by Anand Lal Shimpi on April 27, 1999 2:32 PM EST

The law of plain reality states that when dealing with computer hardware, you will never find one product to be completely flawless. It is for that reason that the term "one-size-fits-all" does not and cannot apply to computer hardware. Just as shoes come in different sizes and styles depending on your individual needs, computer hardware does the same. Last year, the video accelerator market experienced the harsh realities of this example of common sense. Towards the end of the reign of the 3dfx Voodoo accelerator, and towards the end of the life span of the nVidia Riva 128 2D/3D accelerator, companies began stockpiling their PR efforts for the next generation of graphics chipsets to go to war. Among these chipsets were the 3dfx Voodoo2 and the nVidia Riva TNT (although they remained under code names at the time). More specific to the topic at hand, the nVidia Riva TNT was depicted as being the ultimate solution for the gamer. Even after 3dfx released their Voodoo2 nVidia continued to boast that their upcoming TNT would pack a greater punch than 3dfx could step up to handle.

As you all probably can guess, since you don’t happen to have the ultimate 2D/3D accelerator sitting in front of you, the nVidia Riva TNT never came through in terms of beating the pants off of the Voodoo2. Instead, what developed was a simple choice between the two leading competitors, 3dfx for the raw performance of their Voodoo2/Voodoo2 SLI solution, and nVidia for the superior image quality of their Riva TNT solution. Which solution was the superior one? That depends entirely on your point of view, while there are some users that prefer raw speed over image quality, there are others that prefer to enjoy a greater image quality over raw speed. Needless to say, ultimately, the year 1998 did not end up crowning any one graphics chipset manufacturer as the indisputable king of the market.

Let’s move to the present time, now one year later, can the same be said for 1999? Things are just beginning to heat up in the graphics industry. In order to remain competitive and bridge the gap between the past generation of graphics accelerators and the generation surely to come, all of the big names in the industry are releasing what AnandTech likes to call, transitional products; transitional products are essentially products that are designed to fill a void between two major releases. To put the term into context, the Intel 440LX chipset can be considered the transitional chipset between the original 440FX and the current 440BX chipset for the Pentium II processor. And speaking in more relative terms, the nVidia Riva TNT2 can be considered the transitional graphics accelerator between the original Riva TNT, and the upcoming next-generation nVidia product.

So you’ve got $130 burning a hole in your pocket, and you want to be able to play Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament without having to take coffee breaks in between frames, is the TNT2 right for you? …or is this transitional product one you’ll want to skip over?

The Specifications
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