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IXMicro Mac Rocket Graphics Card Review
Review Date: 8/11/98
2D Tests Results
The Mac Rocket's strong point is 2D speed, and in that respect it excels. It's the fastest 2D card available at the time of this review in the $250 and under price range. It delivers practically the same performance as its more expensive cousins the ProRez and Ultimate Rez which have more memory and/or faster Ramdacs (Ult. Rez) for better high res. performance. A year ago you'd have paid many times this price for this kind of general graphics performance. Below are Macbench scores of the Mac Rocket in the PTP180, 8600 and 9600 with several other graphics cards shown for comparison.
MacBench 4.0 Tests:
I ran tests of 2D performance at 1024x768, thousands colors mode at 75 Hz refresh rate and at 1152x870, millions color mode (on all but the 9600). The MacBench 4.0 scores for the standard Graphics, Low and High Resolution Publishing tests are shown below. Performance of several other cards are also shown for reference.
PTP 180 Tests: Thousands Colors Mode - 1024x768
Note in the above chart, even the $800+ Vision 3D Pro II card was only 1% faster in the standard graphics test (17% in the pub test). It would be hard to "see" that small difference in performance in actual use. Granted owners of that expensive a card would not normally be running at 1024x768, thousands colors.
The next tests I ran in the PTP180 were at 1152x870, millions colors. The scores are shown below.
PTP180 Tests: Millions Colors Mode - 1152x870
Apple 8600/350 Tests:
To answer the question of how the ProRez compares to the 8600 onboard video with 2MB and 4MB of VRAM, I installed the card in my overclocked 8600/350 and ran tests at 1024x768, thousands colors and 1152x870, millions colors. The results are shown in the following two graphs:
Notice the Mac Rocket left the 8600 onboard video in the dust on the high-res pub test. The Rocket was more than three times faster than the 8600 video in that test.
Apple 9600/400 Tests:
Since many 9600 owners were somewhat disappointed in the performance of the stock OEM Twin Turbo, I decided to test the Mac Rocket in my 9600/350 (overclocked to 400MHz). I used the latest v4.05 driver for the Twin Turbo, a big improvement over previous versions. I also used the latest v3.2 driver for the ATI RagePro 3D card as well as version 3.1. The ATI card was tested with both 4MB and 8MB with the version 3.1 driver.
As you can see, 2D MacBench scores were very impressive. The Mac Rocket left the onboard video of the 8600 in the dust at higher resolutions and was a top performer. In the 9600, all cards tested were close in the standard graphics test at millions colors, you'd never see the difference of less than 10% in actual use.
Applications tests were run in the 9600/400. I used a 188 page Word document with a mix of tables and font sizs as a scroll test using the page down key. Screen resolution was set to 1024x768, thousands colors (times were literally unchanged in millions colors mode btw). Always remember with any stopwatch run tests there can easily be a few tenths of a second errors in starting and stopping the clock, so it's best to consider times within a few tenths to be identical. The 188 page Word 98 scroll test results are shown below.
Word 98 Scroll Test - 188 Page Document
Mac Rocket (4MB)
ATI RagePro 3D (4MB)
ATI RagePro 3D (8MB)
ATI RagePro 3D (8MB)
OEM Twin Turbo (8MB)
Not a lot of difference between the cards (at least running in the 9600/400) is it?
Photoshop 4 tests:
I used a 3MB, 300 DPI image for a scrolling test in Photoshop. I didn't use a larger image to ensure that Photoshop did not use the scratch disk which could skew results (it's another variable and not repeatable with any consistency). I tested both horizontal and vertical scrolling at 1024x768, millions colors with the cards installed in the 9600/400. The results are shown below:
ATI 3D 4MB
ATI 3D 8MB
ATI 3D 8MB
OEM TT 8MB
Considering the excellent performance in benchmarks and from general use in applications, I rated 2D performance a 9.5
Index of IXMicro Mac Rocket Graphics Card Review
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