Diamond Fire GL 1000 Pro
The Fire GL 1000 Pro was together with ATI's XPERT cards one of the first AGP cards available. It's using 3DLabs' Permedia 2 chip and comes with 8 MB onboard SGRAM. Since its first release the drivers have improved a lot, particularly improving the performance in 3D Winbench 97.
3DLabs are known for their OpenGL accelerating products and the Permedia 2 chip is no exceptionto this rule. It's the only one of all the currently released new 3D chips that has a really good OpenGL performance, which makes this chip kinda unique. Although the good OpenGL support as well as the very good 2D performance will mainly appeal the professional user, the Direct3D performance of the Fire GL 1000 Pro is pretty impressive, making it the number 3 closely behind cards with NVidia's RIVA 128 and ATI's Rage Pro chip. It's price is lower than a Matrox Millennium II with 8 MB RAM, which makes this card very attractive for any user.
The only real disadvantage of this card is the lack of 'alpha transparency' support. This makes e.g. the city scene of Final Reality look really pretty awful. The Permedia 2 chip also doesn't support 'fog table', but this is a feature hardly ever used. As long as games use 'color key transparency', you won't notice the lack of 'alpha transparency' either, but even the black smoke in Motoracer is already a hint that games are using this feature.
If you look at price/performance you'll find out that ATI's XPERT cards are closest to the Fire GL 1000 Pro. If you want to make a decision between these two unequal felows you'll have to decide what's more important to you. Excellent OpenGL support or excellent 3D image quality. For people that use OpenGL applications, the ATI cards won't be an option. However, the Fire GL 1000 Pro is certainly no good solution for systems with weak CPUs, because then the ATI XPERT as well as the Diamond Stealth II leave it quite a bit behind in 3D Winbench.
All in all is Diamond's Fire GL 1000 Pro a very attractive high end card, with good Direct3D support, average 3D image quality, great OpenGL performance and very good 2D performance. This is the right card for professional users who like playing games, like e.g. myself. If you can spend the money, why not getting a 3Dfx card as well? This is probably the perfect solution.
3D Image Quality
Motoracer: You can see the blocky road texture, no good linear filtering and dithering.
Final Reality Benchmark: Look at the exhausts of the rockets, there's a black area around it. This is the missing alpha transparency feature. Note the cross, which looks fine, since the Permedia 2 supports tri-linear filtering. However, also no cloud/fog visible.