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Comparison Tests: Rage128 PRO vs Rage128
By Mike
Published: 2/5/2000

How Much Faster is the PRO version than the Original Rage128?
Intro | Game Performance | Benchmark/Apps Tests
Introduction
As an owner of an early (aka Rev 1) Apple G4/450 AGP system (code name Sawtooth), I was pleased to read in December of last year that Apple had upgraded the graphics cards in the G4 AGP systems to the faster clock speed Rage128 PRO chip based model, which also includes a DVI output connector for use with digital LCD displays. (Digital LCD displays generally have better image quality since there is no analog to digital video conversion needed, which can introduce noise and artifacts into the picture.) As a reminder in case some readers may not be aware, AGP cards only fit in Apple systems with an AGP slot. The original G4/PCI systems (code name 'Yikes') cannot use this or any other AGP form factor card.

In January of this year, Apple made the Rage128 PRO AGP card available to early system buyers for $99 (plus shipping and any applicable sales tax). This article includes tests to determine how much performance gain is seen with the PRO card in tests with popular applications, demanding 3D games and benchmarks.

Since early G4s like mine usually came with OS 8.6 installed, the bonus of an OS 9/G4 system CD makes this upgrade especially attractive if you haven't obtained OS 9 already. (There was an OS-Up-To-Date program where buyers could get OS 9 for about $20 plus shipping).

Rage128 Pro Card Photo

The connector on the top is the DVI (digital LCD) output for use with the Apple Cinema Display and other 3rd party digital LCDs. A standard VGA monitor connector is also provided. You cannot drive two displays with this card simultaneously. If the DVI connector is used, the VGA connector is disabled according to the manual supplied with the card.

For performance test results see the linked pages of this review but I'll summarize the pros and cons of the upgrade below. As noted, some of the 'cons' are present with the original Rage128 card as well - they're repeated here to make you aware that they still exist with the upgrade card.


Pros:

  • $99 upgrade includes OS 9 G4 System CD for early G4 owners
  • Faster graphics chip/clock speed boosts 3D Game Performance up to 40% (depending on game and graphics mode).
  • DVI output connector for digital LCD displays
  • Good Quicktime movie performance
  • Retains ability to play DVD movies with Apple's software player which requires a Rage128 card.
  • Full driver support (RAVE/OpenGL/Quicktime)

Cons:

  • Not enough horsepower to run 3D Games at 1024x768 without serious lag
    (which hampers play due to poor response time). Reducing quality settings can help at the expense of image quality.
  • Cooling fan adds noise (very minimal on my sample but some owners have complained)
  • Current OpenGL drivers have very poor 16Bit game image quality issues (true with the original card as well)
  • RAVE mode games still show banding/dithering on halos and fog (true with the original card as well)


Review Pages:

This review is divided into the following pages:

  1. 3D Game Performance: Most owners considering the upgrade want to know how it will perform in the most demanding application - 3D games. This page lists test results comparing the original Rage128 AGP card to the Pro model in Quake1, Quake2, Quake3, Unreal and Unreal Tournament. (16Bit and 32Bit tests were run in Quake3 and Unreal/UT).

  2. Benchmarks/Scrolling/Movie Performance: Results of MacBench 5.0, RaveBench, Photoshop 5.5 scrolling tests, and Quicktime Movie playback.

As usual in my reviews, these page links are at the top and bottom of each review page.




Requirements:

  • PowerMac G4 with AGP Slot

Previous G4/PCI models (aka Yikes) are not compatible with AGP slot cards.



Pricing and Availability:

This upgrade lists for $99 (+ tax/shipping) at the Apple Store. The product/kit number is M7883LL/A. Some mail order and retail dealers may have it for slightly less but some dealers may not have them yet (for instance Outpost.com did not have the product based on a search today).


Test System Hardware Summary:

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

  • Apple G4/450 AGP (rev 1)
  • Original OEM Rage128 AGP graphics card
  • 256MB RAM (two 128MB Transintl DIMMS)
  • Stock 20GB IDE Hard Disk
  • OEM IDE DVD drive
  • Initio BlueNote PCI SCSI card (for legacy SCSI support)
  • OS 9.0, VM off, QT Pro 4.1, QD3D 1.6, Audio Update 1.3
    (Multiple users disabled, but speech recognition enabled). [No Libmoto]

Related Links: For reviews of other graphics cards and related articles, see my list of graphics card articles. For over 1,200 (and growing) records of Mac Game/Video card performance with most every system and video card - search my Mac Game/Video Card FPS database.


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 Rage128 vs Rage128 PRO Comparison

Intro | Game Performance | Benchmarks/Apps Tests

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