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**Updated 2/7/98** 
 
 
STB VELOCITY 128 REVIEW (PCI)
 
 
 
Manufacturer: STB inc.
Chipset: nVidia RIVA 128
RAM: 4mg 100mhz SGRAM
RAMDAC: 230mhz
Price:  129$ OEM
Vendor: Grumpmicro
 
 

PROS: 

Outstanding 2D acceleration , excellent 3D acceleration, Good price , fastest Direct3D ,scales with CPU , great bang for buck. 
 

CONS: 

Image Quality problems. Supports only 4 megabytes of video RAM , scales with CPU , poor OpenGL support. 
 
 

RATING: 

9/10 

IMAGE QUALITY:  

 

(note ,JPG compression somewhat degrades image)

      STB's Velocity 128 is the ultimate Direct3D powerhouse. Based on the RIVA chipset from nVidia , this baby is packed with 4 megabytes of high-speed (100mhz) 128bit ported SGRAM and a 230mhz RAMDAC capable of 1600x1200 resolution. The Velocity 128 is the definition of power. The 100mhz SGRAM in the Velocity is capable of bandwidth in excess of 1.6gig/sec! over 2x as much as the standard 64bit ported 100mhz SGRAM. This high bandwidth is one of the many reasons the Velocity 128 is capable of outperforming the competition in standard 2D , DirectDraw , and of course , Direct3D. Overall , the Velocity 128 is a very impressive card. It combines 2D speed rivaling that of the Millennium II , the fastest Direct3D acceleration I have seen , and enough heat to hard boil an egg in two minutes! Perhaps the fact that the RIVA chipset has more transistors than a Pentium Classic may attribute to this interesting "phenomenon". Exactly how fast is this Velocity 128 in Direct3D? Well , to put it simply , very. On a slow poor gaming system (6x86pr200 no MMX) , the Velocity managed to spew forth 19.6 800x600x16bit Direct3D accelerated frames in a second in the Turok demo! Considering the RIVA chipest scales with CPU power , this number is quite impressive. In Jedi Knight Demo , the Velocity 128 3D runs at an average of 28-30fps at 800x600 resolution , nothing short of blazing fast! The 2D performance of this card is simply mind boggling as well. (see Benchmark Page). 
      The Velocity 128 , though blazing fast in both 2D and 3D , leaves quite a lot to be desired. First of all , the image quality of the Velocity 128 is not up to par with some of its competitors , such as the Monster 3D , or Thriller 3D. It lacks proper anti-alaising and displays a pretty serious problem when moving around in the levels of the Jedi Knight Demo. (It is possible to see the MIP mapping take effect  , i.e. the textures are changing as the player  moves around.) Before this week (2/7) , the RIVA cards OpenGL drivers were in Alpha stage. However , this has now changed. The new Beta drivers yield a significant advantage over the previous alpha versions. The frame-rate increase on my low-end system was 1.5 (7.6-9.1) , using 5mb of system memory for texture storage. This number could have easily been increased by using more memory. (probably increased to around 10.5-11 , ill try it sometime today or tomorrow) While 1.5fps may seem like it isn't that much , it was achieved using conservative texture RAM usage , and it is still a 20% increase , which isn't a little at all. Even though speed was improved , image quality wasn't really changed. The darkness problem still exists , however , the documentation explains some ugly ways of fixing this. (Changing some registry values). You can still use the lines of code Alf sent me a while ago:

set intensity "2" 
set gl_ext_gamma "3" 
set gl_modulate "2" 
set video_gamma ".7" 

The guys at nVidia have really done a great job with these new drivers. We can expect even better performance in OpenGL in the future,  when real , non-beta drivers are released. Another not so serious problem with the Velocity 128 is the "slow boot" problem. This can be fixed by removing Vision98 (which I recommend :) and disabling the 'Automatically detect PnP Monitor' option. All in all , the Velocity 128 is an excellent board , and at 129$ it ranks as one of the best bang for buck deals available. With the 2D of the millennium II , improved OpenGL support , and Direct3D acceleration which is second to none , the Velocity 128 is an excellent card , at an excellent price. 

--Rage 

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