Prolink GeForce3 Ti 200 Review with NVIDIA's nForce
By: Mike Chambers - January 8, 2002
I had good success with overclocking the Prolink GeForce3 Ti 200. Considering that 4ns rated DDR memory can in theory operate at 500MHz, I could have been more aggressive and reached higher clock speeds, but settled on a core clock speed of 200MHz and memory clock speed of 480MHz. This is up from the default clock speeds of 175MHz/400MHz.
The largest performance gains associated with overclocking occur when memory bandwidth is constrained. This typcially happens when 32-bit color is used at super high resolutions or high resolution antialiasing is enabled. The following overclocked runs in Quake 3 were done with maximum quality settings and sound disabled.
1024x768 - Quincunx Antialiasing - No Anisotropic: 70 to 82 fps
1280x1024 - No Antialiasing - 4X Anisotropic: 66 to 76 fps
1600x1200 - No Antialiasing - No Anisotropic: 77 to 92 fps
Impressive as 92 frames per second at 1600x1200 is more to my liking. In this case, overclocking the Prolink GeForce3 Ti 200 provided an average gain in performance of 17%. This much of a boost in performance can also provide you with some ammunition to enable more settings to enhance graphics quality.
Overclocked runs were also made with the default settings in 3DMark2001 where the overall score increased from 6873 to 7377 which is a boost of 7%.
Unreal Tournament performance received a healthy increase in performance at a resolution of 1600x1200. At default clock speeds on the Prolink GeForce3 Ti 200 frame rates in the Thunder demo were as follows: average - 73, minimum - 40, and maximum - 146. At 200MHz/480MHz: average - 85, minimum - 48, and maximum - 170. This represents an increase of 20%, 16%, and 20% for the average, minimum, and maximum frame rates respectively.
The PixelView GeForce3 Ti 200 from Prolink performed admirably during my extended period of testing with the nForce and Windows XP. Stability was excellent as I didn't experience a single system related crash during benchmarking or gameplay sessions. The 2D image quality is quite good and on par with NVIDIA's reference GeForce3 Titanium. I made it a point to author this review with large fonts enabled at a resolution of 1600x1200 and a refresh rate of 85Hz.
The Prolink GeForce3 Ti 200 proved to be versatile as it allowed me to use a variety of settings including high resolutions, advanced texture filtering, and antialiasing. With these choices, the trick to enjoyable gameplay is finding a balance between image quality and performance. After having compared performance to the GeForce3 Ti 500, the GeForce3 Ti 200 is clearly the better choice at this time when based on a price/performance ratio.
For those of you looking to upgrade to a GeForce3 Ti 200, I can certainly recommend the PixelView from Prolink. I see the GeForce3 Ti 200 as an upgrade path for owners of GeForce and GeForce2 based graphics card that also have a fast processor (800MHz +). More consideration should be given if antialiasing performance is important.
About The nForce
If you've read any of my graphics card reviews up to this point, you might have noticed that they were all done on an Intel based platform. I've always felt that performance takes a back seat to stability and have been leery about using AMD after constantly reading about issues with early motherboard chipsets. Of couse that was in the past and since then the AMD platform has matured.
Sometimes you don't know a good thing until it smacks you upside the head. This is exactly what happen to me when I put together my first AMD based system using NVIDIA's nForce. Sure, I was expecting a few problems here and there, but guess what? Other than four random reboot's which occurred while browsing the Internet, I haven't experienced any problems. And I'm certain the random rebooting is due to Windows XP as it also happens on my Intel based machine.
Note that the intent of this review was not to test the integrated features of the nForce such as on-board video, audio, and ethernet. When I first received the communications riser card (CNR) from NVIDIA, I was unable to get rear channel sound to work, but have since learned two important items. First, there's a jumper on the CNR card that needs to be set properly in order to get rear speaker support and second I was using a beta driver that did not have EAX support. Now that this review is complete, and NVIDIA has released an official set of drivers for the nForce with EAX support, I can concentrate on testing other features of the nForce.
I've got to hand it to NVIDIA for becoming a player in the motherboard chipset market. While there's stiff competition in this segment, the nForce is here and is already being adopted by our fellow gamers. Sure there are growing pains associated with any new technology such as the nForce and I've been down that road as an early user of Intel's 815E chipset.
With any important product that you're considering purchasing, you must do your homework. Read reviews. Scan the messageboards. Talk to your friends. Make your decison based on facts and not on idle gossip.