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Review: Formac's Proformance 3
By Mike
Review date: 9/14/99
2D Performance Tests Results
Intro | 2D Performance | 3D Performance | Game Performance | Movie Playback | Controls/Design | Summary
MacBench 5.0, Photoshop and Word98 Performance
All tests were run at either 1024x768, thousands colors and/or 1152x870, millions colors modes at 75Hz refresh rates. Most all modern graphics cards are capable of far higher resolutions and refresh rates (see the specifications page for maximum resolutions), but these are probably the most common and have been used in my video card tests since 1997 (partly due to my Apple 20" monitor only supporting that refresh rate at 1152x870).

The tests in the PowerCenter Pro 210 will show the effects of a non-G3 CPU and system without interleaved RAM. How a video card scores in that system will show how dependent the card is on CPU performance. 

MacBench 5.0 Tests:
I ran MacBench 5.0 Graphics (1024x768, thousands colors) and Publishing Graphics (1152x870, millions colors) tests for all three cards in both test systems. I've graphed the results by machine (separate graphs for the B&W G3 and PowerCenter Pro) since the two are worlds apart in CPU performance.

The MacBench Graphics and Pub. Graphics tests run a scripted series of Quickdraw calls that simulate actual applications like Photoshop, Word, Pagemaker, etc. running (in fact you can see the applications emulation running during the tests). Due to one vendor of another card commenting that he felt the Proformance 3 was caching some text from MacBench's tests, on the B&W G3 I ran tests with and without the Proformance 3 Font Cache enabled.

Blue and White G3/400:

(note: "no FC" means Font Cache set to 0)

PowerCenter Pro 210 Results:

I'm baffled by the low Voodoo3 scores in the PowerCenter Pro for this test (lower than the ATI RagePro). Even with the beta drivers and ROM I found this surprising. I want to do further tests when I can to see if there was some reason for this low MacBench score.

Applications Scrolling Tests:

I also ran some informal scrolling tests in Photoshop and Word98 with the card in the 33MHz PCI slot of the B&W G3/400. The Proformance 3 won all these tests, but Photoshop was where the card really shined.  Remember these are 'stopwatch' tests so there is some margin for human error in starting and stopping the clock (often a second is within what I consider the margin of error for stopwatch tests). And remember it's hard to 'see' a 20% difference in actual use, but the Proformance 3 even 'felt' faster in Photoshop scrolling.

Word 98 Scrolling Tests:
 To 'level the playing field' for this test I ran tests with the Proformance 3's Font Cache enabled and disabled to see what benefit it provided. Oddly enabling the font cache actually seemed to increase initial scrolling speed (scrolling down) but did increase scrolling speed when scrolling back up the document (by as much as 40% depending on the Font Cache size chosen). 

The test document was the MacBench 4.0 readme file, which contained a mix of font sizes, tables, etc. which I felt was a good 'benchmark' file for this test. All cards were used in the 33MHz slot to better reflect 'standard' PCI slot performance.

Word 98 Scroll Test
(time in seconds)
Proformance 3
B&W G3/400
(1MB Font Cache)
PCI slot
Proformance 3
B&W G3/400
(0MB Font Cache)
PCI slot
Voodoo3 2000
B&W G3/400
(in 33MHz PCI slot)
PCI slot
Rage128 Orion
B&W G3/400
(in 33MHz PCI slot)
PCI slot

2D Graphics Performance Summary:
The 2D MacBench Graphics/Pub Graphics scores showed the Proformance 3 was significantly faster both test modes (as much as 20-25%) and in real world applications tests it was generally the fastest 2D Mac Graphics card I've tested to date. Most impressive was the Photoshop scrolling test where the Proformance 3, even without a stopwatch, was obviously the fastest graphics card.

The next page covers 3D performance in non-game applications.

Index of Formac Proformance 3 Review

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

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