Engstrom, Reviews Editor
Background: When ATI's Rage 128 cards first
came out the only way to get one was inside a Yosemite Power
Mac. Mac users looking to upgrade were stuck with older ATI
Rage Pro cards or cards from other manufacturers entirely.
After what seemed an eternity, the Rage 128 cards finally
made their way to the store shelves. The Rage Orion most closely
matches the cards used in the Yosemite
series and the new graphite G4's although the latter uses
a 2x AGP slot. The Rage 128 series support some legacy Apple
graphics standards like QuickDraw 3D and RAVE as well as new
ones like OpenGL.
Test Machine Configuration: Our test machine
was a 9500 with a G3/400 upgrade card from XLR8,
96MB RAM and OS 9 installed. We tested with an extension set
comprised of all OS extensions plus those required by the
XLR8 card. For the ATI tests used the most recent drivers
downloaded from the ATI site. For the MacBench tests virtual
memory was turned off and disk cache was set to 512k. These
settings are consistent with those used on the MacBench base
reference machine, a beige G3/300. For the real world tests
we turned virtual memory on and set it to 97MB. Our monitor
was a 19" Sony Trinitron.
The Experience: The ATI card made its presence
known immediately when I opened the "Monitors" control
panel. The list of supported resolutions
and refresh rates was truly impressive, all, of course,
at millions of colors! I opted for 1024x768 at 120Hz which
provided both an ultra crisp display and plenty of screen
real estate. The Rage Orion comes with three games, Tomb Raider
II, Myth II and FutureCop LAPD. Unfortunately, only this last
one is the full game, the first two are demos. I installed
and played FutureCop before installing the ATI card to get
a feel for the difference and what a difference there was!
The game was definitely playable using the stock graphics
card in the 9500 but the graphic's textures had that tell-tell
blocky look that lets you know your card isn't giving you
the "full picture." With the Rage Orion card installed
the game's graphics became smooth and rich. I am not a fan
of the blood-splat game genre but still found myself sucked
in by the visuals. Next I opened the Star Wars: Episode I
QuickTime trailer and scaled it as large as possible while
still maintaining the proper aspect ratio. This would have
brought the stock card to its knees but the Orion kicked the
movie out with great image quality and nary a hiccup. The
2D experience was less impressive. While scrolling in applications
like AppleWorks and DreamWeaver was somewhat faster, I expected
more impressive gains. The one exception was Photoshop which
showed a striking gain when scrolling a 10MB document viewed
at 800%. Here the scroll time was cut to almost one third
of the stock card.
||Rage Orion - Rage 128/16MB
||Easy to install; comes with
decent selection of games although 2 are limited or demos;
OpenGL, RAVE, and QuickDraw 3D support; QuickTime movies
look great! 5 year warranty
||Mixed 2D performance
MacBench 5.0 Scores
MacBench 5.0 is a subsystem-level benchmark that measures
the performance of a Mac's processor, disk, and graphics subsystems
to name a few. We only ran the graphics tests of course. MacBench
normalizes all scores relative to the base machine, a Power
Macintosh G3/300. The base machine receives a score of 1000.
For all MacBench tests, higher numbers mean better performance.
You should note that for these tests we set the monitor to
16bit color (thousands) as opposed to the 32 bit (millions)
setting used for the MacBench base G3/300. Neither of the
scores below should be compared with the G3/300. For more
detailed information on MacBench click
"Real World" Tests
For all of the real world tests below we used the following
settings. In all cases except the Unreal FPS test, shorter
bars are better.
Time to Scroll a 574 page AppleWorks document from top to bottom.
- Monitor resolution 800x600 75Hz
- 32 bit ("Millions") color Virtual memory on
@ 97MB (200MB for Unreal)
- AppleTalk off
- 2MB disk cache
For the DreamWeaver test we created html page
heavily laden with a mix of graphics and text. We clocked
the time to scroll from top to bottom.
Photoshop 5.0 "Real World" Test
For the Photoshop test we used a 10MB image viewed at 800%.
The score below reflects the time to to scroll the image from
top to bottom.
Unreal TimeDemo Frames Per Second
From castle flyby in opening sequence. 800x600
resolution. In this case higher numbers are better.
| Resolutions, Colors And
Maximum Refresh Rates