GeForce 2 and 3: DOS and Windows 98 Powerhouses

In 2000, NVIDIA released the GeForce 2 series of dedicated graphics cards. In 2001, the GeForce 3 series was released. In this article, I'll discuss why these graphics cards are excellent for a hybrid DOS/Windows machine, and go over some tips when buying these cards.

Advances in Graphics Processing

Let's go back to the year 2000. This is the year we would see the debut of Intel's Pentium 4 and AMD's Thunderbird Athlon processors.

GeForce 2 (2000)

NVidia's GeForce 256 was already making waves on the scene, having been released the previous year in October. They already had a capable graphics processor that boasted hardware T&L, which was a steadily emerging demand from game developers and hardware enthusiasts alike. Their graphics processors were also very capable in DOS. Prior to that, the TNT2 and Riva TNT were just as capable.

Other companies were racing just as fast to dominate their preferred market segments. S3 released the Savage 2000 the previous November, in 1999. Nvidia released the GeForce 2 GTS in the middle of 2000, ATi released the first Radeon, 3dfx released the Voodoo 5, Matrox released the G450. All the big names seemed to have found ways to drastically increase the performance of their graphics processors this year.

The GeForce 2 would go on to win the hearts of many. We would eventually receive four models based on NV11: GeForce 2 GTS, GeForce 2 Pro, GeForce 2 Ti and GeForce 2 Ultra.

Despite the advancements of NVidia's competition, it was too difficult for many to keep up with NVidia and ATi. Even though the Voodoo 5 was met with critical acclaim, 3dfx went bankrupt and was sold to NVidia. After the disaster that was the Savage 2000, S3's graphics division was sold to Via. It's just as well that S3, a very popular company for OEMs to get their low cost graphics solutions from, sold out: NVidia would release the GeForce 2 MX later in 2000 to scoop up the remainder of the budget segment. So much came and went in the blink of an eye.

NVidia would follow up the next year with the Quadro2 line for workstations. The Quadro2 Pro remains one of the most performant cards of this generation. Its overclocking potential was demonstrated by PhilsComputerLab on YouTube.

GeForce 3 (2001)

The next big item on NVidia's list was to ability to utilize programmable shaders. The GeForce 3, based on the NV20 GPU, was released in 2001 with support for Shader Model 1.1 and DirectX 8. These capabilities were very important to rapidly advance the fidelity of realtime computer graphics. Doom 3 is one such game that makes heavy use of this technology.

The DOS speed and compatibility persisted into this generation of NVidia GPUs as well. We eventually received three versions of the GeForce 3: the standard model (simply named GeForce 3), the budget GeForce 3 Ti 200, and the enthusiast GeForce 3 Ti 500.

These cards also tend to have a DVI port in addition to the standard VGA port. DVI was considered an emerging technology at this point and wasn't found on any NVidia cards before it, nor many other manufacturers' products for that matter.

For workstations, the Quadro DCC would be released.

Onward (2002+)

NVidia would go on to release the GeForce 4 line, based on the NV25 GPU. However, in implementing a new memory architecture, DOS performance greatly suffered. It's possible that this was necessary in order to boost its other more modern capabilities, which would be understandable. After all, there wasn't much DOS software released in 2002.

DOS Performance

There are only a few chips from NVidia that should be considered for use in DOS machines for the best performance:

  • NV3 (Riva128)
  • NV4 (Riva TNT)
  • NV5 (Rive TNT2)
  • NV10 (GeForce 256)
  • NV11 (GeForce 2 MX)
  • NV15 (GeForce 2)
  • NV16 (GeForce 2 Ultra)
  • NV20 (GeForce 3)

The NV1 is the Diamond Edge and has rather unfortunate DOS compatibility. The NV17 and NV18, despite coming in between the GeForce 2 Ultra and the GeForce 3 when considering only NV numbering, have roots in the GeForce 4 as far as memory access goes, and suffer from the same greatly reduced performance as the GeForce 4 and later cards do.

P-Model List

P-model numbers have been on Nvidia PCBs for a while. This practice continued well into the thousands, but starts low. Sometimes looking for these part numbers nets you more results because people don't often know what these cards are.

The model and PCB codes refer to the PCB layout itself. The GPU that is mounted to the board may differ depending on binning. That's why multiple cards can be listed. A Quadro DCC will have the same PCB code as a GeForce 3, and the amount of RAM mounted to the card can also be different.

Model PCB code Description
P2 180-P0002 TNT2 M64 PCI
P3 180-P0003 GeForce 256 AGP
P9 180-P0009 TNT2 M64 AGP
P11 180-P0011 GeForce 256 AGP
P16 180-P0016 TNT2 Pro AGP
P17 180-P0017 TNT2 Vanta LT AGP
P19 180-P0019 TNT2 AGP
P20 180-P0020 GeForce 2 GTS AGP
P26 180-P0026 TNT2 Vanta 16 AGP
P30 180-P0030 GeForce 2 GTS AGP
P32 180-P0032 Quadro 2 Pro AGP
GeForce 2 Ultra AGP
P36 180-P0036 GeForce 2 MX AGP
P38 180-P0038 GeForce 2 MX AGP
P39 180-P0039 Quadro 2 MXR AGP
GeForce 2 MX AGP
P40 180-P0040 GeForce 2 MX AGP (Mac)
P41 180-P0041 GeForce 2 MX (Laptop)
P44 180-P0044 GeForce 2 MX AGP (Mac)
P48 180-P0048 GeForce 2 MX PCI
P50 180-P0050 Quadro DCC AGP
GeForce 3 AGP
P63 180-10063 GeForce 4 Go AGP
P64 180-10064 GeForce 4 Go AGP
P66 180-10066 GeForce 2 MX AGP (Mac)
P70 180-10070 GeForce 4 MX AGP
P72 180-10072 Quadro 4 Go (Laptop)
P73 180-10073 GeForce 4 MX AGP
P74 180-10074 GeForce 4 MX AGP (Mac)
P75 180-10075 GeForce 4 MX AGP
P78 180-10078 Quadro 4 XGL AGP
P79 180-10079 GeForce 4 MX AGP
P80 180-10080 Quadro 4 XGL AGP
P83 180-10083 GeForce 4 Ti AGP
P84 180-10084 GeForce 4 Ti AGP (Mac)
P85 180-10085 GeForce 4 Ti AGP
P104 180-10104 GeForce 4 MX AGP
P111 180-10111 Quadro NVS 280 AGP
P112 180-10112 Quadro 4 580 XGL AGP
P114 180-10114 GeForce 4 MX AGP (Mac)
P117 180-10117 GeForce 4 MX AGP
P162 180-10162 GeForce 4 MX440
GeForce FX 5200
GeForce FX 5500

OEM Model List

There's a number of models out there that may or may not be labeled as 'obvious' NVidia GeForce cards. Sometimes searching for the OEM model/part number yields results on auction sites that can't be found otherwise. Here's a list of cards I've encountered with their OEM model/part numbers.

GeForce Models
GPUModelOEM Model/Part Number(s)
GeForce MX 200 NV11 Gateway P60
GeForce MX NV11 Dell 03K538
Dell 03K595 (P36)
Dell 05G998
Dell 07D208 (P55)
HP P39AB03
HP P5687-69501
IBM 09K9692
IBM 22P1069
IBM 25P5848
MS-8826 (P36)
GeForce MX 400 NV11 Asus V7100PRO
Dell 03W694
HP P2075-69501
GeForce 2 GTS NV15 Asus V7700
Compaq 01E200-44571
Compaq 179642-001
Dell 0378TX
Dell 08IWYR
HP P1546-69001
HP P20LA04
GeForce 2 Pro NV15
GeForce 2 Ti NV15
GeForce 2 Ultra NV16 Dell 01F951
GeForce 3 Ti200 NV20 Asus V8200T2
Dell 04N857
Dell 07J062
GeForce 3 NV20 Dell 00C042 (P50)
GeForce 3 Ti500 NV20 Asus V8200T5
Dell 03J562
Quadro Models
GPUModelOEM Model Numbers
Quadro2 MXR NV11GL Dell 05F734
IBM 06P2361
Quadro2 EX NV11GL HP P39C02KB02
Quadro2 Pro NV15GL Compaq 225829-001
Dell 096VHW
Quadro DCC NV20GL

More to Come

There's more information to be added here! However, I've opened up this post so that others who are looking to build a powerful hybrid DOS/WIN98 machine will have more resources to work with.

Drivers and benchmarks will follow at a later date. Thanks for your patience!