Advantages Good value for money
Disadvantages Doesn't do anything fancy (is that really a bad thing?)
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|Ease of use|
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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!
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
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.
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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