Even though we all would love to put together high-speed gaming rigs, the reality is that most of us don't have the cash to do so. Screw the dreams of 15,000 R.P.M. SCSI RAID 0 setups; stop ogling over the GeForce2 Ultra with dual gigahertz CPUs. Let's shoot for something realistic; we know that most of the people out there have sub-600 MHz machines. Whether it's your primary computer or something built from left over parts, chances are you might have some out of date video card or CPU sitting in there. Be gone foul Virge!
With that in mind, we (by that I mean me) sat down for some serious benchmarking -gathering up quite a few of the old video cards, and tons of new ones, throwing them through a gambit of tests to see where the sweet spot is for that aging system.
It would be a waste to see a person buy a GeForce2, only to have it sit in a Celeron 450A machine. The user would experience some gains, but he would never see the benefits of the card without a faster CPU. So instead of throwing down $300 for just the video card, what could he buy instead? Chances are he could spend a fraction of what it costs to buy a GeForce2, and still see the benefits that his existing system could dole out.
The key things that affect this article are video card limitations and CPU limitations. There are only so many pixels that the card is able to draw every second. Only so many triangles can be laid down before the video card reaches its limits. On the flip side, we have CPU limitations.
CPU limitations come into play when trying to push the card to its limits. If the card is already redlining, the CPU can't be the limit. If the card isn't being pushed, however, you can probably guess that the CPU isn't fast enough to take the video card to its limits.
So before you shell out some major bucks for a new video card check out our "little" collection here. We tested the systems ranging from a Celeron 450A to a Pentium III 933. Video cards range from the now rinky-dink TNT2 all the way up to a GeForce2.