VisionTek’s rise to the top
Since NVIDIA’s GeForce4 launch last February, video card manufacturers have been hastily selling their older GeForce3 products in order to make room for GeForce4. VisionTek is one such company that has been going through this transition, and once again they are the first retailer to market with a top to bottom lineup of GeForce-based products. VisionTek is able to pull this feat off because of its unique access to NVIDIA’s latest and greatest upcoming hardware.
While other companies are merely given paper specs of what is coming down the pipe, VisionTek is not only given hardware access, but they also work with NVIDIA’s engineers to design and manufacture the reference board – the GeForce 4 reference boards we tested last month are largely identical to the Xtasy retail cards we’re reviewing today. This gives VisionTek weeks on its competitors, while they’re still coming up with their own final design, VisionTek is taking their own products into full production. It is because of this rapid execution that VisionTek has gone from a relative unknown in the graphics segment to one of the most popular manufacturers. In fact, since publishing our look at VisionTek’s GeForce3 lineup last November, the company has secured the number one spot in the US retail market, surpassing industry heavyweight ATI.
The cost of execution
While early access to hardware is part of the equation of success for VisionTek, the company is also able to get its products to market quickly by keeping costs in check. Software bundles are kept to the bare essentials: for its GeForce4 products VisionTek provides the driver CD with online manual (a paper quick setup guide is also included) and a copy of Cyberlink’s PowerDVD program. GeForce4 MX cards are also given a selection of technology demos while Cyberlink’s Power Director software is included with all GeForce4 Ti boards. Retail games are not included in the packaging nor are hardware-monitoring utilities.
To be honest, we don’t miss the game bundle that much. Lets be honest, most game bundles are outdated games we’re no longer interested in anyway, but a hardware monitoring program would be a nice feature. While it rarely happens in the short lifespan of the graphics cards we use, we have seen a fan go out on a graphics card or two. It would be nice if VisionTek provided a utility to inform us if our fan failed, some programs will even dynamically adjust the clock of the graphics core depending on workload. VisionTek’s strategy is to get the card out on the market as quickly as possible at an inexpensive price. The old mantra “keep it simple” is strictly followed.