Aztech – Riva TNT2 review

AGP nVidia Riva TNT2 2D/3D card
Photo of Aztech – Riva TNT2
£119

If you take your PC gaming a little more seriously than most, inevitably nVidia’s TNT2 3D graphics chipset will be on your short-list. Since the late spring it’s been the chipset which has taken over from the 3Dfx Voodoo as the 3D gameplay benchmark for PCs and it’s also the chipset that Aztech has chosen to power its flagship graphics card.

The version of Aztech’s Riva TNT2 card we reviewed included a TV-out feature which means you can use either a composite video or higher quality S-video lead in order to watch your gameplay on a large TV screen, or even record it on video to show off to your mates later. Aztech’s card has the full 128-bit frame buffer – beware of some other markedly slower TNT2 cards based on the much cheaper 64-bit version of the chipset. Apart from that, Aztech has chosen a standard implementation of the TNT2 chipset. The memory bus speed is 150MHz, which is about par, and the RAMDAC, which turns frame data in to the monitor signal, is rated at 300MHz – again, about average for the class. 32MB of SDRAM is fitted, which means resolutions and colour depths all the way up to 2048×1536 pixels in 64,000 colours are technically possibly.

There is a faster ‘Ultra’ version of the TNT2 chipset, which means the graphics processor has been clocked at 150MHz or higher. There is no ‘Ultra’ branding from Aztech and our benchmarking results, combined with the lack of a tell-tale cooling fan on the processor to supplement its heat sink, would confirm Aztech has chosen the standard 125MHz part.

As a rough guide, running Quake II, for example, you will get around 30 percent more frames per second than either the ATI Rage 128 or S3 Savage 4-based cards we have reviewed recently. The TNT2 chip set has no major omissions in its support for cutting edge 3D game standards and is a strong contender in most departments. We’d have liked to see more on the supplied CD than just the drivers – there’s no DVD player, no bundled games or even demos. Auratek, the UK importers, suggested that their retail version will include some bundled software but they weren’t able to say what.

Company: Aztech

Contact: 08709 039390


Verdict
The Aztech Riva TNT2 is reasonably priced if you want TV-out, but otherwise there are cheaper TNT2 cards without this feature. Just 3-4 months ago, this would have been a leading edge card, but now nVidia is about to unleash its remarkable Geo 256 successor to TNT2, albeit at double the price. Nevertheless, the TNT2 is still a very strong chip set, so it's a safe good-value buy for the short term.