As you have no doubt noticed, there is much more to this subject than meets the eye. Not only are there a multitude of terms to consider, but, speed, image quality and support factors also. There is a mass of competition in this market. All claim to have the best, but, this isn't always the case. Then again, it can be the case at the same time. I don't think improvements in 3D will stop, until it is possible to create a Virtual Reality in realtime. An image that you literally couldn't tell apart from real life, if you didn't know any better. This is obviously going to take a lot more RAM, CPU power and 3D muscle, so we have some way to go yet. For the time being, we'll have to make do with what we've got. There's no doubt that current cards are amazing and will give your PC's graphics the face lift and injection of lightening fluidity that they need. If you've read the other pages on Image Quality and Speed, then you'll no doubt be thinking that it's a hard decision to make. You're right. It is a hard decision. Price must also be considered. Some cards are cheap and yet reasonably good. Others are expensive, but not that hot. Here is what I think to be a fair order of best to worst with all things considered. Hopefully, you'll find this to be an acceptable solution to the problem and handy for a quick reference.
choice NVidia Riva TNT2
Fast both in 2D and 3D, solid and reliable with excellent image quality. AGP 4X compatible and good support for much of Direct X. You couldn't go wrong with this one.
choice Matrox G400 MAX
Second in Direct X performance and the best image quality make this a close second to the TNT2. The only let down is the unoptimized Open GL driver. It supports AGP 4X and is the only 3D card with hardware bump-mapping. Overall, very cool.
place goes to the Voodoo3
Despite it's inferior image quality, the Voodoo3 is undeniably fast, especially in Open GL and it has GLIDE support in it's favour also, though this will become less important as time goes on. It's lack of general hardware features and up to date technology make it a bit of a dodgy choice in terms of future proofing, but, at least it's fast.
that's it then. The search is over and NVidia is out on top......for now!
BUT.....remember that this only applies to machines with 300Mhz processors or faster, 64MB RAM and an AGP slot. If you have an older machine (166MHz to 233MHz) then a Voodoo2 is pretty much your only option. They're quite cheap now as well. Voodoo2 SLI anyone? :¬)