Some of the information in this section was taken from Boogyman's video
FAQ. For more detailed chipset info, or info on a particular video
card model, refer to the Chipsets document which is distributed as a
supplement to this FAQ. The relevant sections are included
with the Video Chipset Information List. Note that while much of the
information in this section is fact, by its very nature, some of the
following is based on opinion. Please don't submit flames - any messages
that are of the 'my video card is the best' will be sent to /dev/null.
If you disagree with any of the comments below and can provide reasonable
justification, feel free to email the FAQ maintainer. Note that 'my
card is _really_ fast' isn't good enough evidence.
32, 64 and 128 bit chipset with DRAM, EDO and video acceleration
capabilities. Their 6422 chipset is faster than the CL5434 and some S3
chips for Windows (according to Alliance) but DOS/VGA speed is poor.
ARK 1000PV, 2000PV
A relative newcomer to the video arena, the ARK2000 based cards are
the fastest DOS/VGA performers available. They are inexpensive, 32
(1000) & 64 bit (2000) processors that provide some acceleration
capabilities, but are only available in DRAM versions. Of course, for
any VGA application, VRAM would provide no benefit over DRAM anyway.
(i.e. Hercules Stingray 64/Video, Actix Picasso 64)
ATI (see Mach 32 & Mach 64)
Avance Logic Inc. -ALI (ALG2301/ALG2228)
32 bit DRAM based chipset with limited acceleration features. A 64-bit
chip is also available.
Cirrus Logic (542x)
C.L. based cards have become the de facto entry level video adapters
for VLB and PCI. While somewhat faster than the older Trident 8900,
C.L. chipsets are economy models, low on price and acceleration. These
chipsets are 32 bit and support DRAM up to 2 MB for some models.
Because they are so common, they are well supported across different
Cirrus Logic (543x/544x)
This is the 64 bit replacement for the 542x series of chips. Has
some acceleration features and in general are good cards for their
modest price. The GD5430 has only 32 bit DRAM interface even with
2 MB installed, but other models have full 64 bit interface.
While no longer in production, this is a popular 32 bit chip. Its
speed has been surpassed by many newer chipsets, but it still provides
good performance, and is supported widely. Supports up to 2 MB of VRAM
or DRAM and 64 bit memory transfers (interleaved).
(i.e. ATI Graphics Ultra Pro)
This 64 bit chip was designed by/for ATI. It provides accelerated
GUI performance and respectable VGA speed. Support across many OS's
and most buses is available. Mach64 based cards have been given
first place honours in many PC magazine video card rankings due to
good performance and excellent drivers and utilities. Newer versions
of the Mach64 provide video acceleration, while the Rage 3D accelerator
adds 3D acceleration.
(i.e. ATI Graphics Pro Turbo, WinTurbo, Xpression, Video Xpression)
Typically, Matrox cards are blisteringly fast for GUI's (typically
Windows 3.1) and are considered a high-end chipset because of their cost.
However, the VGA chipset used on Matrox cards is abysmal, and is
usually much slower than even the cheapest VGA cards. Matrox has
released a new card called the Millenium which is very fast for GUI's
and has fast VGA performance. The newer Mystique also provides fast
GUI and DOS/VGA speed. It uses the new high-bandwidth, low-cost
Oak Technologies Inc.
Provide low end SVGA chipsets, some available with up to 2 MB.
Performance isn't spectacular, and are fairly inexpensive.
S3 ViRGE, Vision864, Vision868, Vision968, Trio64, 805, 911, etc
One of the most popular chipsets, S3-based cards seem to appear at
or near the top of most Windows 3.1 accelerator top ten rankings.
The S3 family enjoys good support across most operating systems and
the 864/964 and Trio64 provide very fast performance for GUI's and
respectable VGA speed. Typically the 8xx series are DRAM based, while
the 9xx are for VRAM.
The 911 and 924 were the first generation chips which came with
VRAM. Provide good GUI acceleration but poor VGA performance.
The 32 bit chipsets consist of 801, 805, 928 and Trio32 (732). The
801 is a low end chip which is faster than comparable C.L. chips. The
805 supports VLB and the 805i supports interleaved DRAM. The 928 is
a high-end 32 bit card and the Trio32 is an attempt to dominate the
low-end 32 bit market - used DRAM.
The 64 bit chipsets are ViRGE, 864, 964, Trio64 (764),V+ 868 and 968.
These chipsets dominate many top 10 listings for economical but fast GUI
accelerators. The Trio64 is basically an 864 with integrated RAMDAC
but isn't software compatible. All have a 64 bit memory interface.
The x68 chips have additional video acceleration capabilities, as does
The ViRGE has a Trio64V+ core with additional 3D acceleration features.
(i.e. Hercules Terminator 64/DRAM (Trio64), STB Powergraph 64, Diamond
Stealth 64 (Trio64), rPC FireStorm64, Paradise Bahamas 64 (Vision864),
Diamond Stealth Video (Vision868), Hercules Terminator Professional
For a long time, Trident chipsets (89xx) were the most common entry
level chips used on ISA boards. They aren't very fast for VGA or
GUI but enjoy broad-based SVGA mode support. The newer Trident chips
(94xx) are faster and provide some acceleration features, but are
still one of the slowest chipsets available. The more recent 9680 is
a respectable GUI accelerator.
Tseng's latest chipset gives blazing DOS/VGA performance and fast
Windows performance. Many vendors offer ET6000 based cards. It
supports DRAM and EDO DRAM sporting a 128-bit accelerator and on-chip
ET4000 - W32, W32i, W32p
Traditionally the fastest VGA chipset, the ET4000 has recently been
put into second place behind the ARK2000 chipset(s). The original
ET4000 chipset is not accelerated, but the newer W32's are. It enjoys
good support across most OS's, but lacks the bandwidth (being a 32 bit
chip) to provide high-resolution, high-refresh truecolour performance.
The 'p' denotes PCI, 'i' and 'p' are capable of memory interleaving.
(i.e. Hercules Dynamite Pro(W32i) or Power (W32p), Cardex Challenger,
Diamond Stealth 32 (discontinued))
This is a less common 32-bit interleaved DRAM-based chipset.
Weitek P90xx and P91xx
Very fast VRAM-based accelerators have no VGA support which must
be provided by a separate chip. 32-bit. Weitek is not providing
drivers for Windows95, so support is vendor-specific and spotty at
Western Digital (Paradise)
The WD90C3x chipsets are 32-bit DRAM based and are available in up
to 2 MB version. Have some acceleration capabilities. Philips
Electronics purchased Western Digital's video chipset division in