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The Source for Mac Performance News and Reviews
VillageTronic MP960 Compared to Voodoo3 3000/2000 PCI,
ATI's Rage128 Orion and Formac's Proformance 3

How they compare in 3D Games and Quicktime Movie Playback
By Mike
Published: 11/3/99
MacBench & Movie Playback Performance
Quake2 | Q3test 1.08 | Unreal | 2D/Movie Playback | MP960 Install Notes
MacBench 5.0 Graphics Tests

This page lists both MacBench Graphics test scores and Movie playback performance.

I ran tests in MacBench 5.0 at both 1024x768, thousands colors and at 1152x870, millions colors. MacBench's graphics tests run a scripted series quickdraw routines that mimics actual applications like Photoshop (zooming/scaling/scrolling), word processing (scrolling/replacing/spell checking) and page layout programs.

Tests were run in the 33MHz and 66MHz PCI slots of my B&W G3/400 for each card. The results are shown below in two graphs - one for each video mode. In all of the MacBench graphs - longer bars (higher numbers) are better.

MacBench/2D Performance Winner: As I knew from my past review, the Formac Proformance 3 was the 2D performance leader.

Movie Playback Performance

Steve Weisel recently sent a CD with the high quality, 44KHz audio version of the Star Wars 'Phantom Menace' trailer which I tested using Macbench 5.0's 'custom' movie tests. I believe this movie was compressed with the Sorensen codec.

All cards were set to 1152x870, millions colors and the movie was set to be scaled to full screen. Since most Macs don't have a 66MHz PCI slot, I used the 33MHz slot in the B&W G3/400 to better represent standard PCI slot performance. The movie was played from the hard drive to prevent the CDROM drive's performance from affecting the scores. The test system was a B&W G3/400 with Quicktime v4.01 installed.

The graphs below shows the results of the frames played test when scaling the movie to full screen. (Due to aspect ratio of the movie it is scaled to the full width of the screen, but doesn't fill the full height.)

MacBench 5.0 Custom Movie Tests
(all tests used B&W G3/400 33MHz PCI Slot)
MacBench Movie tests

MacBench 5.0 Movie Performance Winner: In reality any of the lower 4 cards are literally identical in performance (at least with this test movie), although the Voodoo3 3000 was the winner by a narrow 1% margin. With only 2% (less than 1 FPS) separating 3 cards, the performance of the lower four cards was for practical purposes identical. I can only assume the initial drivers and/or ROM are responsible for the MP960's lower score. Personally I'm not really fond of MacBench's movie tests, as they seem to report universally low scores for playback (perhaps due to overhead of the benchmark itself). Movie performance with other codecs may vary. [Note: one reader commented the Sorensen codec used in the Phantom Menace movie was CPU intensive and not a test a of Graphics card performance. However as shown above, if the CPU had been the bottleneck, with the exact same system/CPU then all the scores would have been identical. It's obvious that there was some (small) difference in Graphics card performance.

It was interesting to see that despite lacking a 'Quicktime Acceleration' extension, the 3Dfx Voodoo3 cards did very well, with the Voodoo3 3000 recording the highest performance in this test. Granted you'd not be able to spot the differences in performance in actual use using the QT movie player. I think the general lower performance in the previous tests with the MP960 indicate the drivers or ROM affected this test as well. Just as in their previous Banshee chip based card (the MP850), a later ROM/driver update could substantially improve performance. There is no logical reason for the card to perform below that of a Voodoo3 generic card with the same clock speeds except for ROM and driver optimizations.

All cards played the Phantom Menace movie at the standard size with no apparent dropped frames at 1024x768, thousands color mode.

Bottom line is that most any modern high-performance graphics card with mature drivers and fed by a decent CPU probably performs equally well at movie playback for typical consumer use.

You can return to the 3D game performance page or read other Video card reviews or related articles at my video cards page.

Mac Video Card Game/2D/Movie Performance

Quake2 | Q3test 1.08 | Unreal | 2D/Movie Playback | MP960 Install Notes

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