The very specific horror of old graphics card packaging art

(Image credit: Future)

Today, most GPUs come in cool, stylish, minimalist packaging. Slipping my RTX 2080 Super out of its monolithic box felt like opening some prestige electronics product. But it wasn't always like this. Back through the mists of time, in the late 1990s and early-to-mid 2000s, GPU and 3D accelerator packaging was its own nightmarish artform. Here are some examples of the best, or worst, depending on your perspective.

Palit GeForce 9600GT Sonic (2008)

(Image credit: Palit Microsystems)

I like to think the brainstorming session for this packaging began and ended with the words 'frog in a mech suit?' scribbled on a whiteboard.

Asus GeForce 256 (2000)

(Image credit: Asus)

You have to respect Asus for trying something different. Robots? Goblins? Please. We're going to use the kid from Problem Child to sell our GPU.

Hercules 3D Prophet 9500 Pro (2003)

(Image credit: Hercules)

It's a little known fact that Jared Leto based his portrayal of the Joker in Suicide Squad on this art. He thought it was absolutely twisted.

Sapphire ATI Radeon X550 (2005)

(Image credit: Sapphire)

No. I don't like this. I want this creepy naked goblin thing to go away. Why is it striking that weird pose? Why is it looking off-camera in horror? Why? 

Matrox Mystique 220 (1997)

(Image credit: Matrox)

Why is this smirking jester looming out of the dark to offer me a 3D card? Maybe it's cursed. A great frame rate on Carmageddon, at the expense of my soul.

Sapphire ATI Radeon 9800 XT (2003)

(Image credit: Sapphire)

It's an alien made of liquid metal. What more can I say? Except that I love it, and I want to buy a van just so I can airbrush this design on the side.

Leadtek WinFast PX6600 GT TDH (2005)

(Image credit: Leadtek)

Someone at Leadtek really liked wizards, because this is just one of several GPUs manufactured by them featuring a bearded CG spell-slinger on the box.

Point of View GeForce 9800 GTX (2008)

(Image credit: Point of View)

Nothing says 'extreme gaming performance' like a little fantasy goblin brandishing a knife. I see that and I know my frame rates are gonna be sick.

PNY Verto GeForce FX 5200 (2003)

(Image credit: Verto)

Cyborgs are a graphics card packaging classic. There are loads to choose from, but I like this blue lady and her half-Terminator exposed robo-head.

PowerColor Radeon 9700 Pro (2002)

(Image credit: PowerColor)

This guy has come from the future to give me good frame rates.

Andy Kelly

If it’s set in space, Andy will probably write about it. He loves sci-fi, adventure games, taking screenshots, Twin Peaks, weird sims, Alien: Isolation, and anything with a good story.