Say goodbye to the brown box we had grown accustomed to seeing. VisionTek now has to compete with the likes of Hercules and Creative for shelf presence.
And the back, in case you are interested...
The box is similar to one used for a motherboard with the exception of a card retainer. Along with the card comes a more polished user manual and driver disk then seen with previously OEM oriented VisionTek products. The user manual is loaded with information to help you install the card right the first time around, even including a step to verify your card's IRQ.
Currently, VisionTek includes the 12.00 reference drivers. The drivers were stable for all games I have played on the GeForce3. I ran the 11.01 for this portion of the review as the 12.00 drivers have issues surrounding Anisotropic filtering. More on that in part two.
The box may be bigger but the card is getting smaller. Following the reference design, VisionTek's GeForce3 trims a couple square inches of green real estate from your PC when compared to the Ultra. A huge part of this reduction in size comes from the redesign of memory traces bringing storage closer to the chip. Take a look.
The memory is about a quarter of an inch closer to the GPU. The memory heatsinks are now almost butted up to the GeForce3's heatsink/fan unit. The view of the back shows the shortened traces to the memory.
Before opening the fullsize image, you can see that the GeForce3's board components are denser than those on the Ultra. I have equated memory traces to exhaust headers before, the goal is to have all traces equal length. Take a closer look at how NVIDIA accomplished this while reducing the footprint.
Even if you do not get a card with the 3.8ns DDR memory, memory overclocking results should improve over the Ultra because the board itself will alleviate bottlenecks that caused instabilty on the Ultra when increasing the clockspeeds. More on that on the next page.
There is a TV-out on my card. Other manufacturers are still using the daughterboard, but this card has the same Brooktree/Conexant chip we have grown accustomed to on the board. S-Video is default with Composite out available via an optional adapter. I briefly tested the TV-out which functions as advertised.
I shut down the gaming rig, slapped in the new card and got under way. I had already been running the 11.01 drivers so no changes were necessary in that department, but those of you with older revisions should do the usual VGA apapter-shutdown-install new drivers routine.
2D quality is slightly improved on the GeForce3, though I never complained before. I tested all the way up to 1600x1200x32bpp at 75Hz, the upper limit on my Viewsonic E790B. No sign of the Ultra's Interference problem at any resolution or refresh rate, but again, I have never seen the problem on any of the Ultras I have tested in either of my systems.
On the next page, I will open up the floodgates and see how the VisionTek GeForce3 handles increased clockspeeds with a few benchmarks thrown in for good measure.
Next Page: Overclocking the GeForce3