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IXMicro Mac Rocket Graphics Card Review
Review date: 8/11/98
3D Tests Results
Since I knew from past experience with the Ultimate Rez and ProRez that 3D performance would not be great. Considering that the Mac Rocket had only 4MB of memory, evaluation of 3D performance was limited to using NewTek's Inspire 3D since I knew little would be gained by testing other apps based on past reviews with cards using the same graphics chip.
As with the Ultimate Rez and ProRez, 3D is the achilles heel of the card. Although performance is fine for casual work at lower resolutions with simple models, if demanding 3D or RAVE Games are your primary use the Mac Rocket is not a card I would recommend. However if you primarily need 3D only for games, pairing this card with a 3Dfx card (like the Power3D) would make a nice combination that addresses both 2D speed and games.
Inspire 3D Tests:
I used NewTek's Inspire 3D to evaluate 3D performance, but since the Mac Rocket has only 4MB of SGRAM, hardware assisted RAVE resolutions are limited to 640x480 with a Z-Buffer (depth culling buffer), 800x600 without a Z-Buffer. If you click on the thumbnails below of a sample Inspire shaded model you'll see that the Mac Rocket had some artifacts that were not present in the ATI Rage Pro 3D card, even when the 4MB ATI card was running a higher resolution. In fact even the Twin Turbo had smoother shading than the Mac Rocket. I've written IXMicro about this, possibly a driver issue on the initial release.
I've yet to see any huge differences between the 3D hardware accelerated video cards in any application, but the texture mapping and shaded views are a nice feature. For best performance make sure you have a fast CPU card and lots of RAM.
I used Village Tronic's RaveBench 1.1.1 as both a benchmark and visual features check of the card. It runs several tests of texture mapping, transparency, movement, and environment mapping functions. For some reason I had problems getting RaveBench to automatically run the tests on the Mac Rocket, and even with Apple's software Rave driver and low resolutions (640x480) I saw abnormalities in at least one of the tests (most of them when the IXMicro hardware Rave driver was enabled). For Rave performance, nothing I've seen in the price range compares to the ATI Rage Pro cards (although the IXMicro cards are faster at 2D).
As mentioned previously, hardware assisted Rave is only available on the IXmicro cards at millions colors, and with only 4MB of memory the Mac Rocket had to be run in 640x480 screen mode to allow for a Z-Buffer and 3D hardware assist. I ended up using the Apple software Rave driver however due to image quality issues with the IXMicro driver in many of the RaveBench feature tests.
RaveBench 1.1.1 Results - 640x480
I was unable to run RaveBench at my usual 1024x768 2D screen mode (640x480 RAVE window) due to the previously mentioned card memory limit. Running at 640x480 2D screen mode allowed RaveBench to display images in the test windows, but the images showed texture/mapping anomalies with the IXmicro Rave driver making it unsatisfactory for use. The automated test series would not run even wiht the Apple driver. I manually cycled through each test mode to see the image quality and noted even with the Apple software driver the environment mapping test image as not correct. Possibly this is a feature not supported by the card. I captured screens of the different tests (linked below) while running the Apple software driver but since RaveBench would not run the automated tests I don't show a score for the MacRocket until I resolve the problem.
Since the drivers appear to be the same version as the ProRez (even the Bios rev on the card is the same as the ProRez) I'm at a loss to explain why the tests would not run even at 640x480 and using the Apple driver. Possibly a later driver release will address this or I have a suspect card. I'll try again on another Mac with a fresh copy of RaveBench and report my findings.
Clicking on the name of the test in the table below will show a screen capture of that specific test for the Mac Rocket. Since RaveBench would not run the automated test on the PTP180 I'm listing the ProRez scores below for reference, as it is the same basic card design (ram and graphics chip) and should perform similarily.
Numeric Scores of all RaveBench tests
(1024x768, millions colors)
34.7 fps 30.5 fps 7.35 fps 36.6 fps 5.9 fps 8.1 fps 23.5 fps 5.5 fps 7.7 fps 41 fps 5.8 fps 8.2 fps 19.2 fps 3.9 fps 5.2 fps 19 fps 2.5 fps 4.5 fps
I hope to be able to sucessfully run the RaveBench tests on the MacRocket on another machine possibly and will update the page accordingly.
For a explanation of RaveBench's tests, see my Illustrated Guide to RaveBench.
Walker 1.1 Tests:
I ran three scenes in Lightwork's Walker 3D viewer with the 2D screen set to 1024x768, thousands colors (Walker used a 350x350 default window size). As expected the scores were identical to the ProRez card since they both use the same graphics chip and were running the same software (Apple) Rave driver. Hardware RAVE support is not supported in thousands color mode.
I list the lowest framerate seen in the rotation of the scene, as that indicates how the card handles the toughest part of the scene. The ProRez and Mac Rocket had the exact same framerates.
The minimum framerates seen in two 360 degree spins for each of the three Walker scenes is shown below, with several other popular cards shown for comparison:
- Mac Rocket: 5.81 fps
- ProRez: 5.81 fps
- Xclaim 3D: 8.11 fps
- Xclaim VR: 8.33 fps
- Vision 3D: 6.67 fps
- Vision 3D Pro II: 4.29 fps (driver 5.1.2)
- 3D Overdrive: 6.00 fps
- Nexus GA: 8.00 fps
- Mac Rocket: 6.32 fps
- ProRez: 6.32 fps
- Xclaim 3D: 9.38 fps
- Xclaim VR: 9.38 fps
- Vision 3D: 7.74 fps
- Vision 3D Pro II: 5.81 fps (driver 5.1.2)
- 3D Overdrive: 7.06 fps
- Nexus GA: 9.38 fps
- Mac Rocket: 7.27 fps
- ProRez: 7.27 fps
- Xclaim 3D: 12.73 fps
- Xclaim VR: 12.73 fps
- Vision 3D: 9.38 fps
- Vision 3D Pro II: 9.09 fps (driver 5.1.2)
- 3D Overdrive: 9.68 fps
- Nexus GA: 12.73 fps
In summary, 3D performance was disappointing and trailed all the other cards I've tested. Based on what I saw running the Mac Rocket in the PTP 180 on these tests, I rated 3D performance a 4 (subtracting points for the artifacts I saw in Inspire and in RaveBench).
The next page shows results I had running several popular games.
Index of IXMicro Mac Rocket Graphics Card Review
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