evaluating video card box art. with science.
An Introduction

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pretty much everyone knows that the tech industry is rife with competition. Particularly between rival companies that make the same damn thing (think Coke vs. Pepsi).

When it comes to computer tech hardware, video graphics cards are a heated competition. ATI and nVidia are locked in a constant battle for hardware supremacy to have the highest framerates, biggest resolutions, the most onboard memory, and sharpest 3D graphics in the world. Winner gets the bragging rights that come along with it (for a few minutes, anyway, until the competition takes the lead again.)

This site isn't about any of that.

Beneath the nVidia vs. ATI competition is another competition. A more basic competition which requires no technical knowledge whatsoever.

I am speaking, of course, of the epically ridiculous artwork which decorates virtually all graphics card display boxes.

It is my intention to dedicate this little space on the blog-o-blag to the categorical study of the quest to have the most fire-breathing 3D dragons riding monster trucks while doing battle with scantilly clad warrior women per square inch.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm a scientist, and as such I'm faced with the difficult problem of applying objective values on something as amorphous as art. In order to effectively compare video card box art, I will first establish some criteria through which I can give a quantifiable score to any given example.

A general survey of my colleagues has resulted in the creation of the following scorecard (see below), which will be applied to every piece of artwork. One point will be awarded for every instance of every category example present.

The Scorecard
  • Any use of wireframe
  • Robots (1pt each)
  • Spheres (1pt each)
  • Cubes (1pt each)
  • Ficticious Monster (1pt each, 2pt for a dragon)
  • Predatory Animal (real animals)
  • 3D renderings of women or parts of women (eyes, legs, boobs, elbows, etc.)
  • Weapons (1pt each)
  • Armor (1pt per person/being that's wearing any amount of armor)
  • Vehicle implying speed (racecar, jet, etc.)
  • Vehicle implying power (monster truck, bomber plane, etc.)
  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Ice
  • Water
  • Clouds
  • Wizard
  • Energy bursts (1pt each)
  • Spikeballs (1 pt each)
  • Number of times the letter X is used _____
ATI Radeon HD4850

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm not really sure what the artist was going for here... Is that some sort of space morning star? Perhaps some kinda space version of a water mine? The übergoth cousin of HAL from 2001? Whatever it is, it looks like getting near it would result in horrible explosions or lasery red death. Though it also looks like it'd be fun to ride around inside it.

Let's tally this one up:
+1 Spikeball
+1 Energy burst
+1 Weapon (I'm giving the benefit of the doubt that it's not a friendly evil glowing red space spike ball mine)
+2 uses of the letter X (I'm not going to count the X in "PCI Express")

Grand total: 5

Not bad, but I'm sure we can do better. C'mon ATI!

Asus ENGTX275

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Asus is not normally a name one thinks of when you hear the term "video card", but the great thing about video cards is just about every computer hardware manufacturer out there has branded at least one or two graphics cards in their day, which means we won't have to limit ourselves to ATI and nVidia! hoorj~!

The artwork on this one is pretty badass. I mean it's basically a D&D artists reworking of Skeletor... with perky cross-laden golden angel wings. Perhaps he's decided to join the crusades in the holy land?

Enough about Skeletor. Let's turn our attention now to two very fascinating points on this box. I'm talking of course of the words Heart and Touching. They're arranged right next to one another rather prominently right under the massive Asus logo, which implies that they're intended to be read together like a statement. "Heart Touching" -- y'know, like children's books about bunnies who sneak into Farmer MacGregor's carrot patch, or stories of how a child will donate their kidney to save a dying sibling.


Sorry Asus, there's nothing less heart touching than a piece of computer hardware. Depictions of weapon wielding skeletal warriors don't back up your claims. Heart Touching FAIL.

Let's rate this guy:
+2 Armor (the horse is wearing some too, afterall)
+1 Weapon
+1 Lightning
+1 Fictitious Monster
+1 Clouds (I guess that green glowing stuff is a cloud? maybe it's the aurora borealis?)
+1 letter X

The horse is giving me a bit of a dilemma. It's not a predatory animal, despite it's badass horn helmet and it's being used as a vehicle, essentially, which makes me wanna give it at least +1 for the "vehicle implying power" category... but I'm not in a giving mood after that whole "Heart Touching" fiasco.

Final Score: 7

Not bad, Asus, but seriously, get a new tag-line.

Zogis GeForce 9400

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oh ZOGIS, how do I love thee? Other graphics card boxes may change their content, they may opt for a sexy girl in a metal bikini, or a cyborg amphibian, but not you ZOGIS. You have found a formula for getting a solid score of "2" every time.

Dragons. Every single box. Not always the same dragon of course, that would be lame. Nope, different dragons for different cards, but that's it. No werewolf. No wizard. No castle. No maiden in distress. Just dragons.

Sometimes they swoop down upon some unsuspecting prey just below the edge of the box (look out Linksys WRT54G Router!)

Sometimes they charge right out of the box towards you, that reptilian eye fixed upon you. Gleaming teeth and claws poised for ripping you apart. "Buy me and cram me in your home computer or I'll rip your fucking lungs out! BREEEEAAAAAWK!" Yeah!

I could probably dedicate an entire sub-blog solely to ZOGIS dragons, but I won't. We'll just stick with this guy for now.

Let's see... he's orangey, hes' swooping down, he's um... got some sorta feathery lookin' action going on in the back there... he likes long walks on the beach, the History category of Trivial Pursuit, and he's allergic to peanuts. We'll name him Raul.

The scoring breakdown:
+2 for a Dragon

Final Score: 2


Friday, September 4, 2009

When some people think of really really baddass videogame elements to put on a box that will really inspire consumers and move units, they think of Emo Superheros. Enrique, the male model above, is the go-to industry guy for GeForce whenever they need a wizard or superhero with tribal tattoos and poorly proportioned hands.

Enrique is all business on the set. Cameras roll and he immediately begins crying his trademark Shiny Magnetic Tears into his tiny, tiny hands - all while looking completely inconsoleable. He's a total Pro.

Given his tribal tat and shredded delts I'm about ready to confirm the rumor that Enrique started his carrer in the film House-Boat Studs #7 - not that I would watch that but I heard it from somebody don't judge me you are reading about fantasty art on computer hardware boxes.

As far as giving this card a place in the pantheon of Video Card Box art - there were some tough calls to be made. I, for one, am extremely partial to shiny tears and I think they are pretty badass. He also has a kickass helmet with a secure looking chinstrap to ensure that it never comes off in combat or while headbanging to "Fallout Boy." A lot of hard work went into rendering those biceps, and I'm currently pushing the Video-Game Box-Art Judging Association to add "rad biceps" to the scoring card. But, for now, here are the results:

+1 Armor (helmet)
+1 Lightning /Water (lightning tears!)
+2 for energy bursts
+1 Clouds
+1 GeForce GTX +1 maXcore 55- has an X and stands for THE MAXIMUM CORE POWER which is clearly 55


Where this Card really stands out is in it's X-ecution (yep). We're talking so many X's I thought I was watching Sex In the City reruns (yep again).

Although tied with the Asus Baddass D&D Skeletor Knight Warrior of Total Badness, this piece is a mediocre work salvaged only by excessive energy usage and X inflation. I predict not a crowd favorite.

ATI Radeon X800XL

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wow. The crazy bovine-phobia the artist behind this box suffers from is practically off the scale.

Now, I know some of you reading this are gonna say "no, that's just a minotaur." -- and to address that, I've created this short play starring me, as myself, and you as the whiny mythology nerd.


Me: Holy shit, look at that crazy vampire cow dude!
You: That's just a minotaur.
Me: Minnow what? Shut up or I'll sic a crazy vampire cow warrior on you.
You: You have no idea what a minotaur is.
Me: You're a minotaur! I'll minotaur you! Your mom's a minotaur!
You: I'm done talking to you now.
Me: Yeah, you better run Señor Minotaur!
You: Your vocabulary is nothing short of amazing.

[At this point a large and angry gazebo crashes on to the stage and eats your stack of D&D character sheets, your GURPS manual, and your bag of 20 sided dice.]

You: Gazebos don't eat! They're a (often octagonal) pavilion structure found in gardens and parks!

[I laugh as the gazebo sits on you and makes you take it back.]


Whatever nightmarish cow-related experiences the designer of this box suffered from as a child were probably pretty horrific. And hilarious, cuz I mean, c'mon... crazy axe wielding vampire cow? HA!

He looks like he's dressed up for a GWAR concert. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's just the guitar player.

Let's score this baby. I have a good feeling about this one.

+1 Ficticious monster
+1 Predatory animal
+1 Weapon
+1 Armor
+2 Fire (torches)
+1 Clouds (there's some evil red lookin' weather out there)
+1 Spikeball (the end of the axe sure looks like a spikeball to me)
and 1, 2, 3, 4... 5! Five uses of the letter X! (Not counting the 'x' in Pixel).

Which gives us a kickass score of 12!


Well done ATI! Your artistic livestock nightmare vision has paid off. I'm sure this baby is flying off the shelves at this very moment.

Radeon 9800XT Pro

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This guy multi-tasks hard. Like, so frickin hard. Your "ALT+D,F, F" Excel shortcut is like nothing to him! He spits on your Outlook 'Ctrl+Shift+M' and your regular 'Windows Key + M'. Uhhh, Alt-Tab? Who the efff are you thinking you can even mention Alt-Tab around this guy? Come.....On....Alt-Tab. Can you even conceive of looking so hard while simultaneously crunching all of those numbers in the background?? His built-in vicious accounting stamp and huge Fist/Pen are just waiting to put a fat X on your W-2.

He's kind of like Inspector Gadget in that regard - but, like, imagine if Inspector Gadget had slain the Archangels Gabriel and Tyriel in the Chrono-Ether, eons before the time of mankind - indeed - before the genesis of time itself and stolen their very Halos and forged from them an exo-suit of Indestructible Destruction and Amortization of Unused Assets.

Oh man. That art is intense. It took me 43 hours to write this post because I spent the first 42 of those hours cowering under my desk. Every time I peek out around my cube a MASSIVE steel fist seemingly appears from nowhere and threatens to smash my face in!

Ahhhhhhhh my beautiful face! Gahhh! Oh. Shit. There isn't a huge deadly Pen/Fist flying at me! Its just this epic Robotic Angel of Death on this box art. Whew. The only way to successfully write this post was to keep the blogpost-typing window (that's blog-tech nerd for a window where you type your blog post) scrolled way down so that I don't catch any glimpses of this terribly realistic assault.

Let's do the score quick because I'm about to have a breakdown:

+1 Robot
+1 Fictitious Monster (hes obviously more than just a robot!)
+1 Armor
+3 Weapons (Scyth, Spike Pen, Stamp of Death)
+1 Energy Burst (Shoulder lamps and gleams)
+1 Clouds
+3 X's

Total: 11

What??? This doesn't defeat that lame Minotaur Ruben?? I'm petitioning the board.

I really wanted to give points for the Matrix-Style numbers floating around everywhere, but I'm the Anton Scalia of video card box art - letter of the law, not intent. You might say "but couldn't they be interpreted as 'wireframe' or 'energy'"??? Yeah, and the right to privacy is the right to abortion you baby killer.

PNY GeForce 9400GT

Monday, January 18, 2010

The PNY GeForce 9400GT. The "softer side" of the video card industry. Not a weapon or fanged beasty in sight! Unless of course that's a vampire-level-9-elf-angel-space-alien-princess-healer-mage. Can't tell, since her mouth is shut in that Mona Lisa smile. She needs a good fantasy name. Harnessing the power of the web-o-tubes, I have generated a name for her. Henceforth, she shall be Jajaqa of Fairlight!

I think it's safe to say that the binary planet action going on in the background there would likely rip apart any stable orbit system. Jajaqa might wanna think about evacuating whatever rock she's standing on. She looks like the sorta gal with easy access to a spaceship. Maybe one powered by some hawt steampunk olde tyme lookin' propellers and some sort of blimp/zeppelin things. Yeah. One thing's for sure, she's lookin' mighty lonely there. No other life in sight. Not even shrubs. Hey Jajaqa, get some freakin' house plants!

PNY is clearly hoping that lonely gamer dudes will be overcome with the need to keep Jajaqa company on that desolate rock. What better way to do that than through the purchase of a video card?

Let's rate this box, shall we? I have a feeling this isn't going to do so well...

+1 wireframe -- There's some sorta wireframe thing up in the sky there. Perhaps holding the sky up?
+2 spheres -- I count two planets. For those of you arguing to include Jajaqa's breasts, get your own blog.
+1 fictitious "monster" -- she's not particularly monsterish, but she has wings. It'll hafta do.
+1 rendering of a woman
+1 weapon -- is that thing on her belt a flask or a grenade? We'll give her the benefit of the doubt and say that on Fairlight they drink explosives.
+1 Energy burst -- ok, it's probably just the sunrise, but whatev.
+1 Clouds -- they're faint, but they're in there.

... and a shocking disuse of the letter X! NONE AT ALL. Shame on you PNY.

Total: 8

I'd say that's a very generous 8 too. Jajaqa is never gonna make it in this biz unless she ups her game.

MSI XPOWER II (or: Cheating At Life)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I'm going to go the extra mile and include not just one, but THREE face melting images to burn into your retinas, all thanks to the artistic masters at MSI.

Feast your eyes on these babies.

First and foremost, you're probably saying "but, that's not a video card!" And you'd be right. I'm an adult. I'm willing to admit when I'm at fault. That is not a video card. It's a motherboard. It doesn't even have some crappy built-in video card which I can pretend exempts me from the rules of this blog. Whatever.

You might then say to yourself "I refuse to pay attention to any more of this charade until you show me a goddamn video card box!"And that's entirely within your purview, go back to moderating Wikipedia.

For those of you who are cool with judging motherboard box art for a moment, let's check this baby out.

The theme of this box is clearly that of shattering all expectations. You expected some sort of crystal orb? HA! We smash your crystals to pieces! Shards in yo' face, fool!

How much power does this motherboard have anyway? X! That's how much! but that's not all, it's got that bitchin' II after it! Which makes me wonder if this is X to the power of II? or is it merely a Roman XII with "power" crammed in the middle? or perhaps it's X multiplied by II to give us XX? Hard to say. Only MSI can tell us for certain.

If you'll direct your attention to the back side of the box, you'll want to take notice of the feature just right of the "Super Pipe". Notice anything unusual? Of course you did. There are SIX GOLDEN BULLETS strapped to this motherboard. Clint Eastwood would use this motherboard to take out punks on his front lawn, that's how badass MSI engineers are. Don't fuck with MSI engineers.

Let's check out the scorecard for this thing.

+ 1 point for ice (or whatever that shattering material is)
+ 2 points for energy bursts (one big one, one small one)
+ 1 point for spikeballs (maybe? I dunno, it seems kinda spikey and ball-esque)
+ 1 point for fire (there's some reddish firey glow in there, we'll count it)
+ 2 points for X's, though if it's X to the power of 2, then who knows how many points this really is.
+ 6 points for bullets. BULLETS. ON A MOTHERBOARD!

Total: 12


Assuming you're willing to concede the motherboard oversight, you may also be willing to stretch your mind a little further and check out this other gem of badassery from MSI.

HO LEE SHAZBOT. Seriously. Click that image to see this badboy in all it's glory. The details and minutiae are staggering.

Mock stress marks on the edges? Check.
Mock communist propaganda? Check.
Random year in the future mentioned? Check.
Monster? Check.
Futuristic armored warrior? Check.
Fire? Check.
Gun? Check.
Crowd of rebellious looking refugees? Check.
Bullets on the mobo? FAIL.

It's no XPOWER II, but that artwork still bears some study. Glad to see they opted for the inclusion of bullets in the newer model. Any predictions for what features the XPOWER III will hold?

iOS App: Dark Summoner by Ateam Inc.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Once again I'm bending my own rules because for some reason or other the VIDEO CARD BOX ART INDUSTRY has collapsed. (Perhaps it's based in some country with an unstable economy?) There's really a general lack of worthwhile box art coming out these days.

Luckily, I was pointed to this fantastic bit of work! (I know, it's not a video card, whatev.)

So, picture this:

You're out on a date. You're at a malt shop. You're happily chatting it up with your date, sipping your oreo snickerdoodle caramel mocha malt. You pop a few fries in your mouth. Your phone vibrates. You reflexively reach into your pocket and pull it out to see who's calling...


Or at least that's what I assume this app does. Maybe it's a game. I dunno, I didn't read the details that closely, as I was busy fearing for my soul.

Let's rate this thing as best we can... Perhaps I'll have to make a new scorecard for app artwork?

GUYS!!!! Let's total this thing up! I have a feeling this is going to set a new precedent!

+8 for Fictitious Monsters (they're EVERYWHERE!)
+2 for Energy Bursts (I only see 2? It's hard to tell what with all the fire and lightning)
+15 for Armor (Honestly, I lost count of how many characters are in this image, but let's assume they're all coated in enchanted Adamantium Mithril Helms)
+1 for Lightning
+1 for Fire
+3 for Weapons (I see a sword IN THE LOGO OF THE GAME. How badass is that??)
+3 for Wizards (Those girls are wizards right? Or is that the same girl 3 times?)
+1 for whatever you wanna call that glowing blurry claw mark thing

Total: 34 — A NEW RECORD!!!

Perhaps all of the video card box art artists have gone the way of the App?

ATI Radeon X 700 Pro


It's time to get back to our roots. Time for a video card box.

As a child, my father would read me the latest news of the kung fu lizard people from beneath the hollow Earth. Their election results, their latest celebrity gossip, the results of their hacky-sack championships. Every night I would lay awake, waiting for them to break through my windows and come to sweep me away to a fabulous life of kung fu fighting against the aluminum Nazi hell-beasts with whom they constantly struggle for control of the subterranean realm. Sadly, that day never came.

As a grew older, I realized that newspaper wasn't real. FUCK YOU, National Subterranean Inquisitor News!

BUT NOW THIS! This box gives me hope that perhaps there was a grain of truth to that rag! Look at those determined eyes. That chiseled physique. That weird belt that's too big for his waistline. There's no way this rendering is purely from the imagination of an ATI slave labor graphics peon. This is proof that ATI HAS A CAPTIVE KUNG FU LIZARD PERSON!

I even suspect he may have been the inspiration for Voldemort. What's the date on this box art? 2004? A HA! He-who-shall-not-be-named didn't appear in the films until 2005! Suspicious.

Also, do I spy nipples on Mr. Lizard Man? Why would a lizard have nipples? Can't tell for sure with this low-res image, but this may call into question everything I know about Subterranean Kung Fu Lizard People biology.

Let's address his depicted location. Where the hell is that? It looks like the hangar bay of Battlestar Galactica. Or maybe that's what the ATI graphics department's digs look like? ATI management is definitely leaning in on the whole "open office floor plan" concept. I don't even see any tables or task chairs. Looks well swept though. Good job janitorial staff.

Let's tally up the score. I don't think this will be setting any records, but I'm hopeful it will at least beat ZOGIS's standard "2".

+3 X's
+1 Monster
+2 Weapons (those fists are definitely weapons)
+1 armor (does that oversize belt count? I'll allow it.)

Total: 7

No robots, no wireframe, no energy bursts. This looks more like a portrait from Mortal Kombat II. Hi Syzoth!