We all know what the fastest 3D cards are currently, however not everyone has the desire or the funds to spend $500 on Dual Voodoo2 accelerators to get decent Quake 2 performance. Luckily, the recent price drops in the low-end 3D Accelerator market coincide with the recent growth of the Socket-7/Super7 market. For around $200 you can pick up a decent K6-2 + Motherboard combo and for an additional $100 you can get an excellent 3D accelerator. Unfortunately things aren't that easy, not everyone has a K6-2 and the performance of low-end 3D accelerators varies depending on the processor used in the tests.
Putting the cards to the test is the key to making a final decision, the test? Quake 2. Unreal is still a few steps away from allowing it to be used as a standard Benchmark test, and we all know how unreliable 3D Winbench 98 scores are when comparing cards.
All cards tested here either used their own OpenGL drivers, or those included with Quake 2, listed below are any and all third party drivers that were used in the tests:
3Dfx Voodoo 1 - Diamond Monster 3D (PCI) - 3Dfx Glide 2.43
3D Rage Pro - ATI Xpert@Work (AGP) - ATI Quake 2 OpenGL ICD
Intel 740 - Real3D StarFighter (AGP) - Real3D OpenGL ICD
nVidia Riva 128 - Canopus Witch Doctor (AGP) - nVidia Riva 128 OpenGL Drivers w/ AMD 3DNow! Drivers
The above cards were chosen as they represent the general performance of the chipsets they are based upon. Once you have narrowed your decision down to a single chipset, then you can search the AnandTech Video Card Reviews for reviews of cards based on those chipsets to compare features.
The test system AnandTech used was a Socket-7 Processor (K6-2 300, 6x86MX 200+, or Pentium MMX 233) on an AOpen AX59Pro Super7 Motherboard, with 64MB of Corsair PC100 SDRAM. The 2D card present for the Voodoo tests was an AGP ATI Xpert@Work card. The test system was running Windows 98 on the first of three clean partitions of a 5.1GB Western Digital Ultra DMA Hard Drive. Quake 2 was loaded on the second partition leaving the third partition for all other driver files.
So without further ado, let's get to those benchmarks...