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Prolink GeForce3 Ti 200 Review with NVIDIA's nForce
By: Mike Chambers - January 8, 2002

Past Graphics Engines

There was a time during the early days of 3D gaming when graphics hardware was playing catch-up with software in regards to performance and features. id Software was at the forefront of pushing the graphics envelope with ground breaking games such as Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. They eventually moved to developing games using OpenGL which became a strategic business move as OpenGL was a proven applications programming interface and could be ported to the Windows, Macintosh, and Linux platforms.


Click to Enlarge - 123KB

During the time the OpenGL accelerated version of Quake, or GLQuake, was popular, the main 3D graphics manufacturers were busy designing hardware that ran Quake faster. After all, at it's core OpenGL is a software interface to hardware.

Demo1 - 16-Bit Color

Resolution NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 500 Prolink GeForce3 Ti 200
1024x768 Avg: 424 Avg: 338
1280x1024 Avg: 309 Avg: 243
1600x1200 Avg: 237 Avg: 184
Quake 2
1024x768 Avg: 385 Avg: 307
1280x960 Avg: 298 Avg: 226
1600x1200 Avg: 213 Avg: 160

Fast-forwarding to 2002, it's obvious that the GeForce3 Ti 200 can easily handle the processing requirements of yesterday's favorites. This includes games based on the Quake 2 engine such as Soldier of Fortune, Kingpin, Half-Life, and Counter-Strike which continues to attract over 50,000 on-line players at any given time.

Early first person shooters had little to offer in terms of a user interface for manipulating graphics settings. For example, with GLQuake, the resolution had to be set in a batch file and there were no in-game options allowing it to be changed. Using 32-bit color in GLQuake required a command line option while Quake 2 defaulted to the color depth of the Windows desktop. Then there's the console, which is reminiscent of a DOS-based interface, but is a powerful feature as it allows access to wealth of game options. You wonder if the causal gamer ever survived back then.

Based on a modified Quake 2 engine, Raven developed an elegant user interface for the graphics settings in Soldier of Fortune. However, the settings are labeled with terminology that could only be understood by those familiar with 3D graphics - specular lighting, bit depth, texture filtering, and texture compression.

For a moment, put yourself in the position of a casual gamer. You begin playing Soldier of Fortune using the default graphics settings, which includes bilinear texture filtering. While becoming familiar with the 3D world, you notice that many textures look grainy. One of the many features that makes the GeForce3 so appealing is support for advanced methods of texture filtering. For example, clicking on any of the following images from Soldier of Fortune will link to a java applet that allows you to compare the differences in the GeForce3's texture filtering methods.

Texture Filtering - Soldier of Fortune

No Filtering Bilinear
Click To Compare Texture Filtering Modes Click To Compare Texture Filtering Modes
Trilinear 4X Anisotropic
Click To Compare Texture Filtering Modes Click To Compare Texture Filtering Modes

While trilinear texture filtering has served us well, anisotropic filtering is more powerful and is an important feature to improving 3D image quality. As each filtering method uses an increasing number of texture samples during the texture mapping process, performance will decline. However, the GeForce3 Ti 200 has plenty of processing power at its disposal to use high levels of advanced texture filtering with the older generation of games.

Next Page: Quake 3 Performance

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Last Updated on January 8, 2002

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