On February 6th NVIDIA had
their widest product launch yet. The GeForce4 burst onto the scene with five new
products to supply a variety of different price and performance sectors.
Traditionally, a new launch was a one-product aimed solely at the high-end with
an accommodating price for that sector. The elevated prices descended in due
time as the product line diversified to enter two new markets: the lower priced
“budget” market segment as well as the higher priced “extreme” market.
We witnessed this occur with the GeForce2 GTS from which the GeForec2 MX and
GeForce2 Ultra product lines were announced several months later. The GeForce3
received the same treatment with the announcement of the GeForce3 Ti 200 and Ti
500 just shy of six months ago. This five product wide launch provides a new
jolt to the video card market.
The various GeForce4 chipsets are positioned to replace every NVIDIA card
currently on the market. Not every GeForce4 is an equal though. The product line
is divided into two very distinct segments aimed at conquering different
markets. The GeForce4 Ti chipset is the rightful heir to receive the NVIDIA
performance crown from the GeForce3. The GeForce4 MX on the other hand, is a
sort of mishmash of various new technologies while missing a key feature of the
GeForce3. The GeForce4 MX supports NVIDIA’s new Accuview Antialiasing format,
a trimmed down version of the Lightspeed Memory Architecture II as well as nView.
nView is a much more feature filled and robust version of NVIDIA’s TwinView,
which allows multi-monitor display capabilities. Accuview AA and the Lightspeed
Memory Architecture are clearly explained in Mike’s preview of the GeForce4 here.
The GeForce4 MX lacks the programmable transformation and lighting engine (nFinite
Effects Engine) found in the GeForce3 lineup. With NVIDIA touting the nFinite
Effects Engine as one of the great features of the GeForce3, many wonder why it
isn’t included in the GeForce4 MX.
Since its announcement, the
GeForce4 MX nomenclature has earned many a negative feedback for its lacking
nFinite Effects Engine. We will analyze the performance of the GeForce4 MX in
various tests, but the following image demonstrates what all the fuss is about.
GeForce3 Ti 200 (the “low-end” GeForce3) is 25% percent faster than the
GeForce4 MX? The GeForce4 MX is slower than the least performing GF3? Then why
is it called a GeForce4? Isn’t that misleading? I can’t begin to count the
number of times I’ve seen people post/complain in various forums about how
NVIDIA is intentionally misleading customers with the GeForce4 nametag and how
the “unsavvy” computer purchaser will make a bad purchase by getting a
GeForce4 MX. I believe this is all useless banter as 1) the GeForce4 MX is a
technological step down from the GeForce3, and nobody that owns a GeForce3
isn’t “in the know”. 2) The MX line is intended for budget purposes by
having less performing core and memory speeds. The GeForce2 MX core was also
depraved of two of the original GeForce2’s four graphics pipelines as well as
being paired up with SD RAM. The GeForce4 MX on the other hand is similarly
chopped by only having two pipelines as well as not incorporating the nFinite
Effects Engine. The GeForce4 MX provides plenty of features, just don’t expect
it to come close to the performance of a GeForce4 Ti. As the old saying goes,
“You get what you pay for.”