@yannigr Have too agree on the 8600GT/GTS thing, they were pretty much on par with the 2600XT. Also, 5570 and 5670 weren't that good when they came out and I doubt the 20$ price cut did the trick as the 4770 which was similarly priced outperformed it by a good margin. Undoubtedly, the worst graphics cards are the FX5600 (the whole FX series didn't do quite well), the Radeon X700 failed, so did the x1600pro/xt, Nvidias 8800GTS (G80 based) wasn't good, the HD2900 models were a catastrophe. As a matter of fact, the 5830 never justified its price, as it was a horribly stripped-down 5850...
Anyways, I've had: Voodoo 3 3000 -> GF2 MX400 -> GF FX5200 128bit -> ATI Radeon HD2600XT GDDR4 edition (performed close to the 8600GTS at a price of a GT) -> ATI Radeon 4730 (not so good, but got it cheap) -> Getting a 6870 soon
The GeForce 8800GT absolutely did not beat the Radeon HD 2900 XT or the 3870. What were they thinking? The initial benchmarks for the 2900 XT were awful, but after several months, they performance was above the original 8800 GTS, and only bested by the 8800 GTX. The G92, lower performing variant, 8800 GT was not in the same league w/ the 2900 XT, in ANY test. Get your facts straight!
Maybe you're getting the 8800 GT confused with the 8800 GS or something?
I'd be willing to look at benches if you want to provide them, but I haven't ever seen the 2900 XT smoke the 8800 GT on average in any review. I believe your assumption that Radeon drivers improved so much is greatly exaggerated compared to reality.
Same thing with the 3870, and that came a long time after. The 3870 performed closely, but once AA was enabled the Nvidia card leapt ahead.
I think the 9500 GT should be on here. I have an EVGA 9500 GT that i picked up 3 years ago from microcenter for only about $50. It was a great card, ran smooth, performed fairly well, and remained pretty cool and quiet. Without the 9500 GT i probably would not be using dual monitors today and now strongly dislike being limited to a single monitor. I ended up replacing it a little over a year ago with the GTX 460 i have now. But the card is still in use today and holding strong in my dad's work computer at his office.
my first two cards were a sapphire 4850 and a HIS 4850 that I bought 2 months later. Then came a sapphire 5770 followed by a second 5770 from HIS. After my Sapphire died and the rma process was rejected due to sapphires lack of ethics.....I purchased a xfx 6950 2gb. On my 3rd power supply, 3rd mother board, second set of ram. Original antec 300 case, lg dvd LOL. OH and processors were 7750 be, 555 be, now 955 be @ 3.8.
Just on friday I received an upgrade for my 4870 (512MB) which has served me VERY well. Even running BF3 on low at ~30 FPS. I'm probably going to sell it to my parents who upgrade with my old computer when I upgrade to a new one.
My best memory was of my Voodoo 3 2000. I used to play NFS: High stakes on a simulated 6 inch screen so it wouldn't slow down. This was split screen with a friend too. And NHL99 looked SOOO much better with a dedicated video card. The marks in the ice were insane!!! I was even able to play Jedi Outcast on my old pentium 2 with that video card, although I had to uninstall every other game to install it (4GB HD).
all these cards were good, but you can practially omit everything between geforce8800gt & radeon6850 because games during these years ran fine on 8800gt (no real diff from dx10, dx11, 64bit, cryengine 2to3 ... and all that hype. consolitis!). similarly, geforce2 ran everything up to quake3 engine games fine. so a must-have list to actually play games on recommended settings would be much shorter:
voodoo2 (quake2-eng, unreal-eng, glide ...), geforce2 (quake3-eng), radeon9600/9800pro or geforce6800gt (halflife2), geforce8800gt or equivelant radeon (doom3-eng, crysis, unreal-eng3, skyrim ...)
I have the radeon 9600 TX yes TX (made by medion) it was in a medion pc that was so cheap then it couldn't be beaten and the 9600 TX was just a cheaper remake of the 9700.
i also have the 850 pro (unlockable to xt PE with the stock copper cooler) its awesome.
i'm still using those cards. i will never throw them away (or the medion where the 9600TX came in)