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ATI RagePro 3D, VR and MacTell Vision 3D Video Card Comparison
Review date: 4/26/98
Review Summary
Intro | 2D Performance  | 3D Performance | Game Performance  | Movie Playback | Features | Summary
Documentation

MacTell Vision 3D: There was no documentation supplied with the MacTell Vision 3D card, but the MacTell web site now has a manual in Acrobat (PDF) file format. The card and software were simple to install and configure, but a manual of some kind should be supplied with any card, even one as inexpensive as this one ($139). Documentation therefore could not be rated.

ATI Xclaim 3D and VR: The ATI cards came with a well written and illustrated manual describing the installation, software controls and configuration of the card. They are some of the best manuals I have seen and surprising for such a low cost graphics card. The VR had a second manual describing the functions of the video player/capture application. Documentation for the ATI cards was rated a 9.

 

Software Bundle

The MacTell Vision 3D and ATI Xclaim 3D cards came with only the control software, but the Xclaim VR card included a copy of Macromedia's Director 5 on CDROM. Although not the latest version (v6 exists), it was still a nice bonus. The VR card also included all cables necessary to connect it to a VCR or TV for audio/video input and output.

 

Compatibility Notes:

The latest ATI video card drivers (v3.1 5/98) are not compatible with Conley's SoftRaid 2. When I tried to setup a raid array in SoftRaid 2 the system would hang the minute I touched a disk or volume icon in the SoftRaid setup window. Conley and ATI are aware of the problem but as of the review date there has been no solution that I am aware of, other than using an older version of the ATI drivers.

 

System Requirements

PowerPC PCI Macintosh with 1 free PCI slot, System 7.5.5 or later, Quicktime 2.5 or later, and Quickdraw 3D 1.5.1 or later. 16 MB of RAM is required, since Quickdraw 3D requires 16 MB of RAM.

Application and Game requirements will vary as far as CPU and memory requirements.

 

Pricing and Availability

At the time of this review (April 98), suggested retail price for the MacTell Vision 3D was $139, the ATI Xclaim 3D 4 MB version street price was approx. $180 (OEM white box versions are $159.99 at Bottom Line) and the Xclaim VR generally sells for $250 at major mail order dealers.

The ATI cards come with a 5 year limited warranty, the MacTell Vision 3D warranty is 1 year.

 

Summary

No video card in this price range will blow you away in 2D speed, but I was surprised that the ATI Xclaim VR and 3D were just as fast as the twice as expensive Nexus GA up to 1152x870, millions colors. They also delivered good Rave performance, excellent documentation, good solid drivers and in the case of the VR, the bonus of 320x240 video capture to boot. At $159 to $250, I can't think of a more well rounded or overall better value for the money. The MacTell Vision 3D's S3 Virge chip delivers good 2D speed, but the current Rave drivers were not usable in Quake. Given the history of the Virge chip on the PC, it's not likely Rave performance will be adequate for demanding 3D games.

Unless money is extremely tight, you're better off spending the extra $20-$50 and get the Xclaim 3D over the Vision 3D. You'll get better 3D and Rave game performance for just a little extra money. You also get the option of upgrading to 8 MB of memory. If you'd like video capture added and can get by with 320x240, then the XClaim VR is attractive at $250. If all you need is 2D video for a second monitor and if the street price was closer to $100, then the Vision 3D may fill the bill.

Bottom line is that I have not tested any cards in this price range that were better values than the RagePro ATI cards. They won't work miracles, but you'd be hard pressed to find a more complete video card for the money.

Summary of Ratings
Category
MacTell
Vision 3D
ATI
Xclaim 3D
ATI
Xclaim VR

2D Performance:

7.5
8.5
8.5

3D Performance:

6
8.5
8.5

Game Performance:

6
8.5
8.5

Movie Playback:

7
8.5
8.5

Software Controls:

8
9
9

Design/Features:

6.5
8
9

Documentation:

N/A
9
9

Price/Performance:

7
9
9

Totals:

48
69
70

Based on these scores, you can apply your own weighting of each feature to determine which card is right for your needs.

Thanks to ATI and MacTell for providing the cards for review, and for their patience as well. I hope I've provided some insight into these cards and a good feel for their capabilities.


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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