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ATI Rage128 Orion vs IXMicro Game Rocket
Rage128 vs 3Dfx Banshee Video Card Comparison
By Mike
Review date: 7/13/99
Updated for compat. issues 8/2/99
Head to Head Shootout of the two newest Mac Graphics Cards
Intro | 2D Performance | 3D Performance | Game Performance | Movie Playback | Controls/Design | Summary

Update: As noted on the main front page news, in early November 1999 Villagetronic updated their ROM and drivers for the MP850, which is a clone of the Game Rocket (the card I had to review if you peeled the sticker off showed it was a VT card). The ROM and updated drivers are said to have dramatically improved performance according to some owner reports. Check The performance noted in apps and games (especially) may be much improved with the new ROM and drivers. (As of Dec 14, 1999 I saw no updated drivers at IXmicro however.)
** Note ** As of 2000, Ixmicro is now out of business. The last source of their video card drivers are at OWC's Ixmicro software/drivers page.

(Original August 1999 review comments follow)

This review compares the performance of two of the latest Mac PCI video cards to date; the ATI Rage128 based Orion and the IXMicro 3Dfx Banshee chip-based GameRocket.

I'll compare how each card performed in 2D, 3D, Games and Quicktime movie playback. The card's software controls and specifications/design features are also compared. Finally, I'll summarize the pros and cons of each card to help you make a decision based on your particular needs.

As with my other video card reviews, I normally test in more than one system. For this review three Mac models were used; a new Blue and White G3/400 (in both 66MHz and 33MHz PCI slots), 9600/350 (604E overclocked to 400MHz) and a PowerCenter Pro 210 (210 MHz 604E CPU/1MB Cache) . Performance usually scales up with faster CPUs (but there were some surprises) so I wanted to demonstrate how much benefit the cards provide to systems of various CPU speeds. In some cases performance of an ATI RagePro 3D (see prev. review) and Game Wizard 12MB Voodoo2 (see prev. review) will be shown for comparison to the cards under review.

The latest versions of the drivers were used for each card as of the review date.

Updates and Owner Feedback:
Update 8/24/99: If you're having problems with a Rage128 retail card make sure you're using the latest updates from ATI's Mac driver page. Fixes for the Rage128 problems with 44-6500, Starmax and other Mac clones were recently addressed with a patch listed there. One G3 upgraded Starmax owner (vimage card I believe) reported he still has problems but I welcome more feedback. As of Aug. 99, there is also a Universal 4.01 installer update available as well. Update 8/02/99: Two 8500 owners and one Beige G3 owner reported that their Orion cards lock up after running 3D Games for extended periods of time. I ran my Orion for 7 hours running the Unreal flyby test in the 9600/350 and 3 hours+ in the Beige G3 minitower with no such problems. More info will be added here as it is known.

The review tests and rates both cards in each of the following categories:

  1. 2D Performance: MacBench 5.0 Graphics and Pub tests at 1024x768/thousands colors and 1152x870/millions colors and general observations from normal applications and finder use.
  2. 3D Performance: RaveBench 1.1, Walker, Infini-D 4.01 and Lightwave 3D 5.6D (OpenGL).
  3. Game Performance: Quake 1 (3Dfx/Rave), Quake2, Unreal, Quake3Test and Falcon 4.
  4. Movie Playback: Scaling a 320x240 movie to 1152x870 (full screen) in Macbench 5 and general MPEG movie performance.
  5. Software Controls: control panel features and ease of use.
  6. Hardware Design/Features: Hardware specifications/features.
  7. Price/Performance: Value for the money, pros and cons.

The Summary page includes comments on documentation, software bundle and has an overall evaluation of each card.

Test Systems Hardware Summary:

Details of the test systems used for this review are listed below.

  • Apple B&W G3/350/DVD (overclocked to 400MHz):
  • 256MB RAM (two 128MB Transintl DIMMS)
  • Stock 6GB IDE Hard Disk (60% full, not defragmented)
  • 32X CDROM drive
  • Game Wizard 12MB Voodoo2 card
  • Initio BlueNote PCI SCSI card (for legacy SCSI support)
  • OS 8.6, 6MB Disk Cache, VM off, QT 3.0, QD3D 1.6, std (many) Apple installed extensions. [No Libmoto]
  • Apple PowerMac 9600/350 (Mach 5):
  • 320MB RAM (two stock EDO 32MB, two pairs of 64MB FPM Dimms)
  • Stock 4GB Hard Disk
  • Radius Thunder 3D PCI graphics card (bios/driver v1.07)
  • OS 8.1, 4MB Disk Cache, VM off, QT 3.0, QD3D 1.6, [No Libmoto]
  • PowerComputing PowerCenter Pro:
  • 160MB RAM
  • Stock 2GB IBM narrow UltraSCSI drive
  • OEM Adaptec 2930 PCI SCSI Card
  • Onboard 2MB Video
  • OS 8.1, 4MB Disk Cache, VM off, QT 3.0, QD3D 1.6, [No Libmoto]

For reviews of other graphics cards and related articles, see my list of graphics card articles.

You can follow my preferred path through the review by continuing to the next page,
or use the links below to jump to a specific page.

Index of ATI Rage128 Orion vs IXMicro Game Rocket Review

Intro | 2D Performance | 3D Performance | Game Performance | Movie Playback | Controls/Design | Summary

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Copyright ©, 1999.

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