Strictly speaking, overclocking is not a feature of a graphics card, but in the case of the GeForce line of graphics cards it really is. Thanks to a wonderful registry hack called Coolbits (pictured above) which is becoming somewhat of a standard for nVidia graphics card overclockers -- We are able to overclock through nVidia Detonator drivers in a very easy, and usually successful environment. The default core clock frequency of the VisionTek GeForce3 is 200MHz and the memory clock frequency is 460MHz - I just had to try my hand at overclocking a brand new GeForce3 card, who wouldn't?
let's just say the GeForce3 is a dream to overclock, especially the newer (and allegedly more overclockable) A5 stepping which this card and other production level cards use. I was able to take the core clock right up to 250MHz and the memory clock to 550MHz, hassle free, on an AMD Athlon system with ABIT KT7A (VIA KT133a + VIA 686b) motherboard. I tried to reach the maximum memory clock of 575MHz, but as fast as the 3.8ns memory is it couldn't handle that speed, at least not with stock cooling. On an overclocked AMD Athlon system, I couldn't push the memory clock as high. This is mainly for the reason that the AGP bus is overclocked, thus overheating and causing crashes. Even after increasing and decreasing the VIO voltage, I couldn't overclock the GeForce3 as well as an unoverclocked AGP bus of 66MHz.
To test for visual defects due to excessive heat, I ran a series of tests in 3DMark2001 without any problems, including the visually stunning Nature test which truly has to be seen to be believed. The overclocking resulted in a steady frame rate increase, however take note that we will be testing the GeForce3 at default clock speeds. Increasing the core and memory clock speeds to 250/550 respectively, gained roughly a 20% frame rate increase under Quake 3 Arena. This is a positive note to report on, as in the past overclocking of graphics cards hasn't resulted in such a big performance boost.
- Graphics Quality
Without getting all technical, the nVidia GeForce3 delivers some totally amazing and realistic graphics to the PC platform in games and applications that make use of Microsoft Direct X8 and OpenGL 1.2 which the GeForce3 is optimised for. In all the games (such as AquaNox, Dronez, nVidia demos, Serious Sam, Q3A and even GLMark and 3DMark2001) I tested with the GeForce3, I was simply blown away, that's the best and only way to put it - It made me sit back in my seat and take notice.
The graphics are the best I have ever seen in my time with computers. You thought Quake by ID Software was totally amazing -- Well wait to you see the 3DMark2001 Nature test in action by Madonion; I struggle to find the words to describe it, utterly amazing or bloody brilliant, however are ways to describe it and that would be an understatement. Instead of posting all the screenshots within the review, for the bandwidth challenged I have posted them in this forum thread of the TweakTown Forums for everyone to check out.
- Installation and Stability
Installation of the VisionTek GeForce3 could be compared to dialing a phone number on your telephone, maybe a slight exaggeration but nothing overly difficult is involved, many could perform the task with ease using the included manual from VisionTek. After placing the card in the AGP slot, I had handy the latest 12.00 nVidia Detonator drivers which along with 11.01 drivers offer full support for the new GeForce3. Installation went without a hitch, no problems from start till end.
The stability of the VisionTek GeForce3 on VIA KT133 and VIA KT133a platforms was supreme, not one lock up to report on during our whole testing phase. I ran a continuous loop of 3DMark2001 for a few hours to pressure the card and it still stood up strong to the challenge.