The Graphic Accelerator Guide

Considerations For Professionals - Picture Quality

If you are working on your computer professionally one of the most important things is the picture quality. This is achieved by a high quality and high clocked RAMDAC. Most of the new graphic chips have included the RAMDAC internally, thus saving cost, but the best picture quality is still produced by an external RAMDAC. The most popular cards with external RAMDACs are Matrox Millennium I and II and Number Nine's Revolution 3D. These cards are still offering you the sharpest and cleanest picture on the screen. If you have got an expensive monitor, you want to use the high refresh rates your monitor supports. As a simple rule you should at least have a refresh rate of 85 Hz available for all the reolutions you want to use. Refresh rates of 120 and more sound nice, but they won't give you much of an advantage anymore. Responsible for this is again the RAMDAC. The higher its clock rate, the higher are possible refresh rates.

Considerations For Professionals - 2D Performance

The 2D performance was what used to determine the quality of a graphic card in the past. Now 2D acceleration seems pretty close to the limit and almost all cards are offering a good 2D performance, at least at 16 bit color modi. Good 2D performance in true color is a virtue that's pretty rare still though. Matrox and Number Nine always used to fight about the 2D performance crown and it hasn't changed much still. If you are working really professionally at your computer, you can impossibly use Microsoft's mouse driver collection called Windows 95. Hence you are either using Windows NT or some really good OS that's not from the monopolist. NT drivers are very important for professional cards and the NT performance should be more important than the Windows 95 performance. There is often quite a bit of a difference between NT and 95 performance.

Considerations For Professionals - OpenGL, Heidi

For people that use a real graphic workstation with CAD and/or 3D rendering, SGI's OpenGL as well as Heidi are of major importance. Nowadays if you hear 'PC' and 'OpenGL' one company comes into your minds ... 3DLabs. I will not discuss the real high end chips of 3DLabs, since this is off topic on this website, but 3DLabs' new Permedia 2 chip is one of the most impressive graphic chips on the market today in my opinion. For 3DLabs the Permedia 2 is nothing but a low end chip for the mass market, but amongst its competitors it's quite a gem in terms of professional work. In mid to higher prized systems cards with the Permedia 2 will offer you the best OpenGL performance combined with a good 2D and a fairly impressive Direct3D performance.

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