- First Impressions
The design and layout of the VisionTek GeForce3 reminds me of the nVidia GeForce2 Ultra reference design and layout - If the uneducated were to look at a GeForce2 Ultra and GeForce3, I dare say they wouldn't notice a difference, apart from the GeForce3 reference card size being a bit smaller than the GeForce2 Ultra reference card size. The VisionTek GeForce3 uses the same quality green heatsink fan combination as the reference nVidia GeForce2 Ultra to dissipate the heat from the graphic cards' GPU and onboard memory. I personally think nVidia should have made the heatsink blue or purple for a change - I guess they must have had excess heatsinks left over from GeForce2 Ultra production. Most VGA monitor plugs on graphics cards are situated on the left when (viewing from the back of the case) plugged into the AGP slot, this time the monitor plug is on the right, just a simple observation.
- Nice Box, VisionTek hits the retail market with a bang!
The box (picture on first page of review) in which the card and manual were seated is quite attractive, the purples and blacks match well. VisionTek haven't had to worry about big fancy boxes in the past, this is their first retail graphics card which will be hitting the store shelves very shortly, if not already in some stores. Inside the box is the graphics card itself, generic manual and no driver disk, at least I didn't receive one in my package from VisionTek - This isn't a big problem for Internet users as the latest nVidia Detonator drivers are usually leaked just about weekly on the Internet, making it easy for us to obtain drivers to power the card from sites like 3DChipset.com.
- She's Packed
Another impression I noticed right away after studying the card was the sheer amount of transistors (in fact 57 million of them) and chips and whatnot on the card itself -- It is packed full on the relatively small PCB. The EliteMT 3.8ns 64mb of onboard SDRAM (460MHz DDR resulting in 7.36GB/second memory bandwidth) memory is seated on the top side of the card. Word on the street has is that nVidia may be releasing a 128mb version of the GeForce3, the extra 64mb will no doubt find it's home on the back of the card - Who would have thought 2 years ago we would have seen graphics card with 128mb of onboard memory? Sheesh... VisionTek have given us the option of TV OUT, controlled by Conexant Bt869 encoder. Since this card is marketed towards the high end market, I would have thought it would have been a good idea for VisionTek to include an LCD connector for increasing popular LCD monitors.
- Cooling one hot GPU
New GPU, and yes it does run hot! Active cooling is supplied through a 50mm fan which is powered by a 2-pin cable, meaning it doesn't have the ability to monitor the RPM of the fan -- Making it hard to tell if the actual fan stops when your case is closed, except for visual errors onscreen, of course. As an overclocker, it would have been handy to have fan and temperature monitoring software such as Asus' Smart Doctor. I'm happy to report that the fan on the card will not take up the first PCI slot, like such coolers as the Thermaltake Blue Orb for example. The quality fan and heatsink combo did an adequate job of cooling the core of the GeForce3 GPU and memory. I didn't notice any visual defects onscreen due to overheating throughout our testing, even when overclocked (more details below). If you have a spare chipset cooler such as the Thermaltake Blue Orb, you will be happy to hear that the holes on this card's PCB are perfect for installation of such chipset coolers.
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