Lots of good information here and in the supplied threads -- thanks, all! Interesting to see the 128bit lines of Quadro FX600 and the FX5200 / 5500 / 5600 have all been used for similar benchmarks and some gaming, which is on par with what I was looking for.
My question for you is, do you want a proper work horse time period card for your pentium 4 or a showpony that might score higher results in newer games but pointless because they're unplayable anyway?
Summed it up a few times above, but I think some posters may have missed it. Haven't mentioned an fps limit though: I'm looking for a machine that, at the bare minimum, can play a good number of period-appropriate games (2001 - 2006) at their lowest graphical settings and achieve somewhere around 25fps or above. That's a playable speed for me.
I would prefer to use a card from the time, such as the recommended FX-series cards and some of the ATI cards. At the time, I was an AMD / ATI fanboy (when the two were separate), and strictly used their products. In this case, since I have a P4 machine, and didn't use one much at the time, I'd like to use an nVidia card, just to mirror my experience from the time. In this case, that also includes performance level, since my setup of the time was a gaming rig with an oc'd 2500+ Barton and oc'd 9600XT AGP.
I unbox the computer on Feb 1, at which point I'm going to check one thing first: see if it can post to PCI VGA. Looks like some of the supplied threads have had folks encounter an issue where their BIOS wouldn't post using a PCI graphics card, but that appeared more to do with late-model P4 mobos that had AGP. I'll retrieve the other specs too while I'm at it; very curious as to how late-model my P4 / mobo are. There were many mass-market computers of the time with a "Designed for Windows XP" sticker that also said "Vista ready" or something like that. This one doesn't have that, but it does have the modern Intel sticker, which came out in 2005. Given it seems like a business machine, that could have something to do with it.
Anyway the tldr for the op is that if you decide to stick with the project, the best(as in fastes and available and compatib […]
Anyway the tldr for the op is that if you decide to stick with the project, the best(as in fastes and available and compatible) PCI card you can get for pure DOS - TNT2 or its cheaper M64 version, for Windows98 - 128bit FX5200/FX600(/5600/5700) or whatever you can get(Gef 6200 tend to crop up too, that would be FX5700 level, but people had problems with Win98 era stuff and its newer drivers), for XP possibly GT520/610/430 or 9500GT
PCI graphics cards are slower than their AGP/PCI-E versions for sure but not unusable. I played Half Life 2, CounterStrike Condition Zero(with 8x aniso and even some AA 😎 ), and W40k Dawn of War on a PCI FX5600 256MB in late 2006 with no problems when the main card was under replacement, and even played a small stealth mission map of Men of War Assault Squad 2 on a GT610 1GB not too long ago.
One advantage to my target setup is it won't play games or use an OS before or after its time, so strictly XP and games designed with XP in mind -- that keeps the window narrow and manageable. Already got a Win98 and Win2000 machine, so late DOS games and the late 90s are covered.
Admittedly, I do see the GT610 crop up a lot, but I'm going to have to do more specific research comparing its gaming performance between the FX cards of the period. If the performance advantage / disadvantage isn't too great, I will likely seek out a 128bit FX card. Depending on final verdict, I may opt for both cards and benchmark them (gaming only, no 3DMark) back to back, just to see what they're like. Though stats already exist for the two separately, as I've seen.
It's all food for thought. I'll come up with a verdict in a week or two and report back. Any further input is welcome, of course.
Asus P3B-F 1.04, PIII 1.0GHz, 512MB PC133, V5 5500 AGP, SB0160
Asus P3B-F 1.03, PIII 933, 384MB PC133, GeForce DDR 32MB, SB0100
CP 5170, PIII 500, 256MB PC100, DM3DII 12MB, ESS 1868
PB M S610, PMMX 233, 64MB PC100, DM3D 4MB, Sound4