Pentium MMX 166MHz. Matrox Manipulation Extensions. MultiMedia Extensions. What have you. Neither is correct though. That’s another story and is completely out of the scope here. This article is about GPUs. Yes. The meat. The bones. The love. Raw processing power in drawing tris/s and accelerating games by lowering burden on CPUs.
My first foray into gaming like a crazy addict on PC started with my first purchase (above). Of course, I ain’t counting playing games for countless hours on classic x86 (286, 386, 486 and Pentium Class 1) in my school/ cousin’s/ friend’s place. My personal relationship with computers started in my home with Pentium 166 MHz MMX. During that time, 1996 I did not have a dedicated 3D-accelerator (so it was called then). What was available for me was on-board Cirrus Logic (if I remember it correctly). It had a mightly 1MB of memory size. Yes. That is 0.1% of Video RAM that is currently installed in my PC.
For me, getting into graphics accelerators started when Quake II arrived. I was having super-fun playing the game in software mode. But, then I came across OpenGL setting for the game. Well, that was it. I turned it on and somehow got it working in Quake II. Immediately, the graphics smoothed out, green filter all over the screen and the game portrayed a fun ride with approx 2-5 FPS (or I think so). That was it. I had to buy myself a new graphics card. That’s when I started researching and knowing more about accelerators available in market.
Let’s begin with my first purchase. It was the year of enlightenment, 1998.
Disclaimer: All the years associated with GPUs in my blog is “Year of purchase”
1. Diamond Viper V330 
This card immediately boosted my performance in games from almost-nothingness to spectacular (by standards of ’98). Major boost was with the increase in memory size to 4MB.
2. Asus AGP-V7700 Nvidia GeForce GTS 32MB 
The major selling point of this card was Transform & Lighting (T&L). It was all woohoo at the moment. I absolutely loved this graphics card. Particularly, this card blew Giants: Citizen Kabuto. One of the first games that used this card to the limit.
3. Sapphire ATI Radeon 9600 SE 
To this day, I still consider this card to be a filler. Getting this was more of a mistake. I was supposed to get 9600, SE was a real low when it came to performance. Very unsatisfactory. Mainly, as it had a measly 64-bit memory bus. It just couldn’t handle games of that generation well.
4. Nvidia GeForce 6600 GT 
After the love that was GeForce 2 GTS, 6600 GT blew me again. This is one of the most famous cards of the decade. I am pretty sure countless PC gamers had an affair with this video card by Nvidia. Effective memory clock frequency of 1000 MHz! DDR all the way! Yeah!
5. Sapphire ATI Radeon x1950 Pro 
This was another of my favorite GPU. It faithfully allowed hordes of games to run smoothly at pretty high settings. Plus, it boasted a killer 44.2GB/s memory bandwidth. Yes!
6. Palit AMD Radeon 4870 Dual Sonic Edition 
It has been 4.5 years now since I bought this card. I must say, this has been one of the best performer. Ever. Even after 4 years, this card performs admirably in current gen games like Metro: Last Light and Far Cry 3. Most games are still playable at 1080p. Love it. Guess, I’ll wait for awhile before I upgrade next. The time has not yet come. 4870 still rocks and has enough juice to satisfy me. At least for a while.
6. Sapphire AMD Radeon R9 280x Dual-X OC Edition 
And… I finally gave in to this marvelous new GPU from AMD. R9 280x is a notch above everyone in competition and very close to mighty Nvidia Geforce GTX 770! For the price, this is certainly one of the best value. 3D performance in current-gen games is mindblowing! Not sure how this might handle 4K resolutions… but that is for next year!
I thought of making some interesting analysis (high level) on specifications of all these cards that I owned.
Just shows how the chipsets have evolved since 17 years (or more closely 13 years). Presented here in graph format. I’ve considered some of the major criteria that defines a GPU at a high level. Let’s begin!
That’s about it folks. For now. Might post some mid-level details soon.