I had Riva128 back in the day and was totally turned off by it's very obvious blurry 2D. It really was the worst 2D quality (not speed, that was great) that I had ever seen.
Yeah, once I bought a TNT2 with exactly the same problem. It was unuseable for anything better than 640x480@60Hz. I returned it on the next day and exchanged it for a slightly more expensive TNT2, which was perfect. Probably depends on the manufacturer.
About the "strange/exotic" VGA cards: Back in the days users played tons of games for years with these cards and never noticed any fault. After all, it's just a minority of games which suffer from non-perfect VGA chips. People didn't have the knowledge to judge the finer technical details; many of my old pals played through the whole DOS era with a Trident 8900 and didn't complain 🤣
If you're building a retro-rig it's a bit different, since you want all the components to be as compatible and fast as possible, but it still depends what you want to do with it. For ancient EGA games and scene demos a Matrox is quite a nightmare, on the other hand it performs very well in Windows 3.11/9x 2D games and the VGA signal quality is not to be sneezed at.