My Graphics Cards

Over the years I have amassed a fairly good collection of graphics cards (video cards). This page catalogues these. One advantage of having these is that it allows me to put together a "period correct" retro system, regardless of the period I choose. Of course you could always over-do it by putting in something that would have only existed several years later and you'd get an amazing system, but that's just not "right".

The Super VGA cards below are listed by chipset maker rather than OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) if the card is using a 3rd-party chipset, otherwise the card manufacturer is listed. For Hercules, CGA and EGA cards in my collection, click here.

       
 

 

S3 Cards

S3 aren't really a graphics card manufacturer - they make the chipset at the heart of the card, but this really makes up so much of what the card's capabilities are, we're calling these S3 cards.

 


S3 86C805 (on an Orchid Fahrenheit VA/VLB card, ca. 1990)
Bought as part of a bundle in 2014 for £48 incl. STB, Ahead & Trident cards


S3 Vision964 (on a Number Nine GXE64 Pro PCI card, ca. 1994)
Can't recall where I picked this up


S3 Trio 64V+, ca. 1995
Part of a bundle in 2019 for £67 incl. Slot 1 mobo, 2xSB cards, ATI Radeon, 2x net cards

ViRGE/DX (on a Yakumo 4 MB PCI card), ca. 1997
Can't recall where I picked this up


Trio 3D/2X (on an ACorp ST-362A AGP 2x card, ca. 1999)
Bought in 2020 for £9.49


Savage4 (AGP 2x card) ca. 1999
Can't recall where I picked this up

The ViRGE/DX is just a tad slower than a Matrox Mystique 220 PCI (both with 4 MB RAM) in a Windows system with a Pentium 100. Its image quality isn't great though. ViRGE did however get low-resolution VESA modes in DOS in addition to 15-bit modes.

So what is missing from my S3 collection? Well, many cards that pre-date the Vision964, such as the 801, 911 and 928 (all 32-bit chipsets) - the 801 was a low-cost one (though still faster than an equivalent Cirrus chipset of similar era), the 805 supported VESA Local Bus and the 805i supported interleaved DRAM, and the 928 was a high-end chipset. The 964 was one of their newer 64-bit chipsets.

What would also be nice for the collection is a ViRGE/GX as it got synchronous memory that the DX did not, or a Savage4 Extreme (faster core clock) which is just about the pinnacle of S3's history in the graphics card world.

Sadly almost all S3 cards came with pretty poor drivers, which often push them down my priority list to install in a retro PC.

Matrox Cards

Matrox were known to have a very crisp, clear 2D image quality. This was in part because they manufactured all their own cards and they used a 5-stage output filter on their RAMDACs where most other cards used 2 or 3 stages. Compatibility did suffer in certain DOS games that used some scrolling techniques.

On Mystique and Millennium II cards, be sure to disable the 'Use bus mastering' in the driver settings under Windows to avoid lock-ups.


MGA G100 4 MB (OEM) AGP 1x card, ca. 1997
Can't recall where I picked this up


MGA G100 4 MB AGP 1x card, ca. 1997
Bought in 2020 for £7.69


Millennium II 4 MB PCI card, ca. 1997
Bought in 2021 for £14.49


Millennium II 4 MB PCI card, ca. 1997
Bought in 2021 for £6.88 - colours are a bit weird


Millennium G200 8 MB AGP 2x card, ca. 1998
Can't recall where I picked this up


Millennium G400 Dual Head 16 MB AGP 4x card, ca. 2000
Bought in 2021 for £7.40


Millennium G550 32 MB AGP 4x card, ca. 2002
Bought in 2018 for £5.99

nVidia Cards

nVidia were late to the party, having launched their first card, the RIVA 128, in 1997. This makes these cards way beyond the DOS era. Still, I have a number of cards for old Windows boxes. I also have later nVidia cards (post-2002), but they are irrelevant for the purposes of this retro website.


RIVA 128 (on an STB Microsystems Velocity 128 AGP 2x card, ca. 1997)
Can't recall where I picked this up (pre-2017)


RIVA TNT (on a Diamond Viper V550 AGP 2x card, ca. 1998)
Bought in 2018 for £10.36


RIVA TNT2 (on an ELSA Erazor III LT G AGP 4x card, ca. 1999)
Bought in 2018 for £11.22


RIVA TNT2/M64 VANTA (on an MSI MS8808 AGP 4x card, ca. 1999)
Can't recall where I picked this up


GeForce 2 MX400 SH Max (on a Leadtek/Winfast AGP 4x card, ca. 2001)
Bought in 2021 for £12.20


GeForce MX (on an ASUS AGP-V7100 AGP 4x card, ca. 2002)
Bought in 2020 for £8.70

The GeForce 256 is the one card that is glaringly missing in my collection. It was a game changer when it launched in October 1999, and would be a top pick for any late 90s retro gaming box due to its excellent driver support and fantastic performance (for its time).

ATi Cards

Despite the fact ATi have been around forever, the early cards are now incredibly rare. I've picked up quite a number of their 1990s cards over the years, and I do have a number of later post-2001 ones, but those are irrelevant for the purposes of this retro website.


3D Charger 2 MB PCI card, ca. 1997
Bought in 2017 for £16.25


Rage Pro PCI card, ca. 1997
Bought in 2017 for £9.40


Rage Pro Turbo 4 MB PCI card, ca. 1998
Can't recall where I picked this up (pre-2017)


Rage 128 Pro 16 MB AGP 4x card, ca. 1999
Bought in 2019 for £7.00


Rage 128 Ultra 32 MB AGP 4x card, ca. 2001
Can't recall where I picked this up (pre-2017)


Radeon VE (7000) 64 MB AGP 4x card, ca. 2001
Part of a bundle in 2019 for £67 incl. Slot 1 mobo, 2xSB cards, S3 Trio 64V+, 2x net cards

 

3dfx Cards

Famous for their 3d accelerator cards in the late 90s, 3dfx cards are now becoming costly to buy. I have just one card from 3dfx:


Voodoo Graphics 4MB PCI card, ca. 1996
Bought in 2019 for

 

Tseng Labs Cards

The Tseng Labs name was synonymous with high performance in the DOS era, beaten only by the ARK2000 chipset. Any chipsets that have an 'i' or 'p', e.g. W32i or W32p mean the card supports memory interleaving.


ET4000AX 16-bit ISA card, ca. 1989


ET4000AX (on an STB Powergraph 2.0 16-bit ISA card, ca. 1991)

I would like to get an ET4000-W32/p like a Hercules Dynamite Pro 2 MB DRAM card - these are VESA Local Bus, operate on a 32-bit memory interface and support up to 4 MB of RAM for super high resolutions in Windows. Even with just 2 MB it performs bank interleaving. In DOS, it's performance is just about top of the pile, so for a 486 rig this would be a fantastic card.

 

Imagination Technology PowerVR Cards

Impressive but short-lived in an aggressive consumer PC market, the PowerVR chipsets date back to 1996. They are still going strong today in various bespoke markets. I have only one PowerVR card:


Kyro II (on a Hercules 3D Prophet 4500) 64 MB AGP 2x card, ca. 2001

Alliance ProMotion Cards

Not that well known, probably most famous for its ProMotion AT24 chipset being used as the 2D portion of the 3dFX Voodoo Rush. The ProMotion 6422 cards were known to be faster than the Cirrus Logic CL-GD5434 as well as some S3 chips for Windows, but DOS/standard VGA performance was poor.

I have one card that uses an Alliance Semiconductor graphics chipset:


AT24 (on a Diamond Stealth 2500 Video 1 MB PCI card, ca. 1996

Western Digital Cards

For ISA cards from WD - the 90C3x range was well liked - these were 32-bit DRAM-based and performed well. My card below is a 90C30 variant, which was also known to be manufactured by Tandy around 1991 for one or more of their PC-compatibles. WD also produced an earlier 90C00-JK and also a later 90C33-ZZ which found its way onto some VESA Local Bus cards such as the STB Powergraph C33. The 90C33 was a true graphics accelerator.


WD90C30-LR (on a Northman Technologies 16-bit ISA card, ca. 1992)

Cirrus Logic Cards

Renowned for their high degree of compatibility, and on the later cards, high performance as well. Cirrus Logic cards are great all-rounders for DOS. I have these CL cards in my collection:


CL-GD510/520A (on an unknown brand 8-bit ISA card with 256 KB RAM, ca. 1990)


CL-GD510/520A (on a Unitron U3969A-V3 8-bit ISA card with 256 KB RAM, ca. 1990)


CL-GD5422 512 KB VESA Local Bus card, ca. 1991)

Lots of their later cards are missing from my CL collection - I would like to get a CL-GD5428 which was one of the fastest cards for DOS with its 50 MHz 32-bit memory interface.

Trident Cards

With a reputation for being cheap and cheerful, and usually poor performers, Trident cards today are ubiquitous and can be picked up cheap.


TVGA 8900C 16-bit ISA card with 1 MB RAM, ca. 1991
Bought as part of a bundle in 2014 for £48 incl. STB, Ahead & a Tseng Labs card


Trident TVGA 8900CL-B 16-bit ISA card with 1 MB RAM, ca. 1992

I'm not too keen on Trident cards, so I don't plan on extending my collection any further.

SiS Cards

More known for their motherboard chipsets, they also dabbled in graphics card chipsets for a short time. The most popular was probably the 6326 AGP graphics chipset. Here are the SiS cards I have:


6326AGP (on a Pine Technology PT-5968 card 8 MB AGP 1x card, ca. 1998)
Bought in 2015 for £3.79


6326AGP (on a Diamond SpeedSTAR A50 8 MB AGP 2x card, ca. 1998)
Bought in 2013 for $10.95

Ahead Systems Cards

A relatively short-lived graphics chipset company, I have only one Ahead Systems card:


AVGA 512 KB 16-bit ISA card, ca. 1988
Bought as part of a bundle in 2014 for £48 incl. STB, Trident & a Tseng Labs card

 

MDA, Hercules, CGA and EGA Cards

To support the earliest of motherboards in my collection, I have the following ISA cards that pre-date the VGA standard:


IBM 1501985 MDA (Monochrome Display Adapter) Card from IBM 5150, ca.1983
Bought for £11.64 in 2013


IBM CGA (Color Graphics Adapter) Card from IBM 5150, ca.1983
Unsure from where I picked this up


Kouwell KW-526K Hercules Graphics 8-bit ISA card, ca. 1984
Bought for £17.86 in early 2013


Video 7 CGA Graphics card, ca. 1985
Came as part of a bundle auction


Twinhead CT-6040S Hercules Graphics 8-bit ISA card, ca. 1986
Bought for £21.99 in early 2020