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ATI Rage128 Orion vs IXMicro Game Rocket
Rage128 vs 3Dfx Banshee Video Card Comparison
Review date: 7/13/99
Software Controls and Hardware Specifications
Intro | 2D Performance | 3D Performance | Game Performance | Movie Playback | Controls/Design | Summary
Software Controls
ATI Rage128:
The Rage128 software includes the standard control panel which is similar to the one supplied with their previous cards (see the Nexus GA controls page for more info). The control panel in the latest v4 installer included settings for 3D sync, but not the previous texture compression option. ATI's standard Video Memory Manager displays current video memory usage for the 2D display, textures and 3D buffers, a nice extra. The v4.0 installer adds an ATI menu on the right hand side of the menu bar for quick access to their display control and guide. Below are screenshots of the ATI display control software:

(ATI Displays Control Panel - areas are the graphics card are links to other controls)

(Disabling Sync can boost performance but may lead to 'tearing' of images during games)

(Memory usage of the current display mode and programs are shown above)

(The Details panel allows you to check versions of ATI installed extensions..

and also System display software versions)

(You can define your own keyboard shortcut commands here)

(Contents of the ATI Rage128 Installer v4.0 CD
the Sound Catalyst is an audio fix similar to PCI timing update)

The following is a list of the ATI extensions/control panel versions I used for the review:

  • ATI Displays v2.7
  • ATI 3D Accelerator v4.62 (RagePro support)
  • ATI Rage128 3D Accelerator v5.3.9
  • ATI Driver Update v1.48
  • ATI Extension v2.65
  • ATI Graphics Accelerator v3.9.8
  • ATI Offscreen Manager v 2.0.7
  • ATI Resource Manager v1.3

The Rage128 Orion also includes a CD with a full version of Electronic Arts FutureCOP L.A.P.D and includes a 4-level version of TombRaider II and MythII demo as well.

IXMicro Game Rocket:

The Game Rocket controls included a 2d/resolution control and a 'tweaker' utility that is used to overcome some compatibility issues in games like 3Dfx Quake and boost performance. It allows setting swapbuffer modes, limiting texture/framebuffer RAM sizes (as some games expect a 4MB 3dfx card) and setting faster drawing/buffer modes. You must save these tweaker files into the game's folder. There are several pre-configured sets for popular games like Quake and Carmageddon 1. Note: If you decide to use VillageTronic's drivers later, you'll have to use their tweaker to save files to game folders again, as it will not 'find' the Game Rocket tweak files.

(General Control Panel)

(Resolution Control)

(3Dfx Tweaker -needed for some games like Quake)

(Contents of the Game Rocket CD)

The following is a list of the IXMicro extensions/control panel versions I used for the review:
(The versions agreed with the VillageTronic drivers available at test time). Note the VillageTronic 'Monitors and Picasso' has more options and expert display timing settings than the Game Rocket, but novices may be better off without the low-level settings that the VT control offers. See my review of the MP540/3D0 for more details on Monitors and Picasso.

  • Glide v1.1.1 (3dfx driver)
  • QD (2D) Accelerator v1.5.9.1v101
  • Resource Manager v1.1
  • Game Rocket Control Panel v1.0

I rated the software controls of the 3 cards as follows:

  • ATI Rage128: 9
  • IXMicro Game Rocket: 8



Hardware Specifications

ATI Rage128 Specifications:

  • Graphics Engine: ATI Rage128 (128-Bit)
  • 32-Bit 3D Engine/32-Bit Z-Buffer support
  • Triangle Setup Engine
  • Concurrent Command Engine
  • Twin Cache Architecture (8K texel/8K pixel)
  • 2048x2048 pixel (max) texture support
  • Dual Texture Processor (Multitexturing in a single pass)
  • 250 MHz RAMDAC
  • appx 90MHz Chip clock/100MHz memory clock
  • Up to 160 Hz refresh rate
  • 16 MB of 10ns SDRAM (not expandable)
    (Nexus 128 version has 32MB)
  • Quicktime/Quickdraw/Quickdraw 3D/RAVE/OpenGL support
  • Quicktime Video acceleration/scaling
  • Max res: 2D -1600x1200, Millions Colors, 85Hz
    3D -1280x1024 Millions Colors (1600x1200 in thousands colors)
  • VGA Monitor Connector only
  • 66MHz and 33MHz PCI Slot Compatible
  • 5 Year Warranty
  • For a full list of specifications, see ATI's Rage128 Orion product page.

Requires: PowerPC Mac with available PCI slot, System 7.5.5 or higher, Quicktime 2.5 or higher and Quickdraw 3D 1.5.4 or higher (v1.6 recommended). 16 MB of RAM is required, since Quickdraw 3D requires 16 MB of RAM. VR 128 version includes video capture/TV tuner (available Aug-Sept. 1999). The Nexus128 version is basically the Orion model with 32MB of Video RAM.

Update 7/29/99: Inital reports from Starmax and 4400/6400/6500 Owners indicates there is an incompatibility with the Rage128 Orion. I suspect other Motorola motherboard based Mac models may also be affected (Some Powertools and even Umax models used them I think). Also note there are some reports that the supplied Mac/VGA monitor connector adapter may not work properly with some Apple monitors, requring a Griffin or similar adapter (talk with MacGurus for more details). Consult your dealer or ATI tech support if you're having problems or before you buy.


IXMicro Game Rocket Specifications:

  • Graphics Engine: 3Dfx Banshee (128-Bit)
  • 16-Bit Color 3D engine/16-Bit Z-Buffer
    (2D modes support millions colors mode)
  • 256x256 pixel (Max) texture support
  • 100MPixel/Sec (Max) fill Rate
  • Single Texture Processor
  • 250 MHz RAMDAC
  • Unknown chip clock/100MHz memory clock (estimated)
  • Up to 160 Hz refresh rate (100 Hz at most resolutions)
  • 16 MB of 10ns SGRAM (not expandable)
  • Quicktime/Quickdraw/Glide support
  • OpenGL support for some games via Mesa3DfxEngine
  • Quicktime Video acceleration/scaling
  • Max res: 2D -2000x1250 @70Hz, Millions Colors,
    3D - Glide/3Dfx games 960x720 (MesaGL 1024x768 tested)
  • QD3D RAVE and OpenGL drivers currently not available
    (RAVE promised soon, OpenGL later this year)
  • VGA and Mac Monitor Connectors
  • 66MHz and 33MHz PCI Slot Compatible
  • 5 Year Warranty
  • For a full list of specifications, see IXMicro's Game Rocket product page.

Requires: PowerPC Mac with available PCI slot, System 7.5.3 or higher, Quicktime 2.5 or higher and Quickdraw 3D 1.5.4 or higher, 16 MB of RAM, 5MB of disk space.


Although each card has a heatsink on its graphics chip, the Game Rocket runs much hotter than the Rage128. Although I never saw a problem with either card, some Orion owners (most notably 8500 owners) have reported lockups after running 3D Games for extended periods of time. I ra the Orion in the 9600/350, Beige G3 minitower and the B&W G3 for hours running the Unreal flyby test with no lockups so I'm puzzled by these reports.

Based on the hardware design, features and performance, I rated each card as follows:

  • ATI Rage128: 8
  • IXMicro Game Rocket: 7

The more advanced 3D engine of the Rage128, including single pass multitexturing and better OpenGL and RAVE support are reasons for its higher rating.

A wrap-up of the review with details on availability is on the summary 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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