#9's Imagine 128 Series 2 vs. IXMicro's Twin Turbo M8
- 3D Test Results

By Mike, Published: 8/17/1997
3D Graphics Performance Testing
Both these cards are good 2d performers, but neither card was especially impressive as far as 3D performance, at least in my opinion. The hardware accelerated 3D option of the Imagine's Hawkeye control panel did improve performance by a huge amount in Gerbils (in addition to doubling the viewing window size) but only slightly accelerated speeds in the more demanding Walker v1.1 tests (usually by about 2fps in the most complex areas). It seems that the high polygon counts in the Walker test scenes choked even the Imagine's hardware 3D engine. In the less demanding Gerbils test the Imagine's hardware assist resulted in up to 70% faster frame rates even in a 2x larger window.

Walker 1.1 Test:
The Walker test consists of four high polygon count 3d scenes that display in a 350x350 window. As shown in the chart below, all four Walker scenes were run, with the minimum frame rates recorded for each card. Two 360 degree spins where performed, and the lowest fps displayed was recorded. The chart lists the scene names and the number of polygons in each scene. As a side note, disabling the Imagine 128 hardware 3D assist in Hawkeye resulted in an approx 25% performance loss in most tests.

Walker v1.1 3D tests: 1024x768, 16-bit color, 75hz vertical refresh
Walker v1.1 test scores

In some areas of the Walker tests where little or no polygon's were displayed (literally blank areas) the hardware assist of the Imagine card would cause the fps rate to immediately jump to over 100fps, but for the main test areas the performance gain was minimal (20% or so) with the QD3D hardware acceleration enabled.

Gerbils Test:
In the "Gerbils" (v1.03) flythru test, run at 1152x870, thousands color mode, the Imagine's hardware assist did improve framerates significantly, even at the doubled window size (automatic when hardware assist was turned on). Framerates went as high as 170fps with the hardware assist on versus slightly over 100 (max) without (in a smaller window). The Twin Turbo frame rates reached as high as 80fps at the standard window size, about 15fps or so faster than the built-in 8500 video. Again the Imagine was consistently faster, but for the simple visual treat that Gerbils provides, all cards did well.

The downside to the Imagine 128's hardware assisted 3D setting is that no texture mapping is supported , so to view texture mapped images you must disable the Hawkeye control panel QD3D hardware switch to allow the Apple software renderer take over. No restart is required, the effect is immediate.

The Twin Turbo did a respectable job with the Walker tests, considering it had no specific 3d hardware support, and was about 25% faster in the Gerbils test than the built-in video. However for 3D performance, the edge again goes to the Imagine 128.

3D performance alone would not be a reason to purchase either of these cards, but then that's not their target market. In many cases the Imagine's hardware assist does provides visible gains in speed, at the loss of texture mapping capability.

I look forward to seeing future versions of IXMicro's 128/3D card and Number Nine's "Revolution 3D" - both of which promise much better 3d performance in addition to improved feature sets ( texture mapping, etc.). From what I hear - the Radius 3D and Newer RenderPix $2000+ cards may have trouble selling into the market when these cards arrive.

For simple 3d tasks with objects consisting of several hundred polygons these cards do a respectable job of providing fast feedback. I noticed literally no difference between the cards in Infini-D 4.0 with simpler scenes and models. I doubt that many users could actually detect the difference in these cards in most common 3D applications, although if you can live without texture mapping in your previews, the hardware assisted 3D of the Imagine 128 would be a plus on larger models.

As is true of most graphic applications, your amount of Ram, cache, processor type and speed play a large role in overall performance. In most cases for 3D applications you could argue it's the largest factor overall. (I intended to test the stock 8500/120 with these cards vs. a 8500/200 with only the built-in video to get a real idea of this impact, but due to delays I probably will have to return the cards before this can be done.)

3D Tests Winner: Imagine 128

on to QD Primitives Tests =>>

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