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

The Nexus GA had by far the better manual, with 43 pages well illustrated and written to guide you though installation and operation of all the control panel software's features. The manual was totally geared to the Macintosh, and was overall one of the best I've seen to date (1998) for a video card. Each of the 3D settings/controls was shown and explained in clear terms, and a complete table of 2D and 3D resolutions/modes was listed as well.

The Ultimate Rez printed manual was thin, and about 98% devoted to the Windows 95 and NT installations, an indication of how easy hardware installs are on the Macintosh. The manual notes that the users guide (to control panel software, etc.) is contained on the installation CDrom in HTML format. Internet Explorer is provided on the cdrom as well.

The Nexus Manual wins this comparison hands down.

Best Printed Documentation: Nexus GA

The Ultimate Rez was judged to have a more complete set of 2D controls, although the color controls feature was not enabled in the initial driver release. The Nexus GA has some nice features however, such as monitor selection by name/model, but was lacking in gamma controls compared to the Ultimate Rez.

Best 2D Controls: Ultimate Rez

The Ultimate Rez initial release control panel has a single 3D setting to enable/disable acceleration.

The Nexus GA's control panel contains a 3D memory monitor showing the current usage of the cards memory for Display (screen and desktop pattern), Textures (textures and bitmaps) and Buffers (Back buffer and Z buffer). It also has adjustable settings for 3D quality (std/high), texture compression (none/medium/high) and 3D Sync (sync 3D drawing to the monitors vertical refresh rate, which can reduce "tearing" in some games at the expense of speed). The Details button will show all currently loaded ATI extensions and their versions, a nice touch. Links to the ATI guide and customer support screens are also provided. The Nexus GA's 3D controls were the best I've seen to date (1998) on the Mac.

Best 3D Controls: Nexus GA

This was no contest really, as the Nexus GA comes only with diskettes of the driver and Quickdraw 3D 1.5.3. The Ultimate Rez came with a coupon for the most impressive bundle of applications I've ever seen with any video card. Included is Ray Dream Studio 5, Expressions and Kai's PowerTools 3 by MetaCreations, Colorific by Sonnettech, Worldview VRML Browser by Intervista, DesignWorkshop Lite by Artifice, and Charts SE by Adrenaline. Quite an impressive collection. [Note: OEM versions of this card and blowout sale versions after IXMicro went out of business may not include this software bundle.]

Best Software Bundle: Ultimate Rez


Final Verdict:

2D Speed and the amazing software bundle were major wins for the Ultimate Rez. The cost of Ray Dream Studio 5 alone (mail order) is close to $300, although you do get a printed manual with the retail version.

3D speed and support, driver maturity, 3d control settings, 16MB memory option and documentation were wins for the Nexus GA, with the bonus of being compatible with RAVE games such as Quake.

To be fair this is the Ultimate Rez's first driver release, although the card was very late in shipping. With it's impressive 2D speed it will be a card to watch in the future as IXMicro improves the software drivers. Should they improve the 3D support and address the issues in the readme this card could well be the "Ultimate" video card for the Mac. {Note - after over a year there were still no improvements in the 3D performance of the Ult. Rez, nor any 16bit Rave support. It's ironic that a chip with "3D" in its name would be so poor in that respect. If you are looking for 3D performance or Gaming, the Ultimate Rez is a card to avoid.} (Update: IXMicro went out of business in 1999.)]

Given these facts, it's up to you to decide which card is the better fit for your current needs.


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