Also check the multi-display page!
YOU NEED TO KNOW that FS98 and FS2000 actually provides 3D support through DirectX 6.0 and 7.0. As such, you will realize 3D acceleration benefits from virtually any 3D accelerator that is DirectX compatible. It is not so much that FS directly supports a card, it supports the API, which in turn relies on driver compatibility.
Microsoft Flight Simulator needs a 3D accelerator of the latest generation.
You will need Voodoo3000 pr Voodoo5000 board to give most military sims (based on 3dfx) good performance and image quality. But using those 3D dedicated boards for FS98 and FS2000 you will not be able anymore to have FS98/FS2000 in a window in 3D mode. This is very annoying if you want to write messages in multiplayer mode. The simulator only can run in 2D during multiplayer sessions or using 2D flight planners.
The 32Mb TNT2 boards (like the now cheap Viper770) and the latest Geforce2 (the top end ASUS V7700) are giving best overall performance for FS98 and FS2000.
Current available boards
These two chipsets are the best available at this moment (September 99)for FS98/FS2000.
The Riva 128 TNT build in the Viper 550 (TNT 16Mb) and STB Riva128 board will get it's successor in the TNT2, released in April/May 1999. It is a very good board with 32MB SDRAM.
Adding support for AGP 4x should help further increase the performance of the TNT architecture which relies heavily on AGP transfer and always has, with AGP 4x the bandwidth is a massive 1Gb/sec, while this doesn't compare to the onboard rate of more than double 2.4Gb/sec it is quite impressive and coupled with the support for 2048 x 2048 textures it'll make the TNT2 a hell of a capable piece in terms of delivering splendid visuals. AGP 4x is supported by the latest motherboards.
Check this site out giving you detailled information.
Nvidia released the TNT2 board in May 1999. Diamond released the Viper770 on May 3rd and the Viper 770 Ultra (with a slightly higher speed) on May 25th 1999. You can order the boards directly from Diamond. The will be FedEx-ed all over the world.
ATI Rage 128
Ati already released this one. It's also a AGP 4x board with 32Mb. First looks are reporting lot's of problems, probably due to the bad drivers included. Performance will be better with new drivers. It's the first released board of this new generation.
NVIDIA released the GeForce 256, otherwise known as the NV10.
The GeForce 256 GPU is an immensely complex device with nearly 23 million transistors, more than twice the complexity of the Pentium III microprocessor.
Nvidia: "GeForce 256 supports up to 128MB of frame buffer memory, AGP 4X with Fast Writes – a unique feature in GeForce 256 – and a 350MHz RAMDAC to drive the most extreme resolutions and color depths, up to 2048 x 1536 @ 75Hz. The combination of broad support for the features exposed by the Direct3D 7.0 API, blazingly fast performance, and consumer-friendly prices will enable software developers to realize their creative visions and deliver exciting new entertainment experiences to Windows users everywhere."
The GeForce has been released in October 1999. What the advantage for FSxx and similar games/simulations will be, remains to be seen: the improved geometry performance of the news chips is of limited use to FS, and with regard to texture fillrates the leap ahead is not as impressive. (Thanks to Jaap Korteweg...)
First reports confirmed this. The first Geforce256 boards gave no improvement in framerate for FS2000.
The latest boards like the ASUS V6800 DDR seem to give great improvements however.
NVidia released the new detonator 3 driver in August 2000, giving a much better performance for gaming, like FS2000. The detonator driver package works for all Nvidia based graphical boards, TNT, TNT2, GeForce, Geforce 2. You can download this from this page.
Conclusion about video boards
You may be convenient with what you have now but with a good 3D card, you will double your frame rate, even at higher color and display resolution! Frame rates can jump from 4 (in 3D mode) to 21 frames per second with 16 bit color at 1024 x 768. But don't run to the shop and buy a new 3D board. Just wait a few weeks, read some tests and ask for a 3Dfx board which can handle both 2D and 3D. Great boards are the Matrox G400 32Mb Max and the Diamond Viper 770. The latest boards seems to be good. The biggest advantage of the new 4x AGP boards like Viper 770 will be reached using the newest generation Motherboards supporting this 4x AGP. Also keep an eye on the latest Geforce256 DDR based boards like the ASUS V6800 DDR. Expensive but really high end.
Important epilogue: Don't sell your old graphical board if you bought a new one! Using Windows 98 you will be able to fly in multiscreen mode. With a old color monitor for the panels or the flight planner you would regret not having two video boards anymore.....
Luciano Napolitano release a neat program, WideView98, which makes the use of Multimonitors a bit easier. Read the doc first.
And a last hint: visit this Flight Simulator benchmark site. See what Mobo and Graphical device matches best.
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