Overclocking: Is everyone doing it?
Everyone seems to overclock their CPUs, but what about their video cards? Originally, I never thought the performance gains garnered from overclocking the video card actually justified all the trouble, but then the Voodoo3 and TNT2 entered the scene. The Voodoo3 2000 was a serious overclocker. We could get the 143/143MHz (core/memory) card up to 175/175MHz in our tests, and we've heard reports that many could reach 183/183MHz. You can't ignore 20-30% gains. The TNT2 was also a sweet overclocker. Many vanilla TNT2 cards could easily reach Ultra speeds and higher.
Most people still don't overclock their video cards, but video card overclocking is becoming easier. Today, manufacturers such as Matrox and Guillemot provide their own overclocking utilities. They don't want users to resort to third party overclocking programs that might do serious harm to the cards. Still, overclocking your video card is pretty dangerous. It's much easier to break a video card than a CPU through overclocking. While Intel can afford to leave headroom for processors, 3D card manufacturers have to squeeze the most performance out of each chip because of all the competition. (Remember back in the day when AMD and Cyrix both put out extremely hot processors in order to compete with Intel?)
The GeForce 256
What happens when you get your hands on couple $250-$350 video cards? You try to break them of course! We didn't actually break them, but we did try overclocking them. We overclocked our DDR and SDRAM NVIDIA GeForce 256 reference cards. What did we find out? Well, 23 million transistors on a .22 micron process result in an incredibly hot card. Read on to find out how the cards performed.