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Diamond's Monster 3D II

Diamond's Monster 3D II
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The Monster 3D II was the first Voodoo2 board ever technically reviewed, but Diamond wasn't able to be first to market with it. A lot of stuff went on about this in the weeks before Creative Labs released the first Voodoo2 board, but now things seem to get back to a normal level. There was seemingly also some kind of confusion about my review of the pre-release Monster 3D II and after that was almost forgotten by everyone and by myself as well, a person at Ziff Davis' Gamespot had to make an unprofessional sidemark against me, probably as a result of Ziff Davis' anger with my article about the questionable value of 3D Winbench 98. I am pretty amused about the whole fuss generated by this article, suddenly now everyone at ZD is stating that you've got to 'understand' the benchmark properly, although nobody was bothered about this before my article. It sounds a bit like a company that produces a headache pill which increases your hair growth tremendously, and after women complain about it, the company says that of course this was always meant to be a hair growing drug. I will dedicate an article about it, including the statements of ZD officials. It seems as if ZD prefers me to emphasize even a bit more on this issue.

Getting back to the testing of the pre-release Monster 3D II board, here the official statements of representatives from Diamond and 3Dfx:

Tom:

I would officially like to clarify the situation regarding your review at the beginning of February of an early version of our Monster 3D II board using the 3Dfx Voodoo2 chipset:

Diamond knowingly gave you a Monster 3D II (Voodoo2) board to review at our Monster Night event in Paris

We expected you to review the board using your normal thorough technical analysis and post your review on the web

Through some internal mis-communication within Diamond, a private e-mail was sent to some Voodoo web sites (posted and/or summarized by them without our approval) which claimed that we did not want you to review the board - this internal Diamond e-mail was incorrect - Diamond management knew you would review the board and expected you to do so.

A statement was made on the web that 3Dfx was angry about your review in early February - this statement is also not true. I reconfirmed in a conversation today with Greg Ballard, CEO of 3Dfx, that not only was 3Dfx happy with your early review, but that they recommend your web site to analysts as a good source for thorough analysis of the performance of their product.

The Internet is an excellent medium for the dissemination of information.Unfortunately, the Internet is as effective at disseminating valid information as it is at disseminating invalid information. For anyone who questions the appropriateness of your actions in regard to your Monster 3D II review in early February, please feel free to advise them (you have permission to copy this e-mail as you wish) that Diamond considers your actions to be entirely appropriate.

Ken Wirt
Vice President of Corporate Marketing
Diamond Multimedia Systems, Inc.

Tom, I want to assure you that you we were not angered about your early review. Both as a company and as a group of individuals (now somewhat over 150), we have a lot of respect for you and your site. We are always sending out pointers to new articles that you have posted. In the last 4 interviews I have conducted in the U.S. we have mentioned your site ("you should see what Tom's Hardware" has to say about that...")

I'm sorry that idle gossip is being passed around. The fact is we like you and appreciate and respect your work.

Steve Schick, PR Manager, 3Dfx

I hope I'm not boring you with this, but it should show how much fun you can have in my job. It's scary sometimes.

Diamond comes out with their Monster 3D II in an 8 MB version this week (around March 12, 1998) and a 12 MB version will follow later on. I am not planning to repeat myself in this review, so that I will mainly emphasize on comparing the Monster 3D II with Creative Lab's 3D Blaster Voodoo2. Please have a look at the review of the pre-release Monster 3D II as well as on the review of the 3D Blaster Voodoo2 to get the whole story.

The Box

The Monster 3D II 8 MB comes with the following software bundle:

USA, Canada:

  • Jedi Knight - Dark Forces II : Pathways to the Force
  • Shadows of the Empire : Battle of Hoth
  • X-wing vs Tie Fighter : The Academy
  • Heavy Gear (Full Version) - by Activision
  • TombRaider II - Special Edition - by Eidos Interactive (3 levels of play)
  • Game Demo CD, featuring Final Fantasy , Daikatana , and Flight Unlimited II by Eidos Interactive
  • Game sampler CD featuring: Andretti Racing, Madden NFL 98, Need for Speed II SE, Nuclear Strike , and Wing Commander Prophecy by Electronic Arts

Europe:

  • Heavy Gear von Activision (Full Version)
  • Interstate 76 von Activision (Full Version)
  • Need for Speed II SE von Electronic Arts (Full Version)
  • Tomb Raider II von Eidos (OEM-Version)
  • Joint Strike Fighter von Eidos (playable Demo)
  • Flight Unlimited von Eidos (playable Demo)
  • Final Fantasy VII von Eidos (non-interactive Demo)
  • Also included in the box is a 1.5" SLI cable and a pretty massive pass through cable, which gives a very good and expensive impression.

Running The Monster 3D

Diamond says they supply 'their own' drivers, but the speed of the driver is identical to the 3Dfx reference driver that comes with Creative Labs 3D Blaster Voodoo2. The main difference is that Diamond's driver checks the board so that it cannot run with a board of a different manufacturer and the control options in the display properties look different. The most important thing is a slider than lets you change the clock speed of the Voodoo2 chip between 90 and 95 MHz. Hence you don't have to touch the windows Registry unless you want to overclock higher than 95 MHz.

This is the 'advanced' menu. The Monster 3D II runs at 92 MHz by default, the slider is pretty handy unless you want to go higher than 95 MHz.

That's what it looks like when you're running two boards in SLI mode. That's what you want guys, believe me!

I have to say that I was hardly ever as impressed as I was when I saw Incoming running at 1024x768 accelerated by these two Voodoo2 boards. The looks plus the speed blow you away!

Benchmarking

As already said above, my main focus in this benchmark comparison was comparing the 8 MB Monster 3D II to the 12 MB 3D Blaster Voodoo2, hence you will not find results of other cards here. Please look at the review of the 3D Blaster Voodoo2 for results of all other 3D chips currently on the market.







As you can see, there's hardly any performance difference between the two boards, only a slight edge of the 3D Blaster Voodoo2 due to its 4 MB more texture memory.

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    Mark Ruthven , May 12, 2013 10:27 PM
    i use to have one of these cards in my pentium 166 pc. The graphics were awesome playing quake 2.