And the Winner is:
Number Nine Imagine 128 Series 2:
As you probably have guessed by now, the Imagine 128 was the overall winner in this review. It seemed to run at its best in the hi-color, hi-res modes and offered the best benchmark and real world tests at these settings. In addition, the Hawkeye control panel offered several unique features that I found beneficial in actual use. The smooth scrolling and instant zooms, along with its superb image quality and speed gave it the edge over the Twin Turbo. Although the Hawkeye 4.50 driver was just released, the card was rock solid in heavy application use and exhibited extremely reliable performance.

Although its street price is higher than the Twin Turbo by as much as $300, most serious graphics professions would probably pay the additional amount for the benefits it provides. It was the card of choice for a recent high end monitor test by a leading magazine publication as well, due to its 250mhz ramdac and excellent image quality at extremely high resolutions and refresh rates.

For those that have the monitor to support it - the Imagine 128 will run true-color resolutions as high as 1920x1200 at 72hz refresh, besting the Twin Turbo's practical resolution limit of 1600x1200, 75hz refresh (the Twin Turbo will do 1920x1080, but only at a flickering 60hz refresh rate in millions color mode).

Considering the total package - it's street price of $750 is a good value for the serious graphics professional.

Note: Due to the high demand and extremely limited supplies at the current time I could not find a (1997!) price lower than CMP Express's $684.35 (their part # 520014). I had obtained a $650 price about a month ago but not today. In fact, the cards are in such high demand that you may have trouble finding one in stock. This should change in the next few weeks. MacMall has the 4meg version (item #98046 ) as low as $230.29, but was out of stock as was the 8meg. As long as demand is so high and supply so low the price will probably remain near the SRP at the major mail order houses.

PriceWatch was used to find the lowest price - but be aware some versions may have a 220mhz DAC (so called "white box" or "brown box" versions) - usually $30 lower in price. Verify that you're getting the full retail version, and in the case of 4meg cards - a Series 2.

For more information on the Imagine 128 Series 2,
visit Number Nine's Product Page.
(No longer in business)

IXMicro Twin Turbo M8:
Although the Twin Turbo did not win this comparison, it performed very well - exceeding the Imagine's performance in some tests. It delivers excellent overall performance and image quality at the resolutions I used, and with the exception of the 4.02 driver issue in MacBench, I had no problems with it in any graphics applications.

The Twin Turbo delivers a lot of performance for the money, and with (1997) prices as low as $450, it is probably the most affordable high performance graphics card in the Mac marketplace.

For more information on the Twin Turbo M8,
visit IXMicro's Product Page.
(No longer in business)

Closing Comments
I apologize for the delays in publishing the results, but the task of testing, compling and writing the HTML for a report this detailed took a very long time. Real life commitments often got in the way, and on many occasions I never made it to bed at night - working on the tests and report until it was time to go to that other job (the one that pays the bills).

I hope the results are useful to you. If you have any comments or questions please feel free to contact me.

A reminder for my readers:
As usual this article would not be possible without the help of the manufacturers and/or dealers of the products. If you feel this review has been helpful to you in any way, please let the vendors of these products know you read this review and consider this site worthwhile. That will help lead to more products being submitted for review. This site is totally non-profit, and I'll gladly spend the time to provide this service, but this site can only grow with the support of the product manufacturers and dealers. Your comments and feedback to us and the product vendors are encouraged and very helpful in providing you with future product reviews.

Special Thanks to:

  • MacGurus for submitting the Twin Turbo's and having the best prices on the Net. These guys will not be undersold. Let them know you appreciate their efforts and give them a look the next time you need memory, cache or a video or cpu card. You just might save a bundle. Unlike some of those other guys that sell cpu cards, they really know their products. BTW: They have the lowest price I've seen on the Twin Turbo

  • Number Nine for loaning me the Imagine 128 - even during a period of extremely limited supply. I've used their outstanding Imagine 128 on the PC as well, and they have a history of delivering top shelf graphics cards for the demanding graphics professional.

  • IXMicro - for making the Twin Turbo one of the most popular high-performance cards out there - and keeping it affordable to boot.

    With the quality of these two products and their price ranges, if I were Radius I'd be a little concerned about my market share ;^). (Emails to them about submitting a product were never returned BTW). These two products are proof you don't need to spend $1000 to $3000 to have a professional level graphics card anymore. I'd like to personally thank both IXMicro and Number Nine for their continued support of the Macintosh platform.

    [Update: In early 2000, IXMicro closed their doors, ceasing production of Mac video cards. Several months later, Number Nine also ceased video card production.]

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