Last December, the card to get was not made by NVIDIA or 3dfx. It wasn't developed by S3 nor did it boast features that it didn't deliver upon. Would you believe that the most recommended card for gamers and hardware enthusiasts alike towards the end of 1998 was made by ATI?
ATI's Rage 128 captured the interests of gamers that had previously never thought of ATI as a serious contender in the 3D gaming arena. It delivered everything a gamer, as well as a regular user, could ask for in a single card. So why are we not all using ATI Rage 128s right now?
Well, although the card was reviewed by AnandTech, and a number of other sites in December of 1998, the card never hit the shelves until 1999. By this time, the holiday buying season was already over and the Rage 128 was old news. No one was impressed with the performance of the card and with the TNT2/Voodoo3 on the way, an investment in the Rage 128 would not be one that would last you for a long time.
Not only was the Rage 128 plagued by a delayed release date but the driver support for the card was a joke. Although our original test sample had no problem operating in a Super7 system, the final shipping card did. It wasn't until ATI specifically addressed the problem of enabling AGP 2X on Super7 chipsets that the Rage 128 became a viable option for non-Intel owners.
After all of the kinks were finally smoothed out and the card became the product we expected to see in December of 1998, 3dfx was nearing their launch of the Voodoo3 and no one cared about the lonely Rage 128 any more. This summer ATI gave us the opportunity to take a look at their "successor" to the Rage 128 (which in the current graphics market means "higher clock speed variant" aka TNT2/V3/S4) and we were more than happy to do so. What we saw was exactly what we expected, a higher clock speed Rage 128 that was more competitive than the original Rage 128 and added a few new Video In/Out and DVD features courtesy of a chip known as the Rage Theater. The name given to this "new" chip? The ATI Rage 128 Pro.