ATI Rage Pro II.
Graphics Card Review

Graphics Card Review - Part 1

November 1998

Matrox, Voodoo, ATI and others all want your cash for some serious eye candy - but who's worthy enough to earn your folding green stuff?

GLQuake running in 24bit colour
GLQuake - Running in 24 bit colour - This is want I wanted to run most of all

There are an awful lot of 3D graphics cards out there in consumer land at the moment and if youíre thinking of getting one, unless youíve seen a friends card and you know the games you want will run on it, chances are youíre screaming out for some advice on which one to buy. Well, the bad news I canít give it to you. But I can give you the benefit of my experience.

The graphics card that I got in my machine was a plain Cirrus Logic. Iíd read a lot of reviews and had heard that the ATI Expert@Play was good. It would run GLQuake (the version rewritten for 3DFX and compatible cards), and it had a TV Out socket, which was something else I was interested in. So I toddles off to the shops, plastic in hand, and tried to buy one. Except that it wasnít out yet. I left disappointed and contacted ATI to get the low-down. Itís being released in a month sir, they said. Well, that was no good, I wanted one NOW. So I scoured the magazine reviews again, looked at the special offers that the shops had to offer, and decided to plump for the forerunner to the Expert@Play, the ATI Rage Pro II. Like its successor, it also had TV Out, and was going for £99 + VAT. I got it home, installed it and was a bit miffed. It was just a really good graphics card, not really a 3D card as such. All my games did seem to run faster, especially Quake, which was still my favourite at the time, but it had no specific 3D drivers, so none of that fancy mip-mapping, anti-aliasing and fog effects that Iíd heard so much about were to be mine. Still, I wasnít that disappointed, and I could now play games on the TV, which is great when you want to play something easy like Trivial Pursuit, or even surf the net whilst slouching on some cushions on the living room floor.

But, Iím a perfection obsessed creature, and after a couple of months, I wanted all that fancy 3D stuff I thought I was buying originally. Not really wanting to sell the ATI, and buy another card, I was interested to hear about the Matrox M3D card. It worked in conjunction with any other graphics card, and was supposed to be better than Matroxís previous efforts. However, unlike the Mystique, the Millennium et al, the M3D was is powered by the Power VR chipset, as opposed to the 3DFX chipset. Potentially more powerful, but as yet not as well supported. Well, I thought, thatís sounds like my cup of tea. So, I decided to buy one. And, guess what - yes, they werenít available in the shops yet. Would you bloody believe it? Apparently, the workers in the Matrox factory had gone on strike, hence the release date had been put back by a month or two. So, I waited - patiently, and waited, and waited some more. Until when it WAS released, I hadnít the money to afford it any more. But to cut a long story short, eventually come Christmas time, I treated myself and splashed out on the M3D. Disappointment number one, I didnít pay £75, I paid £89.99 + VAT (17.5% for you stateside readers). Well, never mind I thought, Iíve got it now. Installation was a breeze, and I couldnít wait to try out some software.

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