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Date of review: 27-October-2000
Type Of Review: Videocards
Over the years, Nvidia has grown to dominate the 3D graphics card industry. With their strong marketing arm and open licensing policies, their line of graphics card products have expanded exponentially. Despite announcing the imminence of the NV20, their recently launched GeForce 2 Ultra chipset represents yet another addition to that list and comes under scrutiny today.
Leading PC multimedia manufacturer - Creative Technology, Ltd, was gracious enough to loan us their soon-to-be-released 3D Blaster GeForce 2 Ultra for evaluation. This comes complete with 64MB of DDR memory set at a default speed of 460MHz!! As denoted by "Ultra", this latest variant resembles a faster GeForce 2 chipset paired with speedier memory.
Front View of the Card
The Card And Bundle
Based on Nvidia's reference design, the 3D Blaster GF2 Ultra houses enormous heatsinks to cool the DDR memory. The Ultra typically builds upon the features of its GeForce 2 predecessor, by simply running at a higher speed of 250MHz. Notably, the onchip fan/heatsink combo comes straight from Nvidia, albeit detracting slightly from that used on the reference board.
The packaged bundle simply consists of a copy of WinDVD 2000, together with the usual manual and software drivers. This economical offering was undoubtedly employed to keep retail prices down. However, Creative has thoughtfully incorporated a memory tweaking facility via an Enhanced Blaster Control panel applet.
Overclocking And Benchmarks
Using the bundled utility, I managed to overclock the memory to 503MHz stably, which represents a 8.7% increase!! But as no core adjustment was allowed, I simply compared a 460MHz vs 500MHz memory setting for all subsequent benchmarks. Both OS compatibility and Anti-Aliasing impact were also examined.
On benchmarking, the card proved to be the fastest ever to hit the HW1 workshops. With Quake 3 Arena frame-rates (infering OpenGL performance) reaching well over 100fps for even 1024x768/32bit, this card is undoubtedly THE fastest in the market.
Astounding results in Quake 3 Arena!!
Similarly, Direct3D speeds were unparalleled, as exhibited by unprecedented fill-rates and scores in both 3D Winbench 200 and 3D Mark 2000. In all cases, the overclocked memory settings offered tandem improvements in speed, which alludes to memory bandwidth as the predominant determinant in performance.
In Win2K, no problems were exhibited, albeit immature drivers may likely have caused degraded D3D performance. Utilizing Full Screen Anti-Aliasing, although the card puts up an exemplary show, it still fails to realize playable frame-rates at 1024x768 resolution and above.
Undeniably, the 3D Blaster GF2 Ultra is exceedingly fast and topples the competition without difficulty. With performance that boasts playable frame-rates even at 1600x1200 resolution, this card makes it a viable proposition for hard-core gamers with large screens. Notwithstanding its slightly hefty price of S$799 (US$499) or thereabouts, Creative's GF2 Ultra probably represents the most economical Ultra offering in the market today. Based on its merits, the 3D Blaster GeForce 2 Ultra unassumingly receives our HW1 Performance Pick award.
For the full review, click here.