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MacTell Vision 3D Pro II Video Card Review (1998)
Review Summary
Intro | 2D Performance  | 3D Performance | Game Performance  | Movie Playback | Features | Summary
Documentation

There was no documentation supplied with the review card, but MacTell later sent a manual in Acrobat (PDF) file format. They say manuals are in printing now. The card and software were simple to install and configure, but a manual of some kind should be supplied with any card, especially one in this price range.

Future shipments should contain the printed version of the manual and existing owners can download the Acrobat version at Mactell site. (RIP now)

 

Software Bundle

The only supplied software was a floppy disk containing the control panel and a readme file. Check the MacTell product page or Formac's software page (GA-Software) often for driver updates. During this review I saw at least 3 updates (5.1.1, 5.1.2, 5.1.2.1 beta).

 

System Requirements

PowerPC PCI Macintosh with 1 free PCI slot.

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

 

Pricing and Availability

At the time of this review (March 98), suggested retail price for the card from MacTell (in 1998) was $995, but I was told they were lowering the price to $895.

 

Summary

Althought I had hoped for better Rave support, it's hard to complain about this card other than price. It posted the fastest scores I've seen in MacBench, was a pleasure to use in Photoshop and other applications, had a great set of controls and great image quality.

With the XLR8 G3 CPU card running at 322/214, it became the first card I've tested to date (1998) to break 1000 in the Macbench Graphics test (at both 1024x768, thousands colors and 1152x870, millions colors) and broke the 1100 mark at the low-res pub test at 1024x768, thousands colors. (I will be testing the new Ultimate Rez drivers soon with the XLR8 G3 card to see how it compares).

Since this is really not a game card, my only complaints regarding a lack of Rave features support in some games will not be a concern for most buyers. I almost hesitated to mention it, but I want to rate all cards the same way, and game performance is a valid category.

The Vision 3D Pro II provides 3D on par with the Nexus GA (except in games), far better than the Ultimate Rez, and the best 2D performace I've seen on the Mac with excellent MPEG and Quicktime movie image quality to boot. That's not a bad combination.

The Vision 3D Pro II is higher priced than any of the cards I had for comparison (Imagine 128S2, Nexus GA and Ultimate Rez) and I know you're asking "Is it worth the extra $300 over the Nexus and/or the Ultimate Rez?"

If you work in very high resolutions and color depths - the answer is yes in my opinion. Although it's not a lot faster than the Ultimate Rez, I think the current drivers are more stable and I liked the total package of features better.

If you're less demanding of 2D speed then the other cards may satisfy your needs at lower cost. If 3D/Rave is not important, the Ultimate Rez provides close to the same 2D performance with a great software bundle for a few hundred less, but seems to have problems with Quicktime and 3D acceleration in the current drivers.

Personally if price was no object (or if prices drop a bit), this card would be riding in my Ultimate Mac project system. Something about owning a card that broke 1000 in Macbench that appeals to the speed addict in me. Plus I've always found the Imagine 128 based chip cards to be superb high-color cards in quality and performance. I've always thought they were the highest quality cards on the market, but with prices to match.

MacTell Vision 3D Pro II
Summary of Ratings:

  • 2D Performance: 10
  • 3D Performance: 8
  • Game Performance: 7
  • Movie Playback: 9
  • Software Controls: 10
  • Hardware Design/Features: 9
    ---------------------
    Total: 53 (of a possible 60)

Based on these scores, you can apply your own weighting of each feature to determine if this card is right for your needs. If you throw out the games score, the total looks a lot better.

For the graphics artist that doesn't want to spend $1200 or more for a high end Radius card, the Vision 3D Pro II would be my first choice. I suspect it is actually faster than cards twice the price in 2D. It would be interesting to have a Radius Thunder 3D card for comparison.

It's been a pleasure to review this card, and thanks to MacTell for submitting it for review (and extending the 10 day loaner period). I hope I've provided some insight into the card and a good feel for it's capabilities but if you have any further questions let me know.


Index of Vision 3D Pro II Video Card Review Pages

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

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