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ATI RagePro 3D, VR and MacTell Vision 3D Video Card Comparison
Review date: 4/26/98
Affordable Trio of Mac PCI Video Cards
Intro | 2D Performance  | 3D Performance | Game Performance  | Movie Playback | Features | Summary
Introduction

This review covers a trio of affordable Mac PCI video cards; the ATI RagePro based Xclaim 3D and Xclaim VR, and the Mactell S3-Virge chip based Vision 3D. All these cards retail for under $275, with the MacTell card selling for $139.00 list. Street prices will vary, and there are OEM (so called "white box") versions of the Xclaim 3D listed at Bottom Line for $159.99. The VR card adds video capture (up to 320x240, 30 fps) and generally has a street price of $260.

I'll compare how each card performed in 2D, 3D, games and Quicktime movie playback. I'll also summarize the pros and cons of each card to help you make a decision based on your particular needs.

As with my other recent video card reviews, a PowerTower Pro 180 (180 Mhz 604E CPU) was used for all tests. Better performance could have been obtained with a faster CPU/System, but since these are relatively low cost cards I chose not to use a G3 or higher end system. Using the PTP180 also allows better comparisons with other cards tested on the same system (the Vision Pro II, MacPicasso 540/3D Overdrive, Nexus GA and Ultimate Rez). The latter 3 reviews were done with OS 7.6.1 instead of OS 8.1, but I saw no difference in any aspect of performance between these two OS versions in a retest of the Vision 3D Pro II.

The latest versions of the drivers were used for each card as of the review date (4/26/98). Due to limits of the MacTell S3-Virge card, the maximum resolution tested was 1024x768, thousands colors. The control panel would not allow 1152x870, millions colors mode to be selected, even though the card had 4MB of Dram. For the target audience of these cards, 1024x768 will probably be fine for most users.


All three cards were rated on a scale of 1-10 in each of the following categories:

  1. 2D Performance: MacBench Graphics and Pub tests at 1024x768, thousands colors and general observations from normal applications and games use.
  2. 3D Performance: RaveBench, Walker, Infini-D 4.01, Ray Dream Studio 5.
  3. Game Performance: Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Rave Quake.
  4. Movie Playback: Scaling a 320x240 movie to 1024x768 (full screen) in Macbench tests.
  5. Software Controls: Software Controls features/ease of use.
  6. Hardware Design/Features: Hardware specifications/features.
  7. Price/Performance: Value for the money, all things considered.

The Summary page shows the totals and an overall evaluation of the product.


Test System:
The base system used for test was a PowerComputing PowerTower Pro 180, running OS 8.1 with the standard array of Quicktime 2.5 and Quickdraw 3D 1.5.3, PC exchange, Connectix's Speed Doubler 8.1. Disk cache was set to 512K, Virtual Memory was off. Installed Ram was 128MB, and all other PCI slots were empty.

The cards were tested in the bottom PCI slot.

For reviews of more expensive cards at higher resolutions, see my reviews of the Ultimate Rez, Nexus GA, Twin Turbo, Imagine 128 and of the MacPicasso 540/3D0 video cards.

 

Feedback

I welcome comments about this review and/or the product. For pricing or availability questions, contact ATI or MacTell, or their authorized dealers.


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 ATI RagePro 3D, VR and MacTell Vision 3D Review

Intro | 2D Performance  | 3D Performance | Game Performance  | Movie Playback | Features | Summary

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