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The Source for Mac Performance News and Reviews

Review: Formac's Proformance 3
By Mike
Review date: 9/14/99 (updated 10/21/99 for OpenGL Beta game tests)

Review and Comparison to the Rage128 & Voodoo3
Intro | 2D Performance | 3D Performance | Game Performance | Movie Playback | Controls/Design | Summary

Pros: Fastest general/2D/Photoshop performance to date. Superb control software. Onboard cooling fan. 3D Glasses add a 'new dimension' (no pun intended) to many games. Optional digital LCD support. OpenGL drivers support 3D Glasses.

Cons: Higher cost than other cards. Only 1 year warranty [Formac now says the warranty is 2 years].

Introduction
Formac's latest Mac graphics card uses the 3Dlabs Permedia3 chip, an onboard cooling fan and support for options like 3D shutter glasses and digital LCD output. The Proformance 3 is priced a bit higher than the latest crop of 16MBMacintosh video cards and this review is complete enough to hopefully help you decide if the extra cost is worth it.

This review compares how the Proformance II compares to the Rage128 Orion and 3Dfx Voodoo3 performed in 2D, 3D, Games and Quicktime movie playback. The card's software controls and specifications/design features are also covered in detail. Finally, I'll summarize the overall performance and features 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 two Mac models were used; a Blue and White G3/400 (tested in both 66MHz and 33MHz PCI slots), and a PowerCenter Pro 210 (210 MHz 604E CPU/1MB Cache). Performance usually scales up with faster CPUs so I wanted to demonstrate how much benefit the cards provide to systems with G3 and 604E CPUs. In each system I show comparison scores with the Rage128 and Voodoo3 in each of the tests.

All tests used the latest versions of the drivers for each card (Proformance 3 ROM v1.9.9/GA Control Panel v5.5.9, ATI Orion drivers v4.01 and 3Dfx Voodoo3 2000 beta 2 ROM/drivers).

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 . Scrolling tests in Photoshop and Word 98.
  2. 3D Performance: RaveBench 1.1, Walker, and apps like Infini-D.
  3. Game Performance: Quake 1 (v1.09), Unreal (v224b7) and Falcon 4. In this review I comment on the optional 3D Glasses performance in TombRaider II and Carmageddon II as well.
  4. Movie Playback: Scaling the 44KHz 'Phantom Menace' movie to 1152x870 (full screen) in Macbench 5 and general Finder movie playback tests.
  5. Software Controls: Control Panel features and ease of use.
  6. Hardware Design/Features: Hardware specifications/features.
  7. Price/Performance: Review summary and final comments.

The Summary page also includes comments on documentation, software bundle and has an overall evaluation/comparison of the product.


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
  • Initio BlueNote PCI SCSI card (for legacy SCSI support)
  • OS 8.6, 6MB Disk Cache, VM off, QT 4.01, QD3D 1.6, std (many) Apple installed extensions. [No Libmoto]

  • PowerComputing PowerCenter Pro:
  • 160MB RAM
  • Stock 2GB IBM narrow UltraSCSI drive
  • OEM Adaptec 2930 PCI SCSI Card
  • 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 Formac Proformance 3 Review

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

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