SAN FRANCISCO (05/26/2000) - Forget the CPU wars of Advanced Micro Devices Inc. versus Intel Corp.. If you're a gamer, the performance competition you've been watching is the battle of the 3D graphics boards. The latest gladiator to emerge: ELSA AG's Gladiac, one of the first boards based on the new NVidia GeForce2 GTS chip set to reach the market.
The $349 Gladiac ships with 32MB of fast DDR. Support for video input and output will be available as an upgrade on ELSA's site (though the company had not announced a price for this add-on at press time). The software bundle includes a DVD decoder and enhanced drivers that let you select custom resolutions and refresh rates for your monitor. You also get to choose two free games from a list of ten popular titles, and you can buy three more at discount prices.
The Gladiac's graphics chip, NVidia's GeForce2 GTS, supports transform and lighting acceleration, freeing your CPU from much of the burden of 3D rendering; and per-pixel shading, a technique that permits you to render high-quality lighting effects.
Though the Gladiac didn't blow the current generation of graphics boards away, it is the fastest board we've seen. The card cranked out an awesome 80 frames per second in our 32-bit color Quake 3 test (the fastest current boards average around 70 fps). On every measure, we saw an increase in frame rate of 10 to 20 percent over cards based on the previous GeForce chip set.
Of course, the extra speed doesn't come cheap, and for most games available today, a DDR-based GeForce board--which costs about $250--is a better value.
But if you need the fastest graphics board of the moment, this may be it. Other GeForce2-based boards will be out by the time you read this, along with new 3dfx Voodoo 4 and 5 boards. This should be an exciting summer for gaming enthusiasts.
Pro: Blazing 3D speed, terrific image quality.
Con: Very high price.
Value: Best video performance available, for gamers willing to pay top dollar.
Street price: $349