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Best PCI graphics card for W98?

VERAULT

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Depending on use case and your definition of 'best', you might want to consider Matrox as well. They were considered high-end back then.

Its true a Matrox Mystique with rainbow runner daughter board was pretty hot stuff in.. 1996-1997?
 

GiGaBiTe

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I have three different Matrox cards (Mystique, MGA Millennium II and a G200.)

The only thing they were good at is 2D Windows acceleration. Many DOS games had horrible incompatibility issues (especially the BUILD engine games like Duke 3D and Shadow Warrior.)

3D acceleration was basically non-existent. Matrox was even worse at OpenGL support than ATI was, and Direct3D support was pretty bad as well. Attempting to run Windows games usually resulted in a very slow grainy mess, usually with rendering artifacts like missing faces, missing lightmaps and corrupt textures.

2D games were generally fine, like isometric games of the time (Sim City, Command and Conquer, etc.)
 

dr.zeissler

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btw. a 6200-PCI is a killer card when it comes to retro except the shitty lowres-vga-mode dvi output and the none calibrated vga output on textmode and lowres vga/ega.
if you like a blurry dvi-output the nv-6200 is by far the fastest/featured win9x retro-card you can get. It can display the radeon-techdemos up to 9700/9800 and the reef-demo from matrox.
 

dr.zeissler

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Its true a Matrox Mystique with rainbow runner daughter board was pretty hot stuff in.. 1996-1997?

I really love those matrox-cards. You can get a patched bios for the old ones to get better compatibility.
For VESA und can use univbe for mil/mys and from G100 upwards you have vesa-driver from matrox.

Compatinilty for old OS and GUI's are excellent on matrox. Image-Quality on TFT is reference!
Combinung a matrox with a voodoo-card is an excellent choice. If you have more power PIII+ you should go for a radeon card.

Older Nvidia-Stuff is BAD. Mostly due to the Image-Qualit. From 6200+ lowres-vga is also blurry...

From R7000 and above image quality is also reference. The R7000 is a bit more compatible than the R92x0.
I am currently using the diamond r9250/256MB-128BitSI and this thing is FAST!

I turned everything in the drivers to maximum, installed S3TC were possible and it's fantastic, never looked UT99/unreal etc. better then this.

Excellent!
 

Casey

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I can tell you I myself had a couple voodoo 2 cards running in SLI mode. Yes they run in tandom with you 2d card, but I ran those until about 2001, They never let me down. A pci voodoo 3 card is also a good choice for 98 era games.

Good to know. The only PCI video card I have right now is the voodoo 2. My Voodoo 3 3000 is AGP.

My 386 & 486 systems back then were ISA only. Didn't have PCI until I built a Pentium system.
 

Agent Orange

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Depending on use case and your definition of 'best', you might want to consider Matrox as well. They were considered high-end back then.

Can you provide us with a little more info on your system; i.e. motherboard, RAM, monitor, etc.
 

Ethan Connor

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Jun 19, 2021
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Nvidia cards are highly recommended because their drivers were well supported and are still easily obtainable. Geforce 2 MX cards and Ti4200 cards are popular, and super cheap (although I think the Ti4200 was AGP-only). FYI, the newest Nvidia card to have Win98SE drivers are the 6000-series.
 

TShackleton

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May 8, 2021
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Best is pretty subjective... Are you asking for all out performance or something stable and well tested? If you are gaming S3 trio/virge cards were popular and well supported in that era. You'll have no trouble finding drivers and supported software. If not, even a trident, or cirrus logic card would be fine. Those are solid and well supported in most operating systems under generic VESA modes. The original matrox millennium cards are nice too, rarer, pricier... I am not sure why you'd put a 3d accelerator in a machine with a first gen Pentium.
 

maxtherabbit

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Every PCI VGA card I tested in my SiS 496 based system worked fine.Do bear in mind that none of these were 3d accelerators (unless you count an S3 ViRGE) so YMMV
 

Flamin Joe

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Jul 24, 2013
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Brisbane, Australia
I am not sure why you'd put a 3d accelerator in a machine with a first gen Pentium.

Why wouldn't you? 3D accelerators started coming out in 1995 and continued to gather momentum over the proceeding years while the Pentium was still in it's prime. My very first 3D accelerator in 1996 was on a Pentium 100 which was more than enough to enjoy the limited 3D titles that were available at the time. The second card I ever owned was in 1997 on a now upgraded Pentium 200 MMX.

So plenty of gamers of that era were quite happily running their 3D accelerators on Pentiums.
 

TShackleton

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May 8, 2021
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Why wouldn't you?

I mean, you can... but many of the cards suggested weren't of the p1 era, which is why I chimed into an older thread. Many hardware accelerated games required MMX at least (is a P233-MMX, a first gen? that's another question...), and any of them would benefit greatly from the FPU in the p6+. At the time the 3dfx boards, were by far the most popular accelerator and just a passthru anyways. I put a voodoo2 in my p200 system back in the day too, and I promptly upgraded to an overclocked celeron because of it. The fastest or even most featureful card, may not be the best, especially with these early 3d cards, API support was all over the place, drivers were terrible, they required tons of OS patches, etc... and then your hamstrung by an underpowered processor. So I'm not sure why you'd build a P1 for 3d gaming, and if your not gaming, I think a more mainstream video card would be a better choice in many situations. That's just my opinion, since you asked. :)
 

GiGaBiTe

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Many hardware accelerated games required MMX at least

Not true at all. MMX was poorly received and took years to gain any market share because of the problems it had. One of the major sticking points was that it reused x87 registers, meaning that you couldn't run x87 and MMX code at the same time, you had to pick one or the other, or do some real micro managing and context switching that significantly slowed the CPU down. Games did eventually start becoming MMX aware, and some did take advantage of MMX, but not to the degree it was a night and day performance benefit. Games also almost never explicitly required MMX, because that would have been suicide as a game developer.

Back in those days, you had at least five different CPU manufacturers, all with their own abilities beyond just being x86 and x87 compatible. MMX was initially an Intel only technology, which means you'd wipe out a huge chunk of your potential install base for no real performance benefit, which is why MMX as a requirement was few and far between.

Many game developers did latch on to the MMX buzzword though, as Intel was heavily advertising it as being this magical thing that would make your PC faster and better, which was a lie. But their BS marketing campaign made the general public think that it was something better, and companies would just slap the MMX logo on their software to increase sales.

(is a P233-MMX, a first gen? that's another question...), and any of them would benefit greatly from the FPU in the p6+.

No, the Pentium MMX was not a first generation Pentium, that belongs to the original P5 core released back in March of 1993 that was on Socket 4 and ran at speeds of 60 or 66 MHz. The Pentium MMX is the P55C, the fifth major revision of the P5 architecture.

Also, the P6 is an entirely different architecture from the P5, and no, games at the time did not benefit from it. The P6 architecture had performance problems with mixed 8/16 bit and 16/32 bit code that made it slower in general compared to a P5 arch Pentium at the same clock speed. In pure 32 bit code on the other hand, the Pentium Pro was faster, especially the variants with large caches, like the 1M 200 MHz "black top" versions.
 

stamasd

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Apr 28, 2014
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greater NYC area
FWIW, I have a Matrox G200 PCI working just fine in a 486 PCI motherboard (using a DX4ODPR100 overdrive, which is still a 486 not a pentium-class CPU).
 

Unknown_K

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I have a bunch of Matrox cards and they are best for non gaming (except the G400max which was a good gaming card).

I remember when I ran out and got my fist Pentium board I purchased a boxed Millinium 1 from a local computer show and was very happy with it. Eventually I paired it with a Voodoo 1 Orchid the second I could mail order it (then waited for game patches to actually use it).

Anyway for PCI for Win98 I suggest a PCI 3dfx Voodoo 3 3000 PCI, a Nvidia Riva 128 (probably better for a W95 rig and great for DOS), Matrox G200, Nvidia TNT PCI, Voodoo 4 4500 PCI, possibly a Kyro PCI and maybe a Radeon 7000 PCI.
The voodoo 4 4500 is stupid expensive and rare.
 

Plasma

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Nov 7, 2005
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Best of all time or best that's period-correct? I had a TNT PCI back in the day and it worked great. But there were later/faster cards that still had 9x drivers for several years after XP came out.
 

Peter z80.eu

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Apr 21, 2016
Messages
65
My Super Socket 7 System (with an AMD K6-2/400) executes DirectX 8 (with W98) games with the help of an PCI ATI All-in-Wonder 128 Pro (Rage 128) perfectly smooth.
I guess a more modern graphics card with more VRAM is overkill for an old Pentium (1) system. A card with 4-16MB (or may be 32MB) VRAM would be enough.
 
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