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IXMicro Mac Rocket Graphics Card Review
Review date: 8/11/98
Blazing 2D speed, TV Output, lackluster 3D
A year ago you'd pay over $600 for the kind of 2D speed the IXMicro Mac Rocket card delivers. That alone makes up for the lack of 3D RAVE performance really. As expected since they are based on the same graphics chip, the Mac Rocket is just as fast in 2D operations up to the limits of its memory as the more expensive ProRez and Ultimate Rez. The Mac Rocket is the fastest 2D card you can buy for the money and is a good value if you don't need RAVE game performance, higher resolutions/true color modes (due to the 4MB of memory).
The Mac Rocket is basically a ProRez with 4MB of SGRAM (non-upgradable) instead of 8MB and includes the TV Out module that is an option on the ProRez. If you've read my reviews of the ProRez and Ultimate Rez, you know the Twin-Turbo 128-3D chip's achilles heel is no 16-Bit RAVE support (no RAVE Quake possible) and lackluster 3D. If you own a 3Dfx card that may not be a big concern. The software bundle is good, including Kai's Photo Soap, Colorific, Web Painter SE, and Hip Clips. The TV Out is a nice bonus as well if you like playing games on your big screen TV.
Always keep in mind that video scores usually scale with a faster CPU. However the key point to remember is I'm showing relative performance , since all comparison scores with other cards were run on the same system. As with my other video card reviews I've used a PowerTower Pro 180, but for this review I also a included scores from a 8600/350 (overclocked 300) and a 9600/400 (overclocked 350) as well. The sole reason I bought these Macs was to be able to provide product reviews and comparisons in as many Macs as possible. This should be a help to owners of 8600s and 9600s in determining how much they will gain from not only the card under review, but the other models shown for comparison as well.
Included in the PowerTower Pro 180 (180 Mhz 604E CPU) test scores I list the performance of the ATI Rage Pro 3D and VR, MacTell Vision 3D and Vision 3D Pro II, MacPicasso 540/3D Overdrive, Nexus GA and Ultimate Rez. For the 8600/350 tests, I compared the Mac Rocket to the built-in video with both 2MB and 4MB of VRAM installed. The 9600/400 tests included a ProRez, ATI RagePro 3D (with both driver versions 3.1 and the new 3.2 release) and the stock OEM Twin Turbo 8MB card using the latest (and much improved) v4.05 driver.
I used the initial Mac Rocket driver release v1.02 on the supplied CD for all tests. The Mac Rocket supplied for review was a shrink-wrapped, full retail version. Tests were run at 1024x768, thousands colors and in some cases 1152x870, millions colors. Full-screen movie playback tests were run at 1024x768, thousands colors. Bios revision of the Mac Rocket was 1.0.303.
I rate graphics cards on a scale of 1-10 in each of the following categories:
- 2D Performance: MacBench Graphics and Pub tests at 1024x768, thousands colors and general observations from normal applications and games use.
- 3D Performance: RaveBench, Walker, Infini-D 4.01, Ray Dream Studio 5.
- Game Performance: Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Rave Quake.
- Movie Playback: Scaling a 320x240 movie to 1024x768 (full screen) in Macbench tests.
- Software Controls: Software Controls features/ease of use.
- Hardware Design/Features: Hardware specifications/features.
- Price/Performance: Value for the money, all things considered.
The Summary page shows the totals and an overall evaluation of the product.
The systems used for test were a PowerComputing PowerTower Pro 180, 8600/350 and 9600/400, all 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 (PTP only). Disk cache was set to 512K, Virtual Memory was off. Installed Ram was 128MB on the PTP, 256MB on the 8600 and 192MB on the 9600. The Mac Rocket was installed in slot 1 of the PTP and 8600, Slot 6 (bottom) of the 9600. The PTP and 9600 had no other PCI cards installed, the 8600 had a IXmicro Turbo TV installed.
I make some comparisons here to reviews of more expensive cards, for more detail on those products see my reviews of the Ultimate Rez, ProRez, Nexus GA, Twin Turbo, Imagine 128 and of the MacPicasso 540/3DO video cards.
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 IXMicro Mac Rocket Graphics Card Review
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