PC users approach “value” products with different expectations in mind. Your normal PC user will see a “value” CPU as something that they can afford but won’t perform as well as a more expensive unit. However, your average AnandTech reader sees a “value” CPU as a true value only if it can be overclocked to the point where it can compete with a much higher performing and much more expensive processor. The same holds true for video cards but unfortunately, until recent times, there have been very few instances in which a video card that has been targeted at the value market segment has been able to perform as well as some of the higher performing and more expensive cards when overclocked.
There have been a handful of value cards that have ended up performing quite respectably in the past when overclocked. Towards the end of 1999 we took a look at 3dfx’s Velocity 100, which was basically a crippled Voodoo3 with only one texture unit (TMU) enabled. However, with a few registry tweaks we were able to remove the crippling factor by re-enabling the second TMU, thus bringing the performance of this sub $50 card up to the level of the Voodoo3 2000 in many cases.
Unfortunately, successes like the Velocity 100 were very limited for the most part and we were never really able to find what would be the Celeron or Duron of video cards, a really cheap graphics card that could be overclocked to the point where it would be competing with products of a much more expensive class.
The latest candidate for the title of the Celeron/Duron of video cards is NVIDIA’s recently released GeForce2 MX. Weighing in at a light $119, the GeForce2 MX already meets the first requirement for the most bang for your buck overclocker - it’s cheap. The next step is to see whether or not it can overclock, and following that, does overclocking the card actually help increase performance by any noticeable amount?
Does the GeForce2 MX meet the rest of the requirements? Obviously, as otherwise there wouldn’t be much of a purpose to this article, but let’s see exactly how well it performs and just how fast we can get this stealthy $119 rocket to go.