Have you ever had the feeling that you're being sold something you really don't need?  Whether it's a car salesmen trying to get you to buy a new car with an air-conditioned glove compartment, or a video card manufacturer trying to give you stellar Quake 2 performance when all you need is video card for your word processor, it does happen and we all go through it.

Since its release, nVidia's TNT chipset has become a little more than a 2D/3D card for gamers.  It seems as if the TNT is being crammed down everyone's throat, even if they have no intention of touching a frame of Quake 2 or even picking up the crowbar in Half-Life.  Now, the TNT is a fairly affordable graphics solution considering it is a 2D/3D combo card, and its success is good news for nVidia.  Being a successful chipset isn't a bad thing, where the TNT does get a bad reputation is when someone with a 21" monitor unravels the TNT's dark secret and tries to run their card at 1600 x 1200 x 32bpp under Windows.  Look around the newsgroups, ask TNT owners, or try it for yourself, the TNT as well as many other 2D/3D combo cards don't provide the best 2D image quality when it comes to driving large monitors (i.e. 21") at high resolutions.  The most common occurrence being that when viewing black text on a white background (or vise versa), the characters will begin to seem a bit fuzzy, and, especially after hours of staring at the screen, your eyes will begin to feel the wrath of a poorly constructed card. 

Keep in mind that this scenario only really affects those with larger monitors running at resolutions above 1024 x 768 (most likely above 1280 x 1024).  The assumption being made here by most manufacturers is that their customers won't use their products for professional purposes (i.e. intensive image editing, publishing, etc...) and as long as their 2D quality and performance is top notch at resolutions under 1280 x 1024 (which most users do tend to stay under, simply due to monitor sizes), they'll be perfectly fine.  This holds true in a great percentage of the cases, which is why you'll hear people saying that the 2D image quality on the TNT or on the Savage3D is "top-notch" or "beautiful."  However, when you happen to push your TNT card to the limits at 1600 x 1200, or when you give the Savage3D a run for its money at the same resolution, and you see some "fuzzy" text, it's quite difficult to believe that just about every single TNT/Savage3D owner out there could be wrong in saying that the 2D image quality is astounding...but in your case, they are. 

The reason behind this is simple, in order to cut costs, the amount of filters placed between the analog VGA output on your video card and the RAMDAC are cut down to the bare minimum.  This sacrifice is made simply because of the assumption made above. 

Quality at its best

Since most of these cards will be used for 3D games, and since there isn't a next-generation 2D/3D combo card out there capable of running any 3D game at 1600 x 1200 in a high performing fashion, most manufacturers figure that it's better to keep costs low and satisfy a greater percentage of the population than increase the costs to satisfy a smaller percentage.  That is the unfortunate truth, however if you're a gamer, using a 15" or maybe even a 17" monitor, chances are that you'd rather pay $130 for a card that suits your needs instead of paying $160 for a card that suits your needs as well as your neighbor with a 21" monitor.  At the same time, if you put yourself in the shoes of your neighbor with the 21" monitor, chances are that your neighbor would rather pay $160 for a card that does everything they need it to do rather than pay $130 for a card of noticeably lesser quality. 

It all depends on your perspective as a consumer, and instead of allowing users to have two options (a professional and a home use version) most manufacturers will go after the "one-size fits all" market and hope to succeed.  Matrox attempted to more clearly define the line between professional/corporate markets and the home/gaming arenas with their Millennium/Mystique G200's, however as many professionals will tell you, sometimes they want a little more.  Here's where Number 9 comes in with the Revolution IV.

By leaving the hardcore gaming population out of their target market, #9 eliminated many areas for screw-ups with their card.  Often times you'll see a 2D/3D card which is, by itself, a strong performer, but against the competition, a poor choice due to the competition's ability to cater to the needs of the gamer alone.  A perfect example of this would be the manhunt for the elusive Voodoo2 killer which took place earlier this year.  It seemed as if every upcoming or newly released graphics chipset was going to fail completely if it couldn't compete with the amazing 3D performance of 3Dfx's Voodoo2 chipset, and because of that comparison many manufacturers were greatly weakened simply due to the fact that they attempted to focus on too broad of an audience.  By avoiding making that mistake, #9 could more completely concentrate on their specific market, professionals and corporations.

Check your tickets please it's time for the specs Installation
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  • FelixDeKat - Saturday, January 18, 2014 - link

    Good review. I was at Babbages the other day and decided to buy a Diamond Viper instead.
  • ReservoirPenguin - Sunday, November 6, 2022 - link

    Not a very good review. Unless I'm blind (or its covered by ads) I can't find the benchmark results anywhere. How am I supposed to know if this card is good for Quake2?

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