nV News wants the reader to know a bit more about a video card than just the benchmarks, so we have been trying to interview the companies behind the cards to better inform the consumer.
As part of the VisionTek GeForce2 Ultra review, I sent in some questions for VisionTek to answer concerning the company, the Ultra and the future. John Malley, Marketing Communications Manager for VisionTek, was kind enough to supply the answers. Due to his quick response and the delay in the review process, I decided to go ahead and post the interview seperately a couple of weeks ago and as part of the review now.
nV News: Give us a little history on VisionTek in general, and VisionTek's relationship with NVIDIA.
John: In 1988, four friends started a small DRAM brokerage based in a Chicago apartment. From there, VisionTek quickly became a leading manufacturer, developer, and supplier of graphics cards, value-added memory, and peripheral product solutions for original equipment manufacturers, as well as electronics manufacturers, IS professionals and their channel partners. Our headquarters are located Gurnee, Illinois, and we are a global supplier, shipping to Europe and Asia as well as the U.S.
We use industry-leading NVIDIA chipsets in all of our graphics products. We work closely with NVIDIA to ensure new products are brought to market as fast as possible for our customers.
nV News: I think our readers would be surprised by the number of OEM's and card vendors that use the VisionTek cards. Can you comment on the number of companies you supply, and are there any you can mention?
John: VisionTek designs and manufactures graphics accelerators for leading OEMs such as Compaq, Gateway, IBM, and Micron, to name a few. We also work with numerous well-known resellers, distributors, system integrators and system builders.
nV News: I have a VisionTek 64MB GeForce2 that came with my Alienware system. How important is it to VisionTek to have "wins" in the hardcore gaming machines?
John: Well, let me start by saying that ALL "wins" are important to us! However, the gaming community is very important to us in that hard core gamers tend to be very particular and knowledgeable about the hardware they have in their machines. So when a gamer chooses VisionTek products, we feel proud that our quality and performance have been recognized and appreciated over other choices out there. For several years now, VisionTek has been "quietly" creating killer state-of-the-art video cards that end up in all sorts of end user machines, including those of the hard core gamers. In spite of the fact that we have little to no retail presence yet, we have developed quite a following of dedicated users in the gaming community, and we love it!
nV News: VisionTek seems to be making a real push towards retail. Why now?
John: There is a wider market for retail cards now that 3DFX and Diamond are exiting the channel.
nV News: Your website mentions that the VT Ultra will have SVGA and S-Video out as an option. My review unit also has DVI. Will all VT Ultras have flat panel support? Are the S-Video and DVI out an option that can be removed to cut the retail cost?
John: We currently have three SKU's for our 64MB VisionTek GeForce2 Ultra; VGA + TV (S-Video), VGA + DVI-I + TV, and VGA + DVI-I. So, if you don't want or need flat panel support or TV out, you have some options.
nV News: It seems you followed the reference design very closely. Have you had any problems with interference at certain resolutions and refresh rate settings experienced by a number of Ultra owners?
John: Our tech support guys are unaware of our customers experiencing interference at certain resolutions or refresh rates when using the VisionTek GeForce2 Ultra card. If this is occurring, tech support says this may be attributed to the variance of "leaked" beta driver versions available on the Internet.
nV News: Follow-up, How extensive is your testing of the new cards? Well known retail card makers pride themselves on their testing before release, often boasting their testing is more thorough then other "OEM makers".
John: Our tests are consistent with those from NVIDIA. In addition to our own component qualification, our products are submitted to NVIDIA and for WHQL (Windows Hardware Qualification Lab) certification for OEMs. The channel version of our products are not submitted, but are built according to the same Bills Of Material and AVL (Approved Vendor List).
nV News: Price will definitely be a determining factor for your Ultra offering. What level of support comes at that price?
John: A three-year warranty and the support of our expert technical support professionals back VisionTek's 3D Graphics accelerators.
nV News: A quick comment on Tech Support. Go take a look at their site's Graphics Support Site and I think any concerns of support will be erased.
nV News: When can we expect to see VisionTek Ultras on major retail shelves?
John: As soon as we can get everything in order, hopefully this year.
nV News: How does VisionTek's experience in the memory market affect PCB construction of the Ultra?
John: The two most important components in a graphics accelerator are the graphics and memory chips. Our core-competency is in memory products, so when you combine our memory expertise with NVIDIA's leading-edge chipsets, we can quickly provide powerful and cost efficient graphics accelerator boards like
nV News: My sample has overclocked very well. Does VisionTek want to take credit or have memory yields improved?
John: We can't officially recognize over-clocking these products as this voids our warranty. However, we can mention that we provide "scalable" architectures.
nV News: What's next for VisionTek? Motherboards? DDR memory? Sound cards?
John: Along with our memory and graphics products, we recently introduced 1394 interface cards. Modems, sound cards, DDR memory, etc., are all avenues we are pursuing. We are always ready and able to build any PCB-based products that our customers want.
nV News: What are your thoughts on the 3dfx buyout by NVIDIA and future VisionTek products?
John: It is always sad to see a competitor exit the market, but I think it is a great opportunity for VisionTek to enter the retail market.
nV News: What can you tell us about the next generation? There were several rumors flying that Gateway would be the first to carry the NV20 based VisionTek card and that it could be as soon as next month.
John: All I can say at this time is that VisionTek is determined to make our customers first to market with all new products, especially an exciting new product such as the NV20. If you are impressed by the Ultra, wait 'til you see the NV20! Stay tuned...
nV News: Any involvement in X-Box or other consoles?
John: Not at this time.
nV News: Where do you want VisionTek to be (engineering and corporate) in five years?
John: Five years is a long time in this business, but we want to continue the ascent to the top of a long list of leaders in the Electrical Manufacturing Services (EMS) sector. By focussing on world-class manufacturing,customer support, and innovative customer solutions, we will continue to give a first-to-market edge to our OEM and Distribution clientele.
I would like to thank John for taking the time to answer our questions.
VisionTek has certainly stepped up to the plate. They see the oppurtunity, now that competion has tightened a bit, to step into the reatil market and make themselves known to more than just happy system builders and bargain seeking gamers.
On to some benchmarks...
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