A Visual History Chart Of Graphics Cards

Nowadays, when the word “rig” is uttered, the first thing that comes to mind is three graphics cards bridged together. GPUs always fascinated me and left me hungry for more information, specifically about the evolution of the graphics card over the years. After searching the internet for hours, I failed to find the data I was seeking in a simple, informational chart complete with history and release dates. Finally about five months ago, I decided to create one myself and now I’m sharing it with you. Be advised, clicking on the thumbnail below will open the full-size chart (14,000px × 6,135px and approx. 6mb).

Graphics Cards History Chart

Graphics Cards History Chart

Having in mind that this chart is useless in low resolutions, direct links are listed below. Medium ones have 3000 pixels horizontally, which is barely enough for a rough view. The large ones have 14000 pixels horizontally, and are suitable for print even on high resolution plotters or flatbed printers for a nice wall print of 120 x 55 centimeters on 300dpi respectively. I created three different color schemes. There is no difference in the information within the chart, just the color.





I’m completely open for comments and suggestions. This is version 1.0 of this chart, and it will be updated in the future.

- Luka Bošković – Loo

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I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
Luka, thanks for sharing this with us! Its a truly impressive compilation!
EarthDog's Avatar
Now this is pretty darn cool if you ask me!!!! Awesome work!

I wonder if my boss would be mad if I printed this on our plotter? Maybe I'll do it after hours.
xoke's Avatar
That was really impressive! I had a laugh looking at the games from the same period too and remembering my first 9800 Pro...I was the coolest the day I got that card.
midijunky's Avatar
I think this information lends itself well to a chart. I too find the subject interesting.

I have a few design and content suggestions for you.

- I found myself flipping back & forth between the specs for each card and their respective photos. It'd be easier to read the chart if these were in the same row or column. Colour coding the spec boxes with the manufacturer names was helpful.
- game titles do provide context, but the choices seem pretty arbitrary. I'd suggest cutting this list down to the major 1-2 games from each respective year. Some games you mention weren't even 3D titles. Maybe put the titles themselves in the grey bar area, between the year markers. On that note, Doom 2 was released some years before Quake.
- include API information as well as game titles. It'd be interesting to see when the Glide era began/ended, or how many years it took MS release successive versions of DirectX.
- it's hard to tell from the specs how the cards would perform next to each other. Maybe use texture or pixel fill-rates?
- include original MSRP under specs
- layer the chart a little:for instance you could have a line graph representing average transistor counts or some all encompassing figure behind the main chart.

Other subtitle suggestions:
'The rise of ATI and nVidia'
I.M.O.G.'s Avatar
Nice input midijunky. If you'd be interested in coordinating, I've notified the author his article was published and he should be around before long. Maybe he has some ideas about how to make those happen, and others or yourself can help contribute.
King107s's Avatar
What about Quake 3 in 1999? best FPS ever made

I think some ATI cards were left out of 2008 and 2009...

Lets see... Ive had...
nVidia Riva TNT2
nVidia GeForce 256
nVidia GeForce 4 Ti 4600
nVidia GeForce FX 5850 Ultra
nVidia GeForce 6600GT
ATI HD4870 Toxic
ATI 2X HD4890 CF

Oh, and nice work
Mr Alpha's Avatar
Man, does this ever bring back memories.

It is interesting to see how the number of players in the market has shrunk while the HSFs just keep getting bigger.

The games don't seem arbitrary to me. I think I own like 90% of 'em.
David's Avatar
This picture is better than porn.
fundip's Avatar
that is the best rating system i have ever seen. more reviewers should adopt it. instead of the 1 thru 10 system it will be:

better than porn

as good as porn

not as good as porn

its so easy to understand, why hasnt anyone else thought of this. it will make decision making less of a hassle since i, like most people, already understand everything in terms of pornographic literature anyway.

very nice
Omsion's Avatar
That is an awesome chart (though the title may be a bit excessively sized )

ATI 128 Pro -> FX5200 -> 7600GT -> 8800GTS -> GTX460
This is the most awesome graphics chart I've ever seen!!!

Thanks Luka
Fennecfox's Avatar
Very cool, I share this with friends. Thanks for including Descent! There community is awesome and so is the game.

Does Crysis still boast the best graphics, if so then why are we getting better cards, we need better games first! (although the price reduction of older cards is nice)

Can't wait for Crysis 2 =D
Loo's Avatar
Ohhh guyyyyss thanks alot
I actually didnt expect for all replies to be positive and VERY useful. First of all, thanks to overclockers.com staff who approved my first post awesome!

midijunky, you know the score! All suggestions are absolutely right, many of them felt on my mind to, but there were too complicated to realize or were too much "information hungry" for the informations I coudn't get. There was a version where the boxes with GPU specifications were next to the pictures, but, It wasnt looking very cool... I'm a PC enthusiast after graphic design, so informations are a little placed behind in the favor of visual apperance. The game choice was arbitrary. You're absolutely right 100%. The choice of games was made 3 days before I've published this, the time when I started to run out of patience If you are willing to make a list of changes, I'll gladly make the corrections
Also, about the nVIDIA & ATI rises and falls, there are always polemics about that, I really didn't want to ruin any ATI or nVIDIA enthusiast dreams, I simply wanted to make a chart for everyone...

P.S. 1: Guys, run the plotter in DRAFT mode , no one will notice the ink level :P
P.S. 2: Fennecfox, np mannn, I LOVE DESCENT.
P.S. 3: Better than porn? Argh... but better than a PORN MOVIE, definitely yes
mdcomp's Avatar
I had a blast reading through this chart, brought back some great memories. It was really cool to see the evolution of the cards over the years. I have to be honest, this is one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Nice work!

Bobnova's Avatar
Very cool! Especially the core clocks and such, never seen those for all the old cards!

I went from a voodoo1, to a voodoo2, then SLI voodoo2s, then a Rendition card of some sort, then a voodoo3 3000(this died due to a passive sink and open case) then a GF2 of some sort, then GF4 mx440 (aka gf2 redux), then a Ti4200(fan died, card roasted), then a laptop 6800 semi-ultra, then a 4830, and now a 4890.
Loo's Avatar
wooo hoooo niceeee Bobbbb That's a lot of cards, plus, your choices were interesting... you didn't stick on one brand... you could make your own private history... I got mine!
{PGA}AfterShock's Avatar
WOW those bring back memories, I remember burning my finger on the voodoo 3 3000. I still have my geforce 6800 that I spent the day reading on these very forums about how to unlock the extra shaders. Still have a ATI 9800 pro sealed in the box that I got from an RMA because the 1st one ended up warping like a skateboard. I didn't see my old Hercules 3d prophet card in there yet, think that was one of the 1st cards I've owned that had cooling on the memory and voltage regulators.
EarthDog's Avatar
Those were vertex pipelines back then...shaders didnt technically come around until G80 architecture...IIRC...
Tokae's Avatar
Simply Amazing!

Very Well Done!
TonyMc's Avatar
Thanks for the stroll down memory lane Loo. Takes me back to the old Voodoo cards and late night sessions of shooting down aliens on Incoming.
hokiealumnus's Avatar
Definitely a great piece, thanks Loo! I was reminiscing too about my Voodoo2, pipe-jumping up to grab the flag on well6 in QWTF.
Loo's Avatar
I adore my VooDoo 2 too... I've put it in a frame, black canvas behind it, it's hanging on my wall... better masterpiece than all the others.
DaveHCYJ's Avatar
Very helpful graph. Full to look at and gives some good memories of the various cards I've had through the years.

nvidia 8800gts
nvidia 6600gt
ati radeon 9500pro
ati rage 128pro
don't know prior to that, whatever came built in...

As some others have mentioned it would be useful to see performance comparisons. Maybe you could capture the information here: Graphics Card Hierarchy Chart
RED Hot Machine's Avatar
Great Job. Brings back some memories!
Cuiiey's Avatar
The good old Riva 128 8mb days
SLeePYG72786's Avatar
Thank you for this!!!!!
Ingleburt's Avatar
Until a month ago i was still rocking the Radeon 8500 64mb everyday 24/7 since its release! A fantastic chart i must say all the evolutions into context for someone like me whos not into pc gaming, thank you!
don'tknow's Avatar
I remember Descent... didn't know a lot of people still played it. The rarest game genre (nearly dead) nowadays is 3D space shooters it seems (action-based, not the RPG/Strat ones), except on consoles kind of. PC however seems to have little going for it in that category.... really hope SoL actually comes out.

There is a game more taxing than Crysis, it's Metro 2033. Turn off Advanced DoF and Tessellation (way too much fps loss for too little gain), then it's playable on Very High. Other than that, nothing really... and Crysis 2 will be less taxing because it's optimized for consoles... has way less geometry and no open levels.
Primetime1267's Avatar
Just had flashbacks about my old dual Voo-Doo cards..
mxthunder's Avatar
Excellent piece! I hope to own every card on there one day! Good memories!
qubit's Avatar
Wow, awesome chart Loo!

I'd forgotten that the GeForce name came out in 1999 with the GeForce 256 and can the GeForce 2 really be a decade old?!
Badbonji's Avatar
That is completely awesome! Feels like I missed out on so much

Saw the GTX295 and says 1400M transistors, shouldn't this be x2?
Bad ConNecTioN's Avatar
Brings back some nice memories! I honestly am killing myself trying to remember what I had before my Geforce 2, but I simply can't. I'm pretty sure I still have them in a box somewhere though .

Geforce 2 Ultra (first card I was ever super excited about. Still have it.)
9700 Pro (first card I ever modded!)
Geforce 6600 GT (temporary replacement after the 9700 died, still have this too)
X850 Pro (I still love that card! Gave it to my pops who finally replaced it with a 4850)
2x HD 4870 (ya, a huge JUMP...still rocking these now)
HD 6970 (in the mail!!!)
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