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3D Accelerator Card Reviews

ATI XPERT@WORK/PLAY

ATI's Rage Pro chip is currently the only high end AGP chip, that supports the AGP x2 mode. This doesn't necessarily make it faster than other chips, but as AGP improves, the Rage Pro can take advantage of it. ATI is shipping two different cards with this chip, the XPERT@Work and the XPERT@Play, both in AGP and PCI versions. The XPERT@Play only differs for the XPERT@Work by offering an additional video out for connecting it to your TV in case ou fancy that. The performance of both cards is identical.

The XPERT cards are also available for quite a while and the drivers have been improved a lot as well. Whilst the Direct3D performance of the XPERT cards could hardly reach the magic 3Dfx results until a few weeks ago, the latest (but publicy unavailable) performance drivers leave the 3Dfx cards behind by 20%, reaching placement no. 2 right behind the cards with NVidia's RIVA 128 chip. ATI's Rage Pro also offers a very good 3D image quality, making it the only other chip next to the 3Dfx Voodoo, that would display the city scene of the Final Reality benchmark without any flaws. It's not quite as perfect as the Voodoo though, because it doesn't perform a very good looking 'linear filtering' as visible in Motoracer.

Now although the XPERT cards are certainly excellent for Direct3D gaming, the professional user will also be very pleased with the very good 2D performance, which is more or less in par with Diamond's Fire GL 1000 Pro. The only thing you shouldn't do is expecting a decent OpenGL performance though. ATI's Rage Pro seems to be the slowest new 3D chip under OpenGL.

A very good 3D paired with a very good 2D performance, the support of 4 and 8 MB onboard RAM, hence the support of up to 1280x1024 3D resolution and last but not least the optional TV output make this card a very good all-round solution, apealing to gamers as well as professionals ... as long as you don't require OpenGL.

If you plan on using the XPERT card in a Socket 7 system, you'll be pleased to hear that the 3D performance isn't bad even with slower CPUs, however, the Diamond Stealth and cards with NVidia's Riva 128 are faster. You've got to be careful using an XPERT card as AGP version with a Socket 7 board that uses VIA's Apollo VP3 chipset, because you'll face some serious compatibility as well as performance problems. These problems don't occur if you are using the PCI version with these boards.

3D Image Quality

Motoracer: Blocky road textures, just as the Permedia 2 chip, this ruines the spotless Rage Pro image.

Final Reality: Perfect work, all features shown, no flaws visible.