A Torrid Affair with Graphics: April 2001 3D Market Updateby Anand Lal Shimpi on April 23, 2001 12:00 PM EST
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NVIDIA on the offense
In spite of the attractiveness of the Kyro II, it is still not a major threat to NVIDIA’s cash crop, the performance market segment currently dominated by the GeForce2 Ultra and soon enough, the GeForce3. However, NVIDIA has also taken a considerable amount of flak on the point that the GeForce3 is simply too expensive to justify its performance/features advantages over the GeForce2 line. The arguments are well founded, as a card retailing at between $500 - $600 whose power is being taken advantage of by a whopping zero game titles isn’t exactly what everyone wants to hear.
Fortunately, it seems like NVIDIA has been able reap the benefits of improved yields and a relatively quick ramp on GeForce3 core production at the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the fab for NVIDIA’s graphics chip production. Because of this, the GeForce3 will now carry a price tag of $399 making it much more reasonable than the $500 - $600 estimates we were originally given although still leaning towards the expensive side.
At $399, the GeForce3 is contributing less than 1/3 the overall cost of building an high performing $1500 system, and considering the extreme cost cutting measures we’ve seen in the CPU market, putting together a fast $1500 system with a GeForce3 shouldn’t be too far of a stretch without having to skimp on too many components.
Unfortunately NVIDIA’s price drop can only make the purchase easier to swallow, it cannot however, cover up the fact that there are simply no titles that take advantage of the GeForce3’s incredible technology. While you can make the argument that the GeForce3 offers better memory bandwidth utilization and more flexibility from an Anti-Aliasing standpoint, whether or not that justifies the $400 price tag is still a shady answer. That answer obviously lies in your hand, and for many more now that the price has dropped, the answer may end up being yes. A 32MB GeForce3 might be able to push prices even further, but NVIDIA really has no reason to release an even "cheaper" GeForce3 since it has no other DX8 parts to compete against.
We’re going to have to stick to our guns on this one and still recommend that if you can wait, hold off until games actually require the features behind the GeForce3 before plunking down your cash for one. If you want something to tide you over until then, NVIDIA has a few attractive options, as does ST Micro. If, however, you must upgrade now and won’t upgrade again for quite a while (read: over 9 – 12 months), then the GeForce3 may be an investment worth looking at.