Here they come!
Yes! The GeForce 256 is finally out, but now we have to prepare for the flood of GeForce boards that are ready to enter the market. Seriously, now that NVIDIA is the only major fabless 3D accelerator manufacturer left on the market, you can bet every third party video card manufacturer and their mother is going to try to sell you a GeForce card. You can expect to see GeForce cards from Creative Labs, ASUS, Leadtek, ELSA, Guillemot, and Canopus by year end.
How will NVIDIA's business model affect you, the consumer? Let's take a look at the other 3D card manufacturers. 3dfx, Matrox, ATI, and S3 all put out their own boards (some use third party manufacturers in Asia), and they have the power to set their own prices. They receive a larger share of the profits for each board sold. NVIDIA, on the other hand, just sells chips to video card manufacturers. If Creative sells a board for $200, and ASUS sells a board for $300, NVIDIA still makes the same amount of money from each board, the price of the chip.
Competition is good
Having six different GeForce manufacturers will help consumers because each manufacturer will have to somehow differentiate their GeForce cards from the other cards on the market. While some will actually try to add value with a sweet software bundle, cool utilities, or excellent customer support, others will choose to compete on price (our favorite method by far).
Here at FiringSquad, we don't really care about the software bundle or any special software utilities (unless they include a really big name game such as Quake 3 or Diablo II). If the actual hardware is tweaked in some way (higher clock speeds), that'll draw our interest, but we could care less if the board comes with Heretic II or Colorific.
Guillemot was the first manufacturer to send us a GeForce card to review. We won't bore you with a long review regurgitating all the GeForce features we've already covered in previous articles. We'll just go over the specs (briefly), take a look at the card, see how well it overclocks, and then move on to the all-important benchmarks.