3D Accelerator Card Reviews

Diamond Monster 3D

The Monster 3D from Diamond is nowadays quite a famous card. This is due to the fact that it's probably the most sold add-on 3D card with 3Dfx Voodoo chip on the market. It shares its features with most of the other 4 MB Voodoo cards, the difference is mainly determined by the games it is sold with and the connector cable, which Diamond lately changed to a very high quality one.

To say it again, this card is used as addition to your existing graphic card, using up another PCI slot, but don't worry about IRQs, the Monster 3D doesn't need one. The card needs to be connected in between your exisiting graphic card and the monitor, using a special cable to connect the output of your normal graphic adapter with the 2D input of the Monster 3D. This procedure is the same as with any other Voodoo card, the only difference is the quality of the connection cable. If it is of low quality, it can degrade the quality of the 2D signal of your 2D graphic adapter. Diamond is lately using a very thick high quality cable.

3D graphic cards with 3Dfx Voodoo chip have pretty much revolutionized the gaming market in the last 12 months, because these cards can display high quality 3D at a pretty high speed. Many games are using the proprietary 3Dfx 'Glide'-engine to get the most out of the card, but the Direct3D support is excellent as well. Until recently, Voodoo cards were not only the quality, but also the performance leaders in the 3D gaming market and the performance is still pretty competitive. The Voodoo scales pretty clean from low end CPU to high end CPUs, giving even a 6x86 system the power for decent 3D gaming, as well as letting a PII 300 system fly.

One of the theoretical disadvantagesof the Voodoo chip is that it can accelerate 3D only in full screen mode, in a window the 3D application will run as if the Voodoo chip wasn't even there. However, this chip is made for 3D gaming, and who would play a 3D game in a window anyway? The next disadvantage is the limited 3D screen resolution. The Monster 3D ships with 4 MB onboard RAM, 2 MB for textures and 2 MB frame buffer. In 2 MB frame buffer you can only get a 3D resolution of 640x480 pixels and this is the limit of the Monster 3D as well as most other Voodoo cards. Only cards with more than 2 MB frame buffer can do higher 3D resolutions.

The advantages of the Monster 3D are much shinier than the disadvantages. First you can continue using your 2D graphic adapter, which comes in very handy if you've got a high quality 2D card that is crap at 3D, like e.g. the Matrox Millennium I and II. You can use the Monster 3D with any graphic adapter available, regardless if it's a 3D accelerator already, regardless if it's an AGP or PCI card. In case you are using it with a (maybe slower) 3D accelerator card, you only will have to tell the games which card or engine you want to use.

The second advantage is the wide support of 3Dfx's 3D engine. Hardly any games developer would dare not supporting the 3DFx 'Glide', and from what you hear, the games developers are pretty pleased with 3Dfx's engine anyway. This means that if you buy a game, you can count on good picture quality and high 3D performance with Diamond's Monster 3D. What else can you ask for? Reason number three is the Voodoo's 3D image quality. So far I still have to see a card that's supporting all the 3D features that the Voodoo supports. I haven't seen any game or benchmark yet, which wouldn't look best on the Monster 3D. The last reason for buying this card could be this special 'OpenGL' portation of the 'Glide'. This doesn't mean that the 3Dfx Voodoo can do real OpenGL, but it does OpenGL good enough for running some games written for OpenGL, like the famous GLQuake or the newer GLHexen. A Quake player that hasn't seen GLQuake on the Voodoo chip hasn't really played Quake. It is almost unreal how much better it looks than the standard version. Quake II will support the Glide in an GL version as well.

All in all the Diamond Monster 3D is still one hell of a 3D gaming card and you can use it in any system.

3D Image Quality

Motoracer: The Monster 3D offers a perfect 3D image.

Final Reality: A perfect image; cross, exhausts and cloud - everything looks fine.

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