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nVidia Video Chipset Comparison



Benchmark Comparison



Robert Richmond

Benchmark Comparison

Benchmark System Configuration

Processor AMD Duron 750 @ 950 MHz
Motherboard Asus A7V VIA KT-133
Memory 256MB IBM PC-133
Storage 10GB Maxtor ATA/100 7200rpm

32x Toshiba CD-ROM
Operating System, Drivers Microsoft Windows Millennium

Microsoft DirextX 8.0

Promise ATA Storage Driver 1.6b33

VIA Chipset/AGP 4.29v

nVidia Video Detonator 7.52

Video Cards Tested

Creative Labs TNT-2 Ultra 32mb
Creative Labs GeForce256 SDR 32mb
Creative Labs GeForce256 DDR
nVidia Reference GeForce-2 MX 32mb
Guillemot Hercules GeForce-2 GTS 32mb
nVidia Reference GeForce-2 Pro 64mb
nVidia Reference GeForce2 Ultra 64mb

Benchmark Software

Quake3 Retail Release
Demo1, High Quality Mode
Unreal Tournament v4.36
Reverend's Thunder Demo


Quake 3

Perhaps the most popular game ever, ID Software’s Quake3 highly optimised 3D rendering engine offers an excellent OpenGL benchmark implementation. The default Demo1 map rendered with "High Quality" settings is utilised to better determine the maximum performance characteristics of each tested video card. The only settings varied between each test are resolution and colour depth. To further aid in benchtest accuracy, all final results scores are a composite average of three rendering passes.

Quake 3, 16-bit High Quality

640x480x16 800x600x16 1024x768x16 1600x1200x16
TNT-2 Ultra 84.8 76.4 53.9 23.2
GF256 SDR 98.5 96.6 72.1 28.6
GF256DDR 101.8 98.1 82.3 42.9
GF2 MX 103.3 98.5 79.1 35.7
GF2 GTS 106.1 105.9 103.7 63.4
GF2 Pro 106.3 106.2 104.7 68.5
GF2 Ultra 107.1 106.8 105.6 82.3

Quake 3, 32-bit High Quality

640x480x32 800x600x32 1024x768x32 1600x1200x32
TNT-2 Ultra 77.3 50.4 34.5 13.8
GF256 SDR 89.5 79.8 52.6 17.9
GF256DDR 98.7 90.4 64.8 28.5
GF2 MX 97.9 84.7 57.4 20.1
GF2 GTS 103.5 102.8 88.6 37.2
GF2 Pro 104.7 103.2 94.7 40.2
GF2 Ultra 106.3 105.8 104.9 55.9

Each of the cards tested offered more than enough performance for acceptable low-resolution game-play. However, the situation sharply changes as resolution and colour-depth increases. At 1600x1200, the TNT-2 Ultra, GeForce256 SDR, and GeForce-2 MX lack the memory bandwidth needed to sustain a playable frame rate. The GF256 DDR fares slightly better, but still falls well short of the GeForce-2 GTS-based cards. The only card even capable of offering a truly enjoyable frame rate at 1600x1200x32 is the GeForce-2 Ultra. The other GF-2 DDR cards are moderately playable at this level, but the performance often falls well below the minimum desired frame rate of 30 fps.

Unreal Tournament

GT Interactive’s Unreal Tournament offers an excellent benchmark test for DirectX performance. The D3D rendering engine available with patch version 4.36 is utilised for optimum performance. All testing is performed using the default configuration, as only the resolution and colour depth is altered for each test. As with Quake3, the final result scores are a composite of three rendering passes. The particular benchmark being employed for this testing is Reverend’s "Thunder" test map.

Unreal Tournament, 16-bit

640x480x16 800x600x16 1024x768x16 1280x1024x16
TNT-2 Ultra 71.8 69.5 57.1 37.4
GF256 SDR 72.8 69.8 65.4 47.6
GF256DDR 72.9 70.0 66.7 53.4
GF2 MX 73.1 71.2 67.9 51.5
GF2 GTS 74.4 72.9 70.1 65.6
GF2 Pro 74.8 73.1 71.1 68.6
GF2 Ultra 75.3 75.2 73.6 70.5

Unreal Tournament, 32-bit

  640x480x32 800x600x32 1024x768x32 1280x1024x32
TNT-2 Ultra 69.7 58.3 34.1 21.9
GF256 SDR 69.9 66.0 49.8 26.8
GF256DDR 70.5 68.2 56.3 32.4
GF2 MX 70.7 68.5 53.1 29.3
GF2 GTS 71.8 70.1 66.9 36.2
GF2 Pro 72.1 70.8 67.2 36.7
GF2 Ultra 72.9 71.2 69.3 39.2

UT proves to offer a somewhat different analysis of the performance characteristics at the low-resolution edge of the spectrum, as the older TNT-2 Ultra offers nearly the same performance as the GF-2 Ultra. To contrast, the high-resolution results are more representative of the earlier Quake 3 returns. Only the GeForce-2 GTS-based cards are capable of offering enough sustained frames per second for enjoyable game-play. However, it is disappointing that none of the cards tested were capable of an average of 40+ frames per second at 1280x1024x32.


Conclusion . . .

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