The [H]ardforum video card all time power ranking poll nomination thread.

jlbenedict

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I know I voted Voodoo 2...and while probably not near the top of the list (but has been mentioned)-
Nvidia GTX 9x0 series
 

Armenius

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9700 9800 pro has to be #1. GTX 8800 was a great card, but I think 8800 GT was a better card in terms of price/performance. The Radeon 4850/4870 were the most underrated cards of all time considering the price / power / performance relative to Nvidia at the time. Best modern card has to be the 1080 ti.
The 8800 GT wouldn't exist without the GTX. Bottom line is that G80 and the rest of the Tesla architecture allowed NVIDIA to rest on their laurels for four years, causing them to get complacent and releasing the Fermi turd.
 

cpufrost

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3dfx Voodoo2 SLI

1024x768 at over 60fps in 1998-1999 in Quake 2 and Quake 3 Arena

The old days!

Honorary Mention: Tseng ET4000 VLB (VESA Local Bus, pre-AGP!) scorchingly fast at VGA and ran DOOM at 35fps reliably on a mere 486DX2-66 in 1993-1994. Before Matrox Millennium (Honorary Mention #2) came out!

I remember those Tseng cards! And VLB! Nothing ran flying toasters (After Dark) and cards falling at beating solitaire faster on our Dell 486/33 desktops at work. This was mid 1994 IIRC.

RE: Voodoo and Voodoo2...loved the speed of glide but hated the messed up fuzzy text caused by passing the output through them in 2D mode. At the time I was using a Matrox Millennium II with 8MB WRAM and at 1600x1200 at 85Hz it was tack sharp. Putting the V2 in line turned it into a fuzzy mess on the desktop. Even 100Hz at 1280x1024 was a mess. I was using a Hitachi 21" CRT at the time (from a SGI workstation, used a RGB input via 13W3).

And 1080ti cards! Wow still going strong after all these years. Paul Simon would approve. ;-)

I had a 9700 pro and would agree it was fast but played a game called Giants that locked up tighter than DC right now every time I played it. Hated it for that.
 
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I’m thinking about retracting my statement but only because I’ve realized that long have I forgotten about the transition from software rendering to dedicated 3D accelerators. There aren’t really words that described switching from a time of only 2d graphics to hardware accelerated 3d graphics.

My first 3d card purchase was a creative 8meg voodoo 2 but a year or so earlier I gamed on a friends voodoo 1 and I was blown away.

It’s hard to really pinpoint which card of that era could be the greatest of all time because that would be like suggesting the first car ever is the greatest because before then there were none.

Regardless, aside from my first 3d accelerated experiences, G80 created an era within the 3d gaming era. I would consider it the grandfather of the modern gpu.
 
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Chief Blur Buster

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I remember those Tseng cards! And VLB! Nothing ran flying toasters (After Dark) and cards falling at beating solitaire faster on our Dell 486/33 desktops at work. This was mid 1994 IIRC.

RE: Voodoo and Voodoo2...loved the speed of glide but hated the messed up fuzzy text caused by passing the output through them in 2D mode. At the time I was using a Matrox Millennium II with 8MB WRAM and at 1600x1200 at 85Hz it was tack sharp. Putting the V2 in line turned it into a fuzzy mess on the desktop. Even 100Hz at 1280x1024 was a mess. I was using a Hitachi 21" CRT at the time (from a SGI workstation, used a RGB input via 13W3).

And 1080ti cards! Wow still going strong after all these years. Paul Simon would approve. ;-)

I had a 9700 pro and would agree it was fast but played a game called Giants that locked up tighter than DC right now every time I played it. Hated it for that.

Almost twenty-five years ago -- year 1997 -- I submitted this image to Operation 3.D.F.X. which published it.

I'm the creator of this famous GLQuake versus image:

quake-split.jpg


My image quickly spread beyond Operation 3.D.F.X. to other websites and channels, I think Voodoo Extreme also caught it too. I recall it was also published in one physical gaming magaine (can't remember which). It was seen by tens millions back in the day, and probably sold a lot of 3dfx cards back in their day. The website moved to a different domain name (marky.ca) and now an archival site, but it still has the Quake 2 versus screenshots (also famous too). I was not long past my teenage years at the time, so I apologize about the Comic San Ms font (I'll atone at the gates to heven). :)

My image still turns up randomly in various places such as academic papers or in reddit nostagilia channels (as recently as only 3 years ago!).

To me, 3dfx still holds dear to my heart in how it catapulted 3D graphics by an order of magnitude. R.I.P.

EDIT: Holey moley, many [H] members still remembers this image!
 
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N4CR

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8800s had major BGA solder issues though. Great cards, IF they lasted.

7970 is my pick for modern cards. My heavily OC'd (1.3GHz) one beat the next generation too, enough said.
1080Ti I think also needs honorable mention.
9700 Pro for obvious reasons.
 

AltTabbins

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An honorable mention that hasn’t been brought up yet - AMD hd 6950 flashed to 6970.
 
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I’m gonna have to say 8800 GTX. There is simply no other card that comes to mind that was so dominant for so long. The feature set was state of the art, the cooling system was fairly exotic at the time, and ATi simply could not touch it for years. I’ve been in the game since the first 3D cards and without a doubt G80 was absolutely amazing.

Runner up is easily 9700/9800 pro/xt. R300 smacked Nvidia hard and R350 and R360 continued the pummeling. Trouble is, back in those days the next gen was always only ever about 6 months away and nvidia soon enough had the 6 series out which was an excellent comeback for the green team.

Ah great memories. It's also amazing how our standards have gone up over time. Everyone complains a 3090 can barely do 45fps at 4K with Cyberpunk with RT off.

Back when the 8800 GTX came out, buying an 8800 GTX could get you around 32fps at 19x12 with the flagship AAA game of the time, Oblivion, and this was with MSAA off (about as crippling a setting in its day as RT is now). Back then, getting 30fps with a new flagship card with the top games at 1920x1200 was considered the benchmark.

Nowadays if you can't get 4K60 with the newest cards people think its a failure :D
 

Armenius

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8800s had major BGA solder issues though. Great cards, IF they lasted.

7970 is my pick for modern cards. My heavily OC'd (1.3GHz) one beat the next generation too, enough said.
1080Ti I think also needs honorable mention.
9700 Pro for obvious reasons.
My pair of 8800 GTX lasted almost 7 years before dying. It is the longest stretch I've gone without a video card upgrade. I wouldn't be surprised if giving the GPU a reflow would bring them back to life. Lead-free solder can go to hell.
 

Tactlesss

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I’m thinking about retracting my statement but only because I’ve realized that long have I forgotten about the transition from software rendering to dedicated 3D accelerators. There aren’t really words that described switching from a time of only 2d graphics to hardware accelerated 3d graphics.

My first 3d card purchase was a creative 8meg voodoo 2 but a year or so earlier I gamed on a friends voodoo 1 and I was blown away.

It’s hard to really pinpoint which card of that era could be the greatest of all time because that would be like suggesting the first car ever is the greatest because before then there were none.

Regardless, aside from my first 3d accelerated experiences, G80 created an era within the 3d gaming era. I would consider it the grandfather of the modern gpu.
Ditto except I was still using a Tseng Labs card up until I could convince my parents that a Geforce 256 32MB SDR would help my school work.
The 8800GTX was just out of my price range so I settled on the 640 MB GTS. And how else would I be able to afford Vista Ultimate for playing Crysis on a 64 bit athlon 64?
I didn't (couldn't afford) need to upgrade that card for years.
 
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I going to put in a vote for the 9800pro. I may be nostalgic here but I replaced a TNT2 with that card in 2001, iirc, and it lasted me until I replaced it with an 8800gts. That is 5 good years of service, what a card. I recall driver updates making high end games playable for years. Doom 3 on highest settings comes to mind.
 
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Radeon hasnt done anything very interesting since then, which leaves us to remaining Nvidia cards as yet unmentioned, so let me say the original GTX Titan
So I really wanted to mention the Titan because it was the most expensive card I ever bought at the time, and was the first time I bought the bleeding edge card. And then just a few months later it was made obsolete by the 780ti. It was a good card for me, used for several years and replaced with a 980ti, but for that reason I could not nominate it.
 

Krenum

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#1 Radeon 9800 Pro / All in Wonder
#2 Voodoo 2
#3 Geforce 256

/Thread

You're welcome.
 

chithanh

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1) PowerVR Kyro 2
2) ATI Radeon 9700 Pro
3) 3dfx Voodoo 2

The Kyro 2 was my favourite card. Unfortunately the Linux driver situation sucked. But it was able to outperform vastly more expensive cards from the competition in a number of games. It was so good that it provoked NVidia to reveal their true self by spreading lies and FUD and using other underhanded tactics (article in German) against PowerVR. While PowerVR is no longer making desktop GPUs, I guess NVidia never really changed in all those years.

04-06a-pic1.gif


The other cards I did not own myself, but was quite impressed by them.
 

mvmiller12

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My FAVORITE video card that I ever purchased was my Matrox Millenium G400. They had ridiculous RAMDACs on them, and the picture quality they could put out even made the shitty "fishbowl" monitor we had in the shop look good. I have read for years about people expressing picture quality issues with Voodoo1 and Voodoo2 cards due to the dongle, but honestly I NEVER noticed any image degradation on my system with the G400 piped through the Voodoo.

G400 and Voodoo2 SLI were the penultimate in gaming, sirs.
 

Endgame

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No card can beat the voodoo 2 - I blew a sizable portion of my high school summer work money on a pentium 2 400 and SLI diamond stealth monster voodoo 2 12mb cards. Nothing was as crazy awesome, night and day as quake 2 running on those voodoo 2s. Time has blurred things together , but I recall playing unreal, unreal tournament, Mechwarrior 2 all on that P2 400. It’s amazing I got decent grades - I must not have slept for more than 4 hours a night for months after I got that PC.
 

cpufrost

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^^^ Yes to all above. I never see the Riva TNT 2 series get mentioned much? Was a pretty popular AGP chip.

I had a 32MB Creative Labs TNT2 Ultra from 1999. A few months later the SDRAM version of GeForce256 came out. Sigh. I bought one but regretted it, near year end got a CL Annihilator Pro which had DDR. Much better. Elsa (remember them?) had their version called Gladiac. Later in 2000 got the 64MB Prophet II which was a neat looking card with blue heatsinks glued to the DDR chips...

Biggest thing on Voodoo3 3000 vs. TNT2 Ultra was the texture size. Q3 looked really bad on V3 compared to TNT2 Ultra. Voodoo3 3000 had better 2D.
 

GiGaBiTe

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I’ll say Voodoo Banshee - the first card to combine 3D an 2d acceleration in one product. Pretty earth shattering at the time.

If you mean 2D and 3D on a single card, that award goes to the Voodoo Rush. It was a dreadful card which put the Voodoo1 TMU and FBI behind the 2D chip and was accessed through linked registers on the 2D chip, either a Alliance or Hercules 2D core. This resulted in a stiff performance penalty, and later versions of the card were slightly overclocked to make up the difference. The Banshee was the first integrated 2D and 3D core on one piece of silicon for 3dfx.

Wasn't the 9800 Pro just a slightly faster 9700 Pro with some optimizations?

The 9800 uses the R350 core, which is a further optimized version of the R300 core the 9700 used.
 

oldmanbal

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Wasn't the 9800 Pro just a slightly faster 9700 Pro with some optimizations?

If you mean 2D and 3D on a single card, that award goes to the Voodoo Rush. It was a dreadful card which put the Voodoo1 TMU and FBI behind the 2D chip and was accessed through linked registers on the 2D chip, either a Alliance or Hercules 2D core. This resulted in a stiff performance penalty, and later versions of the card were slightly overclocked to make up the difference. The Banshee was the first integrated 2D and 3D core on one piece of silicon for 3dfx.



The 9800 uses the R350 core, which is a further optimized version of the R300 core the 9700 used.

I'm no expert but, if you want to be that reductive than you could disqualify most of the cards in this thread thinking that.
the 9700pro, when it dropped was a thermonuclear bomb in the GPU arena. It was so powerful, at a time where gpus were just starting to inch forward in resolution, and the now relegated MSAA ability to take away jagged lines. It was the first time, in videocard history, that you could actually kick on 4x or even 8x msaa and still get playable framerates at high resolutions. To talk about how game changing at the time this was, is hard to express for todays newer generations of pc gamers. The 9700pro actually gave you substantially game changing visual improvements in textures at higher resolutions, removal of jagged edges, and overall resolution. Nowadays new gpus simply offer slightly more fps compared to last gen with everything looking identical. There are no new 'wow' moments left when slotting in a new GPU, compared to measurements of old. Having a few more fps can't hold a candle to the massive visual overhaul the 9700pro ushered in for pc gaming.

Now many will argue that other older cards had similar experience, visual leaps, but for me, when I loaded up the first game with a 9700pro, and was able to keep turning up the resolution and AA, it was nothing short of a miracle in pc gaming.
 

greyboxer

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reading 9800 pro reviews, it was barely faster than the last gen and the next nvidia card easily beat it. not sure why its on the list other than may be being affordable? Except adjusted for inflation, it was a $500 card.
 

GiGaBiTe

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reading 9800 pro reviews, it was barely faster than the last gen and the next nvidia card easily beat it. not sure why its on the list other than may be being affordable? Except adjusted for inflation, it was a $500 card.

The Radeon 9800 XT crushed anything Nvidia had to offer until the Geforce 6 series. Even the pinnacle of the Geforce FX series, the PCX 5950 was soundly outperformed in DX 9.0 games. Nvidia made a fatal error in the design of the FX series core when it came to Direct X 9.0 shaders, optimizing them for 16 bit shader code when DX 9.0 required 24 and later 32 bit shader code. This made the entire FX line have a stiff performance penalty when running DX 9.0 games, which is why many games at the time had Nvidia cards fall back to a DX 8 rendering path to avoid having severe performance penalties.

The Geforce 6 series was a whole lot better, but it's not really valid to compare the Radeon 9800 to it because they were from different generations of cards. The Radeon x800/x850 were direct competitors to the Geforce 6 series and did well for the most part.
 
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The best I've had was GTX660 in SLI, it was faster than a 680 ultra, and didn't cost me half the price.
Second is the Radeon 5850, because it served me almost 3 years without having to upgrade.
You make a good point. I miss the days when you could actually save money and increase performance by buying two video cards. SLI was a value proposition, imagine that!
 

lopoetve

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Voodoo 2
9700 Pro
8800GTX
1080 Series

In that order. The Voodoo 2 made 3d gaming the thing to talk about - even more than the 1 did. 9700 Pro made for a true 2 vendor race for a goodly bit. 8800GTX - amazing for the time. Pascal because of how long it lasted. I ALMOST went Geforce3 for the 8800 line though. But that was long enough ago I don't know if it was ME that loved it so much, or the market.
 

lopoetve

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This was the card that changed it all!
Then the voodoo3 &4 followed suit! There would literally be no Nvidea had it not been for 3DFX Period.
Oddly enough, the first Nvidia card (NV1) came out BEFORE the Voodoo 1 did (by half a year). The concept was rumbling around - the NV1 just sucked, badly.
 

Sir Beregond

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When I think all time greats, the following come to mind through the years.

Voodoo 2, Radeon 9700 Pro, 8800 GTX, HD 7970 (mature version), GTX 1080 Ti.
 

LZ_Xray

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I’ll jump on his train:

3dfx Voodoo 2. I never had one, but probably the most influential card of them all.
Nvidia 8800 GTX. Did have one, which gave me little reason to upgrade till almost 2010.

No strong opinion on any others.
 

w1retap

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8800 GTX SLI -- obviously these cards held the market for years. I had mine through at least 3 builds, then just recently built this C2Q build for the sake of saving the moment.
hB93rMj.jpg

Voodoo 2 SLI -- 1024x768 gaming -- yes please. Glide just looked best, and the performance was good all the way through '99. Built this rig recently, because 3DFX is the grandfather of 3D accelerated gaming. Even arcade cabinets used the Voodoo 2.
iUhSLL7.jpg

GeForce 2 Ultra -- another card I used for years. I believe it was my next replacement after 3DFX Voodoo's. This pic was just testing out functionality on a Pentium III 500MHz build that I have.
ltywni6.jpg
 
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DejaWiz

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Ah, where to begin? There are so many great GPUs to choose from!

3Dfx V1 followed by V2
nVidia TnT2 Ultra
GeForce 256 DDR
Radeon 9800XT
GeForce 8800GTX
Radeon 290X (that thing can match the first gen Titan and GTX 970!)
GTX 980Ti
GTX 1080Ti
Radeon Vega64
Radeon VII
Radeon RX 5700XT
Radeon 6000 series
RTX 3000 series
 

Bomber

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I gotta gold old school on this. TNT2 or Voodoo2 as the GOAT. Both set the stage for everything we take advantage of today. T&L and Glide were both way more than marketing
 

XacTactX

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Everyone else has already listed the most important/best GPUs so I'm going to give an honorable mention to the GTX 460 because it's monster overclocking headroom and because it gave the benefits of the Fermi architecture and good tessellation performance without having the power/heat/noise problems of the GTX 470/480.

Check out this GTX 460, it went from stock 675 / 900 up to 905 / 1045 and it almost caught the GTX 480.

perf_oc.gif
 

Krenum

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Ah, where to begin? There are so many great GPUs to choose from!



Radeon Vega64
Radeon VII
Radeon RX 5700XT
Radeon 6000 series
RTX 3000 series

Vega64 and Radeon VII were TERRIBLE.

RX6000, 5xxx and Nvidia 3000 series won't ever be etched into history. Atleast history worth remembering.
 
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