||nVidia RIVA 128
||4mg 100mhz SGRAM
Outstanding 2D acceleration , excellent 3D acceleration,
Good price , fastest Direct3D ,scales with CPU , great bang for buck.
Image Quality problems. Supports only 4 megabytes of video
RAM , scales with CPU , poor OpenGL support.
(note ,JPG compression somewhat
| STB's Velocity 128 is the
ultimate Direct3D powerhouse. Based on the RIVA chipset from nVidia , this
baby is packed with 4 megabytes of high-speed (100mhz) 128bit ported SGRAM
and a 230mhz RAMDAC capable of 1600x1200 resolution. The Velocity 128 is
the definition of power. The 100mhz SGRAM in the Velocity is capable of
bandwidth in excess of 1.6gig/sec! over 2x as much as the standard 64bit
ported 100mhz SGRAM. This high bandwidth is one of the many reasons the
Velocity 128 is capable of outperforming the competition in standard 2D
, DirectDraw , and of course , Direct3D. Overall , the Velocity 128 is
a very impressive card. It combines 2D speed rivaling that of the Millennium
II , the fastest Direct3D acceleration I have seen , and enough heat to
hard boil an egg in two minutes! Perhaps the fact that the RIVA chipset
has more transistors than a Pentium Classic may attribute to this interesting
"phenomenon". Exactly how fast is this Velocity 128 in Direct3D? Well ,
to put it simply , very. On a slow poor gaming system (6x86pr200 no MMX)
, the Velocity managed to spew forth 19.6 800x600x16bit Direct3D accelerated
frames in a second in the Turok demo! Considering the RIVA chipest scales
with CPU power , this number is quite impressive. In Jedi Knight Demo ,
the Velocity 128 3D runs at an average of 28-30fps at 800x600 resolution
, nothing short of blazing fast! The 2D performance of this card is simply
mind boggling as well. (see Benchmark Page).
The Velocity 128 , though blazing fast
in both 2D and 3D , leaves quite a lot to be desired. First of all , the
image quality of the Velocity 128 is not up to par with some of its competitors
, such as the Monster 3D , or Thriller 3D. It lacks proper anti-alaising
and displays a pretty serious problem when moving around in the levels
of the Jedi Knight Demo. (It is possible to see the MIP mapping take effect
, i.e. the textures are changing as the player moves around.) Before
this week (2/7) , the RIVA cards OpenGL drivers were in Alpha stage. However
, this has now changed. The new Beta drivers yield a significant advantage
over the previous alpha versions. The frame-rate increase on my low-end
system was 1.5 (7.6-9.1) , using 5mb of system memory for texture storage.
This number could have easily been increased by using more memory. (probably
increased to around 10.5-11 , ill try it sometime today or tomorrow) While
1.5fps may seem like it isn't that much , it was achieved using conservative
texture RAM usage , and it is still a 20% increase , which isn't a little
at all. Even though speed was improved , image quality wasn't really changed.
The darkness problem still exists , however , the documentation explains
some ugly ways of fixing this. (Changing some registry values). You can
still use the lines of code Alf sent me a while ago:
set intensity "2"
set gl_ext_gamma "3"
set gl_modulate "2"
set video_gamma ".7"
The guys at nVidia have really done a great job with these new drivers.
We can expect even better performance in OpenGL in the future, when
real , non-beta drivers are released. Another not so serious problem with
the Velocity 128 is the "slow boot" problem. This can be fixed by removing
Vision98 (which I recommend :) and disabling the 'Automatically detect
PnP Monitor' option. All in all , the Velocity 128 is an excellent board
, and at 129$ it ranks as one of the best bang for buck deals available.
With the 2D of the millennium II , improved OpenGL support , and Direct3D
acceleration which is second to none , the Velocity 128 is an excellent
card , at an excellent price.