Flashy family of Verto graphics cards debuts

US gamers looking for some extra flash after Independence Day fireworks have faded can light up their PCs with a new line of Verto graphics accelerator cards from PNY Technologies.

The cards, shipping this month, are called Verto (which means "to transform" in Latin). Each is powered by graphics technology from Nvidia Corp.

"We are actually offering a top-to-bottom solution based on Nvidia products," says Craig Wiener, product development manager for PNY, which designs, manufactures, and distributes memory upgrade products for systems ranging from handhelds to servers, as well as for printers and digital cameras.

PNY is marketing three PCI models, starting with the US$49.99 Vanta card with 16MB SDRAM. It also offers four AGP models, including the top-of-the-line GeForce3 with 64MB DDR, which carries a $399.99 price tag.

PNY actually competes with its graphics chip supplier on some of the cards: Nvidia also markets cards as well as selling chips. But PNY's GeForce3 card is priced comparably to Nvidia's own GeForce3 Card.

Fast graphics support action games

The high-end GeForce3 features Nvidia's newest technology, and is heralded as the "ultimate card for the gamer."

According to PNY, the card's Lightspeed Memory Architecture makes the GeForce3 the fastest graphics processing unit ever produced. S-Video-out and DVI-out are standard, allowing users to run large plasma displays, do big-screen gaming at home, and handle any kind of presentation on larger flat-panel displays.

"The way they do the graphics is different from in the past. It's got features like vertex and pixel shading, higher resolution, and high definition video processing...all built into the GPU," Wiener says. "It's a great card. It's totally amazing, like you're looking at TV. You can see the wrinkles in people's faces when they speak, see their skin move."

Popular game titles that take advantage of the card's features include Aquanox, X-Isle: Dinosaur Island, and the latest edition of Incoming Forces, Wiener says.

Older PCs can boost graphics, too

Wiener says the lower-priced Vanta is a PCI card that's best suited for someone with an older PC or a value model that could use graphics enhancements to spice up some of the lower-end games.

For the middleweight gamer, Wiener points to the MX400 model, which drops in price from $149 to $129 next week. It's an AGP card with 64MB of SDRAM to handle some of the more complex games that require 3D processing.

"You get a lot of performance in that card," he says. "It's a good value for the money, especially with the price drop. It's good for PC gaming, photo editing, and any kind of virtual reality on the Web."

PNY plans to cross-promote the new cards with its memory products, CD media products, and flash memory for digital markets.

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Frank Thorsberg

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