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The adVANTAge of being a real person

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08.10.2002

Advantages:
Good value for money

Disadvantages:
Doesn't do anything fancy (is that really a bad thing?)

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

Speed

Stability

Ease of Installation

Picture Quality

Value For Money

Ease of useVery easy

Instruction manualSatisfactory

Memory / capacityGood

Manufacturer SupportSatisfactory

5 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
very helpful by (100%):
  1. Anfield
  2. stevie-boy
  3. ironfrost
and 11 other members

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People tend to knock some of the older technology for a variety of reasons.

"It slows down my dual P-IV processor system," I hear you cry.

"Ha! It doesn't have T&L," you scoff.

"I don't bloody care," I scream back ...

Sadly, not everyone has the means or requirements for the latest video processing technology from the two market leaders, ATI and NVIDIA. Nor do we all want the fastest and bestest thing around to beat my mates ... yes, we've all been through the "my computer is better than yours" argument and some of us have even outgrown it.

Today there is simply no getting away from the ATI Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce series of cards. Almost every month sees a magazine review of a card based around one of these processors. If not, then you're usually greeted with numerous ads for these infernal things. Don't get me wrong, I'd love one ... and am still waiting for someone to buy one for me!

For the time being, I'm quite happy where I am with a 2 year old 16Mb NVIDIA Vanta AGP card manufactured by Taiwanese producers, Jetway.

To give some proper indication of the performance of the card, I'd better give the specs of the system it's running under ...

Processor: AMD Athlon 650Mhz (Slot A)
Memory: 256Mb PC-100
Hard Disk: Western Digital Caviar 18Gb
DVD/CD-ROM: Toshiba 4x4x24 DVD/CD-RW Combo Drive
Audio: Yamaha Waveforce 192XG
Other Hardware: E-IDE ZIP Drive
OS: Windows XP Professional


Ease of Installation
--------------------
The Jetway card was originally installed when I had Windows 98 running on the machine. As with most video cards, it was a simple process of fitting the hardware (in this case, replacing an 8Mb S3 Savage) and installing the drivers. The installation process on 98 was simple and was performed without difficulty.

When I upgraded to XP, it was even simpler as XP automatically detected the video chip. However, there was a problem in running some games but this wasn't due to the card. XP does not include OpenGL drivers. However, downloading and installing the newest NVIDIA Detonator drivers fixed the problem.


Performance
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This seems to be where some people seem to be missing the point. I was very intrigued by the previous op on this chipset as that person's experience of the chip did not tally with mine. I can only imagine that he either did not install the product correctly, that it was from a rather poorly designed card from an obscure manufacturer, that NVIDIA had not straightened out their drivers at the time or he had (for some unfathomable reason) downgraded from a RIVA TNT2 rather than an original RIVA TNT. Whatever the reason, we have a massive difference of opinion.

In relative terms, the S3 Savage in the machine previously was no slouch but I felt I needed something a little more powerful to keep up with the processor upgrade. However, I didn't have much money to spend so opted for the Vanta at a reasonable £35. I immediately noticed the difference when playing Grand Prix 3. The available resolutions were higher than I'd been used to and so was the frame rate.

What really struck me as to how underrated this processor actually is, was when I decided to try out Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (which I completed in 3 days!). I was a little shocked at the spec the game needed. My Athlon wasn't that far above the threshold and the readme file that came on the disc warned that there could be problems when running the game on an NVIDIA Vanta. A friend had also warned that it could be jerky since he'd tried it out on someone else's machine with similar specs to mine.

Anyway, I persevered. But before long I began to wonder what was wrong ... no jerkiness, no graphical flaws, just very smooth gameplay.

Now, there is something which could make all the difference with this chip. There appears to be a major increase in performance under Windows XP as opposed to 98. This may be because the drivers have moved on a bit since the chip was first introduced, or it could simply be that XP is a much improved and streamlined OS in some of the more critical areas. Windows 98 screen and window refreshes could be slow and noticeable in some higher resolutions but these are gone in XP.

A 16Mb VANTA is currently available from Jungle.com at £24 and the 32Mb card at £32 (this one has had 44 positive reviews from buyers). These offer exceptional value for money if you have an older system where the extra features of a GeForce MX would be wasted. I'm certainly in no hurry to upgrade at the moment.

So what's the advantage of being a "real" person? You haven't a pocketful of cash to throw away and so don't turn your nose up at little gems like this.
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Comments about this review »

stevie-boy 10.10.2002 01:36

I picked up a bargain on a VGA card last X-mas. It was a Geforce 2mx 400 with 64mb Ram and TV-out all for the bargain price of £43-99 at our local computer dealers! Good op Steve

ironfrost 08.10.2002 16:05

The price is pretty good, but for only a little more money you can pick up a Geforce2 card that, although they're a bit old now, will still outperform this card by miles. It's good that you're happy with your system, but if you try putting a nicer graphics card in you'll see a big difference.

Collingwood21 08.10.2002 13:11

This could even be understood be a techno-dunce like me!

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Product Information »

Manufacturer's product description

NVIDIA Vanta LT offers the highly integrated, 128-bit NVIDIA TNT2 3D graphics processor for the budget-minded user....

General

MPN 216078-B21
Device Type Graphics card
Bus Type AGP 2x

Memory

Size 8 MB / 8 MB (max)

Show all Product Information

More reviews »

NVIDIA Vanta LT - review by LMcShera

Quote-start Avoid at all costs Quote-start

somewhat helpful

Review Ratings »

This review of NVIDIA Vanta LT has been rated:

"very helpful" by (100%):

  1. Anfield
  2. stevie-boy
  3. ironfrost

and 11 other members

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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