New Technology, New Speed
Fire GL 1000 Pro,
Stealth II S220,
This year, Diamond offers another outstanding crop of graphics cards targeted for a range of market segments. All of the cards offer corporate buyers consistently strong 2-D and 3-D performance, mature setup and configuration utilities, and a consistent look and feel that simplifies end-user support. Consumers seeking best-of-class performance for game play or software development--or simply highly functional, value-laden graphics cards--will also find the Diamond line worthy of attention.
All three boards ship with CD-ROM-based installations, and configuration wizards are included with the Stealth II and the Viper. Each card also ships with Diamond's sophisticated In Control Tools graphics utilities; the Stealth II and Viper offer the most extensive feature set, including color correction, on-the-fly refresh rate, color-depth and resolution adjustment, hotkey support, and configurable menus available with a right-mouse click.
Stealth S220: A Bargain, and worth itThe Stealth II S220 is targeted at the budget-minded set, and adequate 2-D and strong 3-D performance make it a good bet for general corporate users and for thrifty consumers considering a graphics upgrade. The S220 cannot support high-resolution modes at higher color depths (the highest true-color resolution is 75-Hz at 1,024-by-768). The card's capabilities should be fine for mainstream home and corporate desktops, but are not suitable for big-screen graphics or video-related applications.
Unlike the other two Diamond cards, the S220 is Windows 95-only, with no Windows NT drivers available. The S220 does, however, support both of the Rendition 3-D APIs, plus Redline and Speedy, for maximum compatibility with all games that have Rendition-specific drivers as well as Microsoft Direct 3D. Diamond also includes a CD-ROM sampler containing six 3-D games.
On our 2-D Graphics WinMark tests, the Stealth's performance lagged behind that of its competitors. Scores on our Business Winstone tests were generally better--within 5 percent of the category leaders, and indicative of ample capability for most business applications. Performance in 3-D was much better: The Stealth was one of the fastest 3-D cards we tested. Video playback quality was not as good as some of the other boards, however; the Stealth offers x and y video interpolation during scaling, but no filtering.
V330: Unsurpassed 3-D SpeedDiamond's Viper V330 offers extraordinary 3-D performance--the best in this roundup--plus outstanding video playback quality, solid 2-D performance, and an eclectic software bundle that will appeal to gamers and corporate users alike. The board includes composite and S-Video-out connectors for television display, and connectors for Diamond's DTV 2000 TV-tuner and video-capture add-in cards, which should be available in early 1998. With the V330, Diamond supplies drivers for Windows 95 and NT, and bundles four CD-ROM games, MGI's PhotoSuite, Asymetrix Web 3D, Vream's VRCreator, and Mediamatics' MPEG-1 software.
The V330 offers greater resolution options than the S220, and is more suitable for big-screen displays. With three-tap filtering and on-board color-space conversion, MPEG-1 and AVI video playback appears smooth and alias-free at all resolutions.
On our 2-D tests, the V330 produced average WinMark scores in both its PCI and AGP configurations. Here again, Winstone scores (indicative of true application performance) were very close to the category leaders. The V330's 3-D scores, however, were extraordinary. The card should more than satisfy fast-twitch gamers now, and be ready to tackle 3-D business applications as they come along.
GL 1000 Pro: Power-user prowessFor graphics and 3-D developers, Diamond's Fire GL 1000 Pro provides excellent high-end 2-D functionality in both PCI and AGP models, rock-solid refresh rates at extremely high resolutions, and a useful software bundle with several valuable 3-D development tools.
The GL 1000 Pro offers a port for a StereoGraphics-compatible connector for external 3-D-shutter glasses, allowing developers to see 3-D views in 3-D creation programs that support StereoGraphics, or to let gamers play titles that support StereoGraphics. The developer-oriented software bundle includes Caligari's TrueSpace 3 SE, Crystal Graphics' 3D Impact!, and Cosmo Software's Cosmo Player 2.0 (a VRML 2.0 browser).
In addition to Windows 95 and NT support, Diamond also provides drivers for OpenGL and Autodesk Heidi. Unfortunately, the GL 1000 Pro provides only basic controls for color depth, resolution, and refresh rate, with no color calibration--a valuable feature for the development applications towards which the card is targeted.
The GL 1000 Pro performed extremely well on most 2-D benchmark tests, capped by a second-place finish for its 1,024-by-768 16-bit Winstone score among PCI and AGP boards. The card also placed well in Windows NT Winstone testing, though all the boards were tightly grouped. The GL 1000 Pro was an average performer on the 3-D benchmark tests, with only minor quality irregularities.
Generally, the GL 1000 Pro's rock-solid, high-resolution capabilities and strong 2-D performance make it ideal for graphics and video editing. While 3-D performance is only average, the board's strong driver set and bundled programs should make it attractive to 3-D developers as well.
Diamond's Viper V330 is an ideal game board with outstanding 3-D performance and excellent video quality. With a competent set of Windows graphics control utilities and more-than-adequate 2-D performance, the V330 is suitable for most business and home users.
Finally, anyone on a budget will like the Stealth II S220's strong performance, as well as its wizard-assisted installation and bargain-basement price.
From the December 2, 1997 issue of PC Magazine
Copyright (c) 1997 Ziff-Davis Inc.