nVidia have been one of, if not THE most powerful 3D video processor makers in the history of the PC. They started their reign back when AGP was in its early stages of 1x transfer rates.
nVidia's first compilation was the Riva128 video card. This was the first fully 3D video processor capable of removing some very important instruction sets away from the CPU, making video rendering much more reliable and faster. At the time, S3, Intel and 3dfx were waging their own battles on the 3D front. S3 introduced its Savage 3D, the most powerful AGP video accelerator of its time. Intel brought out the i740, the first 8MB 3D graphics adapter, while 3dfx came out with the Voodoo series. All of this put the 4MB Riva out of contention.
nVidia upped the ante by taking the same Riva128 engine and increasing the video memory buffer to 8MB to take on the other giants. While short lived at the top, 3dfx introduced the Voodoo 2 3D Accelerator which pushed all other 3D makers to the bottom of the list.
nVidia's first attempt to challenge 3dfx was the Riva TNT. This was the first 128-bit 3D Graphics engine capable of independent Direct3D and OpenGL operations without any CPU cycles for decode. Supporting up to 16MB of memory, the TNT was still not able to knock the 3dfx Voodoo 2 off the top of the 3D table. Taking this into consideration, nVidia took the greatest points of the TNT engine and doubled them. This was the first we saw of nVidia's new 3D engine, the TNT2. This redesigned TNT was able to support up to 32MB of video memory and even at 16MB was able to totally destroy the 3dfx Voodoo 2. This was the last time nVidia had any serious competition. S3 made a gallant attempt with the Savage4 chipset, but ran into so many problems the chip never really made it off the ground.
After the TNT series, nVidia introduced to us the GeForce line of video cards, and today we are up to the 4th generation of GeForce card. Each new generation has added new steps and features to our great gaming experience and the 4th generation is no exception.
Today we are looking at four video cards based on nVidia's Ti4200 GeForce 4 GPU to see just how good this baby really is.
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