DATELINE: January 1999 Issue
Mactell’s Vision3D Pro II Lite Wins the RaceBy Cameron Crotty
Not long ago, in a Macworld test of 2-D/3-D graphics accelerators, Mactell’s Vision3D Pro II 250 turned in some of the best scores but was also much pricier than the other cards (see ”
Quick on the Draw,” August 1998). Since then, Mactell stuffed nearly all that heat into a less expensive package, and it will be tough to beat.
In our search for the fastest pixels in the West, we tested three new 2-D/3-D accelerators: iXMicro’s ix3D Mac Rocket and ix3D Pro Rez, and Mactell’s Vision3D Pro II Lite. Both iXMicro boards use the company’s TwinTurbo 128-3D graphics chip. The $279 Mac Rocket comes with 4MB of RAM and includes composite-video- and S-Video-out ports. The $359 Pro Rez comes with 8MB of RAM; video-out ports are a $59 option. On the Vision3D, Mactell uses Number Nine’s Imagine 128 Ticket to Ride chip. We tested the card with 8MB of RAM ($349); a 4MB version costs $259.
All of these cards are noteworthy because-unlike game-specific 3-D accelerator cards such as Micro Conversions’ Game Wizard (see “Comin’ at Ya,” elsewhere in this issue)-they accelerate 2-D and 3-D graphics routines, including those used in 3-D modeling programs. Mactell gives a brief nod to game acceleration by implementing portions of Apple’s RAVE 3D game-acceleration libraries, but iXMicro ignores game-specific 3-D completely. None of these cards are intended for primary use as 3-D game accelerators.
With all three cards, installation is a piece of cake: just pop open your system and pick an empty PCI slot. The cards all include easy-to-use software installers.
For the most part, the companies’ video-control software worked as advertised. iXMicro includes a generous software bundle with each board. Mac Rocket features a full version of Kai’s Photo Soap from MetaCreations. Pro Rez includes Photo Soap plus two other MetaCreations packages, Bryce 2 and Expression.
When we put the cards through our test suite, Mactell’s Vision3D was the runaway winner. In 2-D tests, it was much faster than the G3 Power Mac’s built-in video, and it was slightly faster than the G3 in 3-D tests. The ix3D Pro Rez and Mac Rocket were only a hair faster than the G3 in 2-D performance. In 3-D tests, the iXMicro boards were slower than an unaccelerated G3.