I have had an assortement of graphics cards with different chips throughout the years, although I no longer remember which systems I used some of them in. Looking over the history, it seems I missed out on graphics cards from S3, Number Nine and Rendition.
My first graphics card upgrade was a Matrox Millenium II with 4 MB VRAM, which I got some time in the mid 1990s. It had an upgrade socket that allowed to upgrade the VRAM to 8 or 16 MB. At that time 4 MB was considered a huge amount of RAM on a graphics card. I am reminded of a sales person in a computer store, who some time in the early 1990s advised against using a graphics card with more than 1 MB of VRAM because it would supposedly cause image corruption.
Then came the new wave of accelerated 3D graphics. That was the golden age of PowerVR and 3Dfx. In the beginning if you wanted 3D accelerated graphics, you had to use an add-on card, in addition to your main 2D graphics card. I used have an Orchid Righteous 3D at some point, which I think used a 3Dfx chip and then later I got a Matrox M3D add-on accelerator, which used the PowerVR PCX2 chip. That was the first and only time Matrox made a graphics card using another company's chip. Matrox was also the only graphics chip manufacturer that never outsourced their own chips to other board-makers.
Some time in the second half of 1998 I got a Matrox Millenium G200. In either late 1998 or 1999 I upgraded to a pair of Creative 3D Blaster Voodoo 2 cards. It was my first SLI setup.
I also remember having a Matrox Millenium G450 at one point, although I no longer remember when.
In year 2000 I remember having a GeForce 256 and then a Creative 3D Blaster GeForce 2 Ultra for a brief period.
In 2002 I got a Creative GeForce Ti4600. I even remember ordering it from Creative's own online store. I sold it a year or two later and bought an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro, which I used for a few years, until it stopped working. Games which I remember completing on the Radeon 9800 Pro were Return to Castle Wolfenstein (2001) and Unreal II (2002). After the 9800 Pro stopped working, I could not afford replacing it with another high-end card, so I had to use an ATI Radeon 9250 that I had lying around. After that I replaced the 9250 with a GeForce FX 5600 from my dad's computer. I used the FX 5600 in my Intel Pentium 4 3.0 GHz & Windows XP system up until I got my current high-end system in February 2012.
From February 2012 to June 2012 I had a Sapphire HD6670 Ultimate, which I very recently sold.
And now I have an Asus HD7970 DC2...and that's the history of my graphics cards from the mid 1990s up until 2012.
1) An ISA interface something or other 8MB (come on, it was back in 1995)
2) A 16MB S3 Virge
3) nVidia something or other, weak little card which couldn't even play Halo smoothly
4) Abit (then Sapphire after RMA) Radeon 9600XT - which COULD play Halo smoothly, but not Morrowind
5) Sapphire Radeon X800GT - BIOS flashed to unlock the additional 4 pixel paths, still had issues with Morrowind
6) Sapphire Radeon X1950GT AGP - heavily overclocked, COULD actually play Morrowind without dropping under 60 fps!
7) Sapphire Radeon X1950GT PCIe - Replaced when my AthlonXP crapped out (or burnt out...) and switched to PCIe and an Athlon64
8) Sapphire Radeon HD 2900Pro - Overclocked past HD 2900XT levels but didn't notice any more power from the X1950, blew my PSU at the time (a Tt), switched to SeaSonic
9) Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 - The power! Great for 1600x1200, but coughed with my new 1920x1200 screen
10) Sapphire Radeon HD 4850x2 - Even more power! And loud as a 747, and still struggled at times, GDDR3 held it back with such high res
11) Sapphire Radeon HD 5970 - Bought it the day of availability, more than enough power for a single 1920x1200 screen, no plans to replace
That's my history, just praying my 5970 doesn't crap out before I get a job, 2 year warranty was up in November of last year and I didn't buy it with my AmEx card for the additional 1 year warranty...
Mkissner - Gotta remember that Morrowind was (and still is) a great game, superior to Oblivion and Skyrim, especially with the graphics update packs, and it is a very graphically intense game. In a time before Crysis and even FEAR, not much else required as much graphics power.
I'll agree being superior to Oblivion.. But not Skyrim. To each his own I suppose. <3 me some elderscrolls either way.
I also forgot....
The Voodoo 3 Video card
The Voodoo 5 Video Card
And before those two I had some generic 2mb display card... I can't even think of what It was. I had it attached to my 486 with its 133mhz CPU and 14mb of memory. 1.2gb HDD.. I do remember that though. That was my first PC.
More history... Seeing the Voodoo 5 being mentioned reminded me of something: Remember the Voodoo 5 6000 that 3Dfx announced but never released? It was supposed to have had four Voodoo chips on one card and a total of 128 MB VRAM. I remember 3Dfx's announcement which said something like "...and a total of 128 MB VRAM...yes, you read that right...128 MB!!!". Haha. Back then 128 MB was an unbelievable and highly impressive amount of RAM to have on a graphics card.
I wonder why nobody ever thought of putting four GPUs on a single card again. Imagine a Radeon "HD7999" with four 7970 chips stuffed onto a single card and a total of 12 GB of GDDR5 RAM. :-)
This was the good olden days when graphics cards did not even have a heatsink and the RAMDAC was a seperate chip on the card.
It is a shame 3Dfx and Number Nine are no longer around and that Matrox left the consumer market. The late 1990s and early 2000s were exciting times for 3D graphics. So many new and interesting products. Now only two companies left...not much fun.
My history is surprisingly similar to your own. You compel me to write a bit of a novella.
I bought my first IBM-style PC in late 1992 (had Coleco Adam and Commodore 128 before that), a 486DX2/66 system which had a 1MB Cirrus Logic ISA graphics card.
My first graphics upgrade after that was a Diamond Viper Pro VLB, based on the Weitek P9100 chip, which had an astonishing 4MB of VRAM, used the blindingly fast VESA Local Bus, and allowed me to run at the gigantic resolution of 1024x768 in 24-bit color. I used OS/2 back then, with an equally huge 32MB of RAM (which cost me $1600 by itself - the Viper Pro was about $550).
Then, when I finally moved up to a Pentium/200 system, I got a Matrox Millennium PCI card, also with 4MB of VRAM. It cost less than half what the Diamond did.
At some point after that, I moved to a Pentium II/233 system, and in early 1998 got a Matrox Millennium II AGP and a Matrox M3D.
Maybe a year later, I got a STB BlackMagic 3D Voodoo2 card, and shortly thereafter, a second one on eBay for the original SLI setup.
I moved to a Pentium 3/550 in 2000, and got my first combined 2D/3D card in mid 2001 - a STB Voodoo5 5500 AGP card (4X, no less - slightly faster than a PCIe 1.0 4-lane slot).
When the Voodoo5 died in mid-2002, I got an ATI Radeon 8500 64MB (ATI brand - back when they actually made cards). It was unable to do more than 60Hz on my non-DDC monitor, so I put that in another machine and got a Gainward GeForce4 Ti4200 128MB. Still AGP, since PCIe hadn't been released yet, much less widely adopted.
When the GeForce4 was starting to seem a bit long in the tooth, I got an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro, which had been out a while already. I had moved to an AMD XP 2700+ system in the fall of 2003.
That served until mid-2006, when I got a Radeon X850 XTX, and moved to a XP 3500+ due to system stability problems (bumping the case would cause a hard reset).
The X850 had been out even longer than the 9800 was, and it was at the end of 2006 that I did another full system upgrade, including my first contemporary high-end graphics card - the newly released GeForce 8800GTX. I also got my first 30" monitor at this point.
While the 8800GTX performed well, the XP drivers had a bug that was never fixed - the ability to use fixed aspect ratio GPU scaling did not work. Since 30" monitors (all at the time, almost all today) have no built-in scaler, the graphics card has to scale all resolutions to 2560x1600. When it's a game that only supports 4:3 resolutions, this gets stretched without a fixed aspect ratio, and looks terrible. I had to resort to playing some games in a window.
After nearly two years of broken drivers, in December of 2008, I picked up a Radeon 4870 X2 card. GPU scaling worked perfectly. About 7 months later, I got a second 4870 X2 card. That was, and is, a lot of GPU power, and most games worked well with it. The few cases of lackluster performance I ran into were attributable to my high resolution with only 1GB of graphics memory.
In September 2010, I got a XFX 5970 Black Edition 4GB, which died March this year. I then got a Gigabyte 7970 with triple fans. A bit slower than the 5970, but one hell of a lot quieter.
At some point, I may move to water cooling and get a second 7970, or the dual-GPU card if that ever comes out. But that's it for now.
First a Voodoo 1 then a Voodoo 2 or was it 2 then 3?? Hmm
Radeon DDR64 VIVO with tuner
Then another Radeon 9700
Radeon 9800 (warranty replacement)
Sapphire Radeon 1950pro (still using it in spare computer)
3870x2 (sold to buddy, still in use)
5870 (solid performer.. definitely a keeper).
#1: Phenom II C2 955BE @ 3.6, Antec Kuhler 920, Gigabyte GA-MA790FX-DS5, Asus 5870/V2, ASUS Xonar D2X, 4 x 1gig OCZ2N1066SR2GK @800, Antec Truepower New 750, Arc Midi, Win8pro x64 upgrade #2: Athlon 64 X2 4200+, AGP 1950pro, Audigy 2, Asus A8V-D, 2gig ram, Enermax 465P, Antec900. Now on Win8pro cat 10.2
Hope you all don't mind my bumping this. Just wanted to add my part.
Let's see ... going back to the late '80s with my Turbo XT clone ... that had a CGA card in it ... probably doesn't count, but hey, coming from an Apple //e that had a monochrome monitor, I thought it was the cat's meow that I could now play Test Drive with three colors.
Next, my 486 had a 1 MB Trident VGA card.
Then my Pentium/120 had a Diamond Stealth, to which I eventually added a Monster 3Dfx card.
My 1.0 GHz Windows 98 box then had a GeForce 2. It was eventually replaced with a GeForce FX 5200. Yeah, not a powerful gaming card, but it didn't have any problems running the games I already had, like Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Quake II.
Next up: Core 2 Duo system with a GeForce 8600 GTS. Then upgraded to Core 2 Quad, a GeForce 9600 GT, then a GTX 280.
My next two cards, along with a CPU upgrade to a Phenom II X6, were an HIS Radeon HD 5870 and 6970.
Which brings me to my current card: a Gigabyte 7950.
AMD FX-8350 Black Edition | ASUS M5A99FX PRO | Corsair HX850W | 16 GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3 1866 | Western Digital Caviar Black 2.0 TB SATA-3 | Seagate Barracuda 1.0 TB SATA-3 | Samsung DVD +/- RW (SATA) | LG Blu-ray drive (SATA) | Gigabyte 7950 Windforce | Hanns.G HG281D 27" LCD | Creative Sound Blaster Z | Cooler Master HAF XM | Logitech G510 | Razer Imperator | Windows 8 Pro x64