The 3d-graphics area has been very turbulent for a year of three now, and probably has been the major area of improvement for PCs, in that period, especially if you are interested in playing games. At the rate until now, every half year, a new crop of game-cards was introduced, that almost doubled the number of polygons per second (this is the generally accepted measurement for speed) it could draw. At this moment, the pace of development seems to be slowing somewhat. Performance of graphics cards has now reached the level of ?ridiculous?. Any card of the new crop is fast enough to provide you with all the graphics delight you need to play the newest games, even in high resolutions. Until game developers find new ways to top the graphical demands, of course. Most new developments now come from introducing new functions, that make it easier for game developers to create fabulously looking environments. Examples are anti-aliasing, which removes the sharp edges of pictures, when they are presented in perspective, and translucency. The GeForce graphics cards are top-of-the-crop at the moment. nVidia introduced this range of cards about one-and-a-half year ago ?a lifetime in the graphical cards industry- and has taken the lead in this area from then on. With it, nVidia decided the chips on the cards were powerful enough to call them GPUs, or Graphical Processor Units, but this merely can be dismissed as a marketing-move. They are, however, very powerful indeed. The GeForce is now available in three different main flavors: The original GeForce, the GeForce 2 GTS, and the new GeForce 2 MX. The GeForce is the original version of the series, already very powerful, but overtaken by the other versions by now. I now consider this a ?budget? card, with a good price/performance ratio. The GeForce 2 GTS is the powerhorse of the range. It definitely is the most powerful graphics card available at the moment, but comes at a premium.
Expect to pay at least 400,- Euro for them. In order to fill the gap between the two, nVidia introduced the GeForce 2 MX. It has all the goodies of the GTS, but compromises somewhat on the performance-side. This compromise mainly shows at very high resolutions, and at 32 bits color-depth, but since I usually don?t see the difference between 32-bits and 16 bits, I usually go for the lower color-depth anyway. The Asus graphics cards with GeForce 2 MX comes in the following makes: the AGP-V7100 /2VID (with dual VGA output for two screens), AGP-V7100 /DVI (with one VGA output, and a DVI connector), AGP-V7100 /T, (with VGA and TV-out output) and AGP-V7100 Pure (with only one VGA output). Also, recently, the AGP-V7100 Deluxe Combo is introduced, which includes everything from the /2DVI model, and includes 3D glasses. Of course, the more features, the more you pay. All models are accompanied by DVD playback software, and the excellent ?Soldiers of Fortune? game. I bought the Pure version, which I think was a mistake. The Pure does not supply a TV-out, which refrains you from playing DVDs on your TV using your PC, forcing you to use a separate card for that. If you prefer this, aim for the /T version. In total, the V7100 is a high quality card, with all the performance you will need for some time to come, and supports all features of the newer games, for a very reasonable price. It fully supports DirectX 7 (and presumably 8), and for this moment, game developers still have to catch up with all these new possibilities. If you don?t have a 3d graphics card, and wish to upgrade your PC, don?t look any further, but go for a GeForce 2 MX. If you want quality also, the Asus isn?t a bad bet. If you want to overclock your graphics card (if you don?t know what I mean, ignore it), the Asus will fit you just fine. If you still own one of the first generation graphics cards (I owned a Viper
330), the major advantages of these new card are increased speed, better support for newer games, and higher resolutions. It?s definitely worth the upgrade.