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MacTell Vision 3D Pro II Video Card Review
Review date: 3/27/1998
Ticket 2 Ride/Imagine III chip based PCI Video Card
Update: OS 8.1 Test Results & ATM/Font Cache Issue
Intro | 2D Performance  | 3D Performance | Game Performance  | Movie Playback | Features | Summary
Introduction

Ever since I bought my #9 Revolution 3D (PC) video card based on the Ticket 2 Ride Chip (T2R) I wanted a see a Mac version. Thankfully, Mactell is marketing the Formac designed Mac version as the Vision 3D Pro II here in the US.

I felt if the drivers were good and took full advantage of the features of the T2R chip, the card would be a winner, providing blazing 2D performance and the best 3D performance of any of the combination 2D/3D cards on the market (in the under $1000 range at least).

My suspicions were correct for the most part, as 2D speed was best of class by a slight margin and the current drivers do well in 3D, but I don't think the 3D potential of the chip is fully realized in the current drivers. I am hoping for improvements in 3D performance in future releases.

Speaking of driver updates, during this review I tested with no less than 3 versions, with a fourth (beta) arriving just as I had finished all the graphs of the test data. Of all the final release driver versions, Formac's GA-5.1.2 (dated 3/26/1998) delivered the best performance. (At press time, MacTell sent a beta 5.1.2.1 driver, but I saw no improvements in 2D or 3D based on several tests.)


The Vision 3D Pro II was rated on a scale of 1-10 in each of the following categories:

  1. 2D Performance: MacBench Graphics and Pub tests at 1024x768 and 1152x870 and general observations from normal applications use.
  2. 3D Performance: RaveBench, Walker, Infini-D 4.01, Ray Dream Studio 5.
  3. Game Performance: Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Rave Mechwarrior II, Rave Quake, Korea.
  4. Movie Playback: Objective performance with Quicktime and Mpeg movies.
  5. Software Controls: Software Controls features/ease of use.
  6. Hardware Design/Features: Hardware specifications/features.

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 7.6.1 with the standard array of Quicktime 2.5 and Quickdraw 3D 1.5.3, PC exchange, Connectix's Speed Doubler 2. Disk cache was set to 512K, Virtual Memory was off. Installed Ram was 384MB, and all other PCI slots were empty.

The Vision 3D Pro II card was tested in both the top and bottom PCI slots, with identical results. I used OS 7.6 again to remain consistent with my other video card reviews, and as before, screen resolution was set to 1024x768, thousands colors. Since the retail price of this card was over $500, tests at 1152x870, millions colors were also run as done on reviews of the Ultimate Rez, Nexus GA, Twin Turbo, Imagine 128 and of the MacPicasso 540/3D0 video cards.

 

Update: Vision Pro II under OS 8.1 To answer the question of how the card would perform using the latest OS and Speed Doubler 8.1, I installed OS 8.1 on the PTP 180 and reran the tests with the Vision Pro II's latest drivers (the fastest ones I saw during the review). I also installed Speed doubler 8.1, and even turned off the keyboard macros to give as much time to the CPU as possible. (Note - the images linked in the next paragraph are not trimmed to reduce size like I normally do, and the RaveBench graph is large without trimming out the extra resolutions. File sizes are fairly small however.)

Tests in MacBench at 1024x768, thousands colors, (Graphics and Lo-Res Pub tests) showed speed the same , in fact a hair slower and ditto for the hi-res tests at 1152x870, millions colors (3 to 4% slower in both tests). Walker and RaveBench tests were also run and showed showed zero improvement, in fact one test in RaveBench showed a very tiny decrease, within the variation of the tests though (I ran the test twice and graphed the best of the two runs).

So the claim of "major 2d Quickdraw changes" in OS 8.1 were proven false. I ensured that the same extensions were active (I turned off appletalk, ethernet, speech, etc.). I want to thank the person that posted the message for getting me to do this, as it made me stop putting off the upgrade!

I'll be posting graphs of the results in the review tomorrow. Bottom line is that OS 7.6.1 was actually very slightly faster with the card and drivers in the same machine as OS 8.1 was. I actually expected a little increase, but performance was practically identical.

Compatibility Update: I've gotten a report of font corruption when Adobe's Type Manager (ATM) extension is used and the Font Cache is enabled in the control panel. For a image showing this problem click here. Apparently this also affects the Imagine 128 series 2 cards. Since I don't use ATM normally, I did not see the problem during the review. As of 4/26/98 there is no fix.
 

Feedback

I welcome comments about this review and/or the product.


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 MacTell Vision 3D Pro II Review Pages

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

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