3D Graphics Cards

Earlier this week,I posted a message asking for assistance on enhancing my OpenGL application. Thanks to all who responded. I’ve since decided to hold off on buying a new system and just add a graphics card for OpenGL acceleration.

Once again, the specs for my system are:
Pentium 166mhz w/48M RAM, PCI bus.

I had contemplated getting a graphics card with 32M RAM, but was told my system would not make full use of that. That leaves me with either an 8M or 16M card. If that advice was correct, how much RAM should I go for? Is 8 enough, or would I be able to take full advantage of the 16M? In addition, what features should I be looking for in a card besides Transform & Lighting?

Thanks again.

I don’t think you can even buy a HT&L card with less than 32 megs of ram.

I guess maybe a TNT2 Vanta or something like that would be an ok match for your system. You could probably find one for about 50 bucks or less. Software T&L, though.


I pretty much agree. A TNT2 or ATI Rage Pro should give you a performance boost of at least 20 times the speed the software renderer will run on your system. I think you’ll be happy with that for a while
As for the system not using the 32MB of RAM, that’s new to me - from what I understand, the usage of video-RAM is up to the driver and hence, even a 64MB PCI Radeon should work on your system and use the full amount of video RAM - there might be an issue with the PCI bus and the drivers for it on your system, but I’m not a hardware guy so I really can’t tell

My suggestion: try to get a TNT2/Rage Pro class card where you can give it back if it doesn’t work in your system. Once you get around to buy a new system, you will be able to further use the graphics card (if the new computer doesn’t come with a better one) so the money wouldn’t be thrown out of the window.

There is now a PCI version of the Radeon out there.

Well, textures still take up space in system memory (and most GL drivers are memory hogs). It’s probably wasteful to get more video memory than you have system memory.

Being biased, I suggest a 32MB GF2MX PCI. It’s plenty cheap and will allow you to use newfangled features; at the same time, if you upgrade the whole system later, it won’t be underwhelming, and you could still use it.

  • Matt

Geforce2 mx pci will set you back $80 to $100 on pricewatch.com. For that money you can buy $40 kx133 motherboard + $50 750mhz athlon. Also pci runs at 33mhz while agp runs at 66mhz. I think the best is to save some money and invest in a new setup later. The pci bus will hamper you, I think.

With a new system your compile times will rapidly decrease and the whole system will be snappy

[This message has been edited by JD (edited 05-19-2001).]

First of all, just to correct something - don’t get the Rage Pro. The equivalent of the TNT family is Rage 128 or Rage 128 Pro, not Rage Pro, which is older and considerably worse for OpenGL. But I couldn’t find a cheap Rage 128 PCI card on pricewatch, so this doesn’t really matter.

Checking pricewatch, the lowest cost 8MB TNT family card costs $27+shipping, the 16MB costs $41+shipping. 32MB costs $53+shipping (shipping does vary considerably, so check it out). So the price difference between 32 and 16 is smaller than for 16 vs. 8, for some reason.

8MB can get a little cramped, since at the very least you need to keep a front buffer, buck buffer and Z(/stencil) buffer. For example, a 1024x768 resolution with 32 bit colour takes 9MB - more than an 8MB card will support. But 800x600x16bit will take about 2.75MB, leaving you quite a bit of space for textures. But you only have hardware stencil buffer support in 32 bit mode, which could be a problem.

So basically, 16MB will enable to free you from doing calculations such as the above, while 8MB will be enough if you’re willing to limit yourself.

In general, I’d say that the 8MB version will be good enough. The reason is mainly the computer you’re using, which is definitely not a very good development computer. Most of what you’ll be doing will likely be writing small programs, and you probably won’t mind using low resolutions (especially considering that you now have a 2MB card, AFAICR, and probably a small monitor to match). So the limited card shouldn’t be that much of a problem.

Once you upgrade your system, you’ll probably want to get a better AGP card, anyway (and they are cheaper than PCI - $48+shipping will buy you a 32MB GeForce SDR). You’ll lose a little less money by going for the cheapest decent accelerator now (the 8MB TNT).

That’s just IMO. I always think like this when I buy my own equipment, and end up being tempted by more expensive stuff, and buying that instead of what I planned

But basically, since $200 or so will almost buy you a new computer, I think that you should either go for that, or go for the minimum. Next time, just save a couple hundred dollars for a rainy day

I would suggest upgrading the computer as a whole as well. You’ll get improved performance in all your applications.

My personal suggestion is a good speed Duron motherboard (which is also Athlon Thunderbird compatible), a Duron processor, 128MB of RAM (PC133 if the motherboard supports it), and either a GeForce256 or, if you can afford it, a GeForce2MX.

>> That’s just IMO. I always think like this when I buy my own equipment, and end up being tempted by more expensive stuff, and buying that instead of what I planned <<

I too fall into that black hole, it never fails If I just add a buck here I’ll get better stuff, but maybe another two will make it much better, ahh I’ll just add ten more and will be current

I find the cost of pci ridiculous when compared to agp. Especially the Eagle Geforce 256 for ~$50. Tnt2 m64 16-32mb cost that much and you don’t even get hw t&l that could actually help the cpu a little. Oh, well just another crazy day in computer lala land

Try to get an EDO upgrade sometime Old techs cost more. A matter of scale of production, I guess. That’s why if you have a really old system (like ksanim’s), it’s worth doing a major swap instead of upgrading single components.

[This message has been edited by ET3D (edited 05-19-2001).]