Accelerate Your Mac!
ATI Nexus GA and IXMicro Ultimate Rez FaceOff
Review date: 01/11/1998

The interest in Macintosh video cards seems to be at an all time high, especially those that claim to offer fast, hardware assisted 3D in addition to fast 2D performance. I was able to compare two of the new generation of 2D/3D cards in my PowerTower Pro 180 - the ATI Nexus GA and IXMicro Ultimate Rez. [Note: in 1999 IXMicro went out of business, so any links to their web site will not function.]

I included results from tests with the previous (as of 1998) 2D video card speed king, the Imagine 128 Series 2. Note that even though the PowerTower Pro was only running a 180mhz processor speed, the scores for the Imagine 128 were higher than they were in the 8500 running at 200mhz cpu speeds, possibly due to the fact the 8500's built-in video cycle steals from the PCI bus or from just the overhead of running two monitors.


Features Comparison
ATI Nexus GA:

  • Rage Pro 64-Bit graphics chip
  • 8 MB WRAM memory (exp. to 16 MB)
  • TI 128-Bit 230mhz RamDac
  • Mac and VGA monitor jacks
  • Max 2D resolution: 1920x1080/72hz.
  • Max 3D (Full Screen) res.: 1280x1024 @thousands colors (w/8MB) (double buffer w/Z buffer)
  • Software bundle: None
  • 5 Year Warranty
  • Street Price: Under $600 (January 1998)

Higher 3D resolutions and color depths are possible with the 8 MB upgrade module (to 16 MB total)

IXMicro Ultimate Rez:

  • Twin-Turbo 128-3D graphics chip
  • 8 MB EDO VRAM memory (fixed)
  • TI 250mhz RamDac
  • Mac and VGA monitor jacks
  • Max 2D resolution: 1920x1200/76hz.
  • Max 3D (Full Screen) res.: 1280x1024 @thousands colors (double buffer w/Z buffer)
  • Software bundle: Ray Dream Studio 5, Expression, Kai's PowerTools,
    Colorific, Worldview VRML Browser, DesignWorkshop Lite and Charts SE
  • 5 Year Warranty
  • Street Price: under $600 (January 1998)

Current driver version supports 3D hardware acceleration only in millions color mode. This will be addressed in a future driver update.

For specs for the Imagine 128 Series 2 (shown in the benchmarks for comparison),
see my Imagine 128S2 vs Twin Turbo M8 review.

So far I've run the MacBench 4.0 Graphics and Hi-Res. Pub tests, Lightwork's Walker 1.1 3D tests, and Quickdraw 3D RAVE Quake Timedemo tests. Unfortunately at the current time, only the Nexus GA can run RAVE Quake, as the initial driver release of the Ultimate Rez does not support 3D hardware acceleration in thousands color mode - which RAVE Quake requires. Setting the Ultimate Rez to thousands colors resulted in Quake saying it could not find a RAVE card. This and other issues is noted in the original driver's readme document. [Update: As of 11/27/98 there have been several driver revision updates, but none address the Rave 3D mode in thousands colors - see the ProRez and MacRocket reviews linked on the Graphics Cards page for other IXMicro cards reviewed at a later date with the same graphics chip and issues of 3D/Game performance]

This review compares the 2D speed, 3D speed and software & documentation of the two cards.

On to 2D Test Results =>>


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