You can expect the GeForce equipped with DDR SDRAM to dominate in all the benchmarks, but the lead it holds over the competition is naturally reduced when running at 640 x 480 since this is primarily a CPU test and the effects of fill rate limitations on the slower cards can't really be seen at this low of a resolution.

One thing that you can take note of is the fact that the switch to 32-bit color on the DDR GeForce is about 3% whereas the drop is about 20% on the SDR version of the card. The effects of the greater memory bandwidth provided by the DDR SDRAM can already be seen at this low of a resolution. There are three other cards that exhibit a behavior similar to that of the DDR GeForce when moving to 32-bit color, each for different reasons.

The S3 Savage 2000 deviates from the rules we have been preaching for so long. With an available memory bandwidth virtually equal to that of the SDR GeForce (2.5GB/s vs 2.65GB/s), the Savage 2000 should take a similar drop in performance when switching to 32-bit color rendering. There are two reasons that explain why this does not happen, the first is that the latest drivers (v1.09) deliver a 24-bit Z-buffer to Quake III Arena without providing for an 8-bit stencil buffer, unlike the GeForce which provides the 24-bit Z and 8-bit stencil buffer as requested by the application. This frees up a noticeable amount of memory bandwidth which thus lessens the effect of the switch to 32-bit color rendering which is a bandwidth hog in itself. The second factor that helps the Savage 2000 out was pointed out to us by a helpful reader posting on AnandTech's Forums. If you recall, one of the most talked about features of the Savage 3D was its support for S3TC, or S3's Texture Compression algorithm. S3TC made its way into the Savage4 and now the Savage 2000, fortunately id has included a provision for S3TC in Quake III Arena, instead of using higher resolution textures whenever S3TC is enabled, Quake III Arena simply uses the compressed textures, which are physically smaller in size without sacrificing image quality, and thus a decent amount of memory bandwidth is freed once again making the transition to 32-bit color on the Savage 2000 less painful than it is on the SDR GeForce.

Matrox's G400MAX and ATI's Rage Fury MAXX are also performing quite well in 32-bit color, this is primarily because of their inherently massive available memory bandwidth figures.

These are all factors you'll want to keep in mind as we further investigate performance.

Now at a more realistic resolution for someone with a Pentium III 700 and a $300+ video card, at 1024 x 768 we see the DDR GeForce truly pull ahead of the competition in the 16-bit color tests. Beating out the next fastest Rage Fury MAXX by over 24 fps, the DDR GeForce even delivers a playable 64 fps at 1024 x 768 x 32-bit color. If frame rate is indeed king, then NVIDIA takes the crown here while delivering superb image quality.

Most of the previous generation of cards are having a very hard time competing at this resolution, with the exception of the G400MAX, which is performing at close to a next generation level, the chart is topped with the latest and the greatest from NVIDIA, ATI and S3.

The massive memory bandwidth of the MAXX shows here as it is almost able to keep up with the DDR GeForce and easily beats out the SDR GeForce, especially in 32-bit color.

The Test Pentium III 600E - Quake III Arena

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