Ti 4600 128MB DDR 128bit, 300/650 MHz, downclocked to 275/550 MHz


14. NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600 128MB
Triplex Mullennium Silver GeForce4 Ti 4600 128MB DDR 128bit, 300/650 MHz


15. NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200-8x 128MB
Reference card NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti4200-8x 128MB DDR 128bit, 250/512 MHz


16. NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4800SE 128MB
ABIT Siluro GF4Ti4200-8x OTES 128MB DDR 128bit, 275/550 MHz


17. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 64bit
ASUS V9520 Magic 128MB DDR 64bit, 250/333 MHz


18. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128bit, 250/400 MHz
ASUS V9520 128MB DDR 128bit, 250/400 MHz


19. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128bit, 250/300 MHz
Palit Daytona GeForce FX 5200 128MB DDR 128bit, 250/300 MHz


20. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 128bit, 275/500 MHz
Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5200 Golden 128MB DDR 128bit, 275/500 MHz


21. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra 128bit
MSI FX5200U 128MB DDR 128bit, 325/650 MHz


22. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 XT 64bit
Chaintech GeForce FX 5600 XT 128MB DDR 64bit, 235/400 MHz


23. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 XT 128bit
Palit Daytona GeForce FX 5600 XT 128MB DDR 128bit, 235/400 MHz


24. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 128MB, 325/550 MHz 
MSI FX5600-VTD 128MB DDR 128bit, 325/550 MHz


25. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 128MB, 325/600 MHz 
ASUS V9560 VideoSuite 128MB DDR 128bit, 325/600 MHz


26. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 256MB, 325/500 MHz 
AOpen GeForce FX 5600S 256MB DDR 128bit, 325/500 MHz


27. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 256MB, 325/400 MHz 
Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5600EQ 256MB DDR 128bit, 325/400 MHz


28. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 256MB, 350/600 MHz 
Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5600 Golden 128MB DDR 128bit, 350/600 MHz


29. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra, 350/700 MHz 
Leadtek A310 Ultra 128MB DDR 128bit, 350/700 MHz


30. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra, 400/800 MHz 
ABIT Siluro FX5600 Ultra OTES III 128MB DDR 128bit, 400/800 MHz


31. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700
Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB DDR-II 128bit, 475/900 MHz, downclocked to 425/550 MHz


32. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 
Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB DDR-II 128bit, 475/900 MHz


33. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800
ASUS V9900 128MB DDR-II 128bit, 400/800 MHz


34. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra
ASUS V9900 128MB DDR-II 128bit, overclocked to 500/1000 MHz


35. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900SE (CP/LX)
ASUS V9950SE 128MB 256bit, 400/700 MHz


36. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900
Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900PV 128MB 256bit, 400/850 MHz


37. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900EPV
Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB 256bit, 405/810 MHz


38. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Turbo
Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900 Turbo 256MB 256bit, 410/850 MHz


39. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra
ASUS V9950 Ultra 256MB 256bit, 450/850 MHz


40. NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra
Gigabyte GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB 256bit, 475/950 MHz


41. ATI RAGE 128 PRO 128bit 32MB
ATI RAGE 128 PRO 32MB SDR 128bit, 118/143 MHz


42. ATI RADEON 7000 32MB
Connect3D RADEON 7000 (VE) 32MB DDR 64bit, 183/366 MHz


43. ATI RADEON 7200 64MB DDR
ATI RADEON 64MB DDR 128bit, 183/366 MHz


44. ATI RADEON 7200 32MB DDR
ATI RADEON 32MB DDR 128bit, 166/333 MHz


45. ATI RADEON 7500LE 128bit 64MB
ATI RADEON 7500 64MB DDR 128bit, 290/460 MHz, downclocked to 265/380 MHz


46. ATI RADEON 7500 128bit 64MB
ATI RADEON 7500 64MB DDR 128bit, 290/460 MHz


47. ATI RADEON 9000 PRO 128MB
Hercules 3D Prophet 9000 PRO 128MB DDR 128bit, 275/550 MHz


48. ATI RADEON 9100 (8500LE) 64MB
ATI All-in-Wonder RADEON 8500DV 64MB DDR 128bit, 250/380 MHz


49. ATI RADEON 9100 (8500LE) 128MB
Joytech Apollo Monster II RADEON 8500LE 128MB DDR 128bit, 250/500 MHz


50. ATI RADEON 8500 64MB
SuperGrace RADEON 8500 64MB DDR 128bit, 275/550 MHz


51. ATI RADEON 8500 128MB
Joytech Apollo Monster II RADEON 8500LE 128MB DDR 128bit, 250/500 MHz, overclocked to 275/550 MHz


52. ATI RADEON 9200SE 64bit 128MB
PowerColor RADEON 9200SE 128MB DDR 64bit, 200/333 MHz


53. ATI RADEON 9200 64bit 64MB
Sapphire RADEON 9200 64MB DDR 64bit, 250/400 MHz


54. ATI RADEON 9200 128bit 128MB
Gigabyte RADEON 9200 128MB DDR 128bit, 250/400 MHz


55. ATI RADEON 9600SE 64bit 128MB
ASUS A9600SE 128MB DDR 64bit, 325/400 MHz


56. ATI RADEON 9600 128bit 128MB
Connect3D RADEON 9600 128MB DDR 128bit, 325/400 MHz


57. ATI RADEON 9600 128bit 256MB
Hercules 3D Prophet 9600 256MB DDR 128bit, 325/400 MHz


58. ATI RADEON 9600 PRO 128MB
TYAN G9600PRO 128MB DDR 128bit, 400/600 MHz


59. ATI RADEON 9600 PRO-EZ 256MB
PowerColor RADEON 9600 PRO-EZ 128MB DDR 128bit, 400/400 MHz


60. ATI RADEON 9600 XT 128MB
ASUS A9600XT 128MB DDR 128bit, 500/600 MHz


61. ATI RADEON 9500 128bit 128MB
HIS Excalibur RADEON 9500 128MB DDR 128bit, 275/540 MHz


62. ATI RADEON 9500 PRO 128MB
HIS Excalibur RADEON 9500 PRO 128MB DDR 128bit, 275/540 MHz


63. ATI RADEON 9700 128MB
Hercules 3D Prophet 9700 PRO 128MB DDR 256bit, 325/620 MHz, downclocked to 275/540 MHz


64. ATI RADEON 9700 PRO 128MB
Hercules 3D Prophet 9700 PRO 128MB DDR 256bit, 325/620 MHz, downclocked to 275/540 MHz


65. ATI RADEON 9800 SE 128bit 128MB
Sapphire Atlantis RADEON 9800 SE 128MB DDR 128bit, 325/540 MHz


66. ATI RADEON 9800 SE 256bit 128MB
PowerColor RADEON 9800 SE 128MB DDR 256bit, 380/680 MHz


67. ATI RADEON 9800 128MB
Sapphire Atlantis RADEON 9800 128MB DDR 256bit, 325/580 MHz


68. ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 128MB 380/680 MHz
Hercules 3D Prophet 9800 PRO 128MB DDR 256bit, 380/680 MHz


69. ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 128MB 400/680 MHz
TYAN G9800PRO 128MB DDR 256bit, 400/680 MHz


70. ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 256MB
ATI RADEON 9800 PRO 256MB DDR-II 256bit, 380/700 MHz


71. ATI RADEON 9800 XT 256MB
Hercules 3D Prophet 9800 XT 256MB DDR 256bit, 412/730 MHz (without Overdrive!)


72. 3dfx Voodoo4 4500 32MB
3dfx Voodoo4 4500 32MB SDR 128bit, 166/166 MHz


73. Matrox G550 32MB
Matrox Millennium G550 32MB DDR 64bit, 143/160 MHz


74. Matrox Parhelia 128MB
Matrox Parhelia 128MB DDR 256bit, 220/550 MHz


75. SIS Xabre 400 128MB
Joytech Apollo Xabre Pro 128MB DDR 128bit, 250/500 MHz


76. SIS Xabre 600 128MB
Reference card SIS Xabre 600 64MB DDR 128bit, 310/620 MHz


77. PowerVR/STM KYRO 64MB
Reference card PowerVR (Imagination Tech.) KYRO 64MB SDR 128bit, 115/115 MHz


78. PowerVR/STM KYRO II 64MB
Hercules 3D Prophet 4500 64MB SDR 128bit, 175/175 MHz


79. S3 Savage4 Pro+ 32MB
Diamond Stealth III S540 32MB SDR 128bit, 125/125 MHz


80. S3 Savage2000 32MB
Diamond Viper II 32MB SDR 128bit, 125/143 MHz


Quality (of the modern cards) is studied in 3Digests

Testbed and drivers

Testbed: 

  • Pentium 4 3200 MHz based computer:
    • Intel Pentium 4 3200 MHz CPU;
    • DFI LANParty Pro875 (i875P) mainboard; 
    • 1024 MB DDR SDRAM; 
    • Seagate Barracuda IV 40GB HDD; 
    • Windows XP SP1; DirectX 9.0b;
    • ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors.
    • Drivers:

      • NVIDIA 53.03;
      • ATI RADEON - 6.396 (CATALYST 3.9); RAGE 128 PRO - 3.279;
      • for Voodoo4 - Voodoolizer 1.05.00;
      • for Savage4 - 8.40.02;
      • for Savage2000 - 9.21.01;
      • PowerVR - 21.00.07;
      • Matrox G550 - 5.91.008; Parhelia - 1.05.00.107.

VSync off, S3TC off in applications. 

Below you will see that weak GPUs perform quite poorly in modern games; just remember that processors and platforms do not have a strong effect on performance though they help powerful cards to enable their full potential. 

Test results: performance

Test applications:

Return to Castle Wolfenstein (MultiPlayer) (id Software/Activision) - OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703-demo, test settings - maximum, S3TC OFF, the configurations can be downloaded from here 

Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v.1.05 (Croteam/GodGames) - OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703 demo, test settings: quality, S3TC OFF 

Unreal Tournament 2003 v.2225 (Digital Extreme/Epic Games) - Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality 

Code Creatures Benchmark Pro (CodeCult) - the game that demonstrates card's operation in DirectX 8.1, Shaders, HW T&L. 

Unreal II: The Awakening (Legend Ent./Epic Games) - Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality 

RightMark 3D v.0.4 (one of the gaming scenes) - DirectX 8.1, Dot3, cube texturing, shadow buffers, vertex and pixel shaders (1.1, 1.4). 

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell v.1.2b (UbiSoft) - Direct3D, Vertex/Pixel Shaders 1.1/2.0, Hardware T&L, Very High quality; demo 1_1_2_Tbilisi
 

If you need the demo benchmarks please email me. 

Code Creatures

 

 





 

Serious Sam: The Second Encounter

 

 








 

Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Multiplayer)

 

 








 

Unreal Tournament 2003

 

 








 

Unreal II: The Awakening

 

 








 

RightMark 3D

 

 








 The video cards that do not support shaders are not tested in this application.
 
 

Splinter Cell

 

 








 This game can run without shaders but quality suffers very much and I didn't include scores of video cards that do not support them into the summary diagram.

Using this table (Excel 2003) you can draw up your own diagrams. 

Conclusion

The diagrams perfectly outline the situation in the graphics sector. You can even estimate whether one or another card is worth buying. Just note that the Savage4/Savage2000 (OpenGL) and KYRO/KYRO II based cards had quality problems. In the first case it's clear that the drivers are quite old, and S3 disappeared before it got a chance to bring out drivers for the Windows XP. In the other case there must be a problem of compatibility of the KYRO and i875P based board. Sometimes the performance dropped so much that we had to retest the cards 5-8 times.

Also, we tested the modern cards without AA and anisotropic filtering though they are the key features of modern solutions, and you shouldn't make hasty conclusion seeing that the card priced at $300 loses to one priced at $50 just because it delivers less performance per $1. The $300 card can have AA and/anisotropy enabled; plus, in low resolutions performance of such cards is limited by the CPU.

Also note that if the speed doesn't allow playing even in 800x600 you should sacrifice quality by reducing the detail level and switching off effects. It also should be accounted for when estimating the cards.
 
 

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

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