A GeForce2 review? I vaguely recall something else that deserves all the attention right now. The GeForce3 is it? Yeah, well it's just going to have to wait a little longer for its day in the sun. We figured that one last run with the GeForce2 might just do us some good; after all, coughing up $500 for the new card is probably on the same to-do list as the one with "sever left pinky" on it. Besides, we haven't done a GeForce2 Pro review yet. So before the time runs out on the clock, we figured we could pop one out.
With all the variations of the GeForce2 running around, what exactly makes the Pro special? If we toss the seemingly runty GeForce2 MX out of the way, the GTS, Pro and Ultra are all essentially the same cards. The core of these cards is nothing like the neutered MX. All the pixel pipelines remain intact, so rest assured that you will not be getting something akin to the newer Celeron when you get any of these cards.
Pro or not to Pro?
Before we lose any of you, this story does have a happy ending. The card is hardly a dud, and the Skittles and beer flowed freely after all the dust had settled.
So what exactly is the GeForce2 Pro? We've had trouble finding common speeds amongst the Pro variety of cards. Looking on Pricewatch, or even the pages of manufacturers, it is a bit harder to get a clear picture of what the card should be. The vanilla GTS and Ultra versions have readily accepted speeds. The GTS has a core speed of 200 MHz, and the memory clocks in at a conservative 333 MHz. The Ultra, on the other hand, has a core speed of 250 MHz, with memory speeds in the 460 MHz range. Common sense dictates that the Pro should land somewhere in between those numbers. So when we found the MSI Pro card differing from what we thought might be the norm, emails went a flyin' and turds hit many a fan.
When we went to try to overclock the MSI Starforce 815 Pro, the default speeds that we observed were more than a little strange. The core and memory speeds didn't quite match anything we had ever seen before. We found the core running at 250 MHz (an Ultra core!) Then things took a dive as our eyes darted ever so slightly lower. We found the memory running at a pitiful 365 MHz. It didn't make any sense to have such a fast core coupled with slow memory.
Upon contacting MSI, we found out that we had an early revision of the board. For some reason, this early revision had a BIOS that incorrectly reported the speed of the components, regardless of the fact that the board was running well within spec. The core was in actuality humming along just fine at 200 MHz, and the RAM was doing equally well at 400 MHz. So after all the scare, it turned all we really had was a board that like to tell us it was inferior, but was actually just fine. Talk about issues with self-image…