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Reviewed by: Bryan Pizzutti [11.12.01]
Manufactured by: Hercules
MSRP: $119.99


FSAA Performance

Full Screen Anti-Aliasing.....the video industry's latest buzz-word. It basically translates to "smoothing out the jaggies." A lot of people simply play at a higher resolution to make a game look better, but FSAA does have it's place. I discovered it while I was playing Jagged Alliance 2 on a 20 inch monitor. Since the game only renders in 640x480, it looks incredibly blocky and jagged on a big screen. So FSAA can be used to smooth out some of those games that you still like to play, but were designed with a max of 800x600 or so on the resolution. Since Unreal Tournament is old enough to fit that profile (though it does allow higher resolutions) I once again used the Thunder demo to check FSAA performance.

Well, it seems the GeForce2MX once again reigns as king where 16 bit color is concerned. But try to go to 32 bit color depth, and it runs out of memory bandwidth real fast, while the Kyro2 keeps chugging along at the same speed. Note in most of the marks I've shown, there is little to no difference between the Kyro2's 16-bit and 32-bit performance. This is most likely NOT due to the tile architecture, but to the Kyro's internal 32-bit rendering.

As for visual quality, I DID notice that the MX's FSAA was a bit more seems to jump right out at you, and makes a big improvement in visual quality. The Kyro also has noticeable FSAA but in a bad also FSAA'd the menu screen....the fuzzy fonts started making my head hurt. This may be either a good or bad thing, since we know that the Kyro's FSAA isn't limited to 3D (I noticed no 2D Anti-aliasing at all on the MX) means things like 2D strategy games can be improved. But the fuzzy fonts can hurt your eyes after a while. The MX used to FSAA everything including text, when forced through the driver settings (That's how I found out about improving Jagged Alliance 2) but they seem to have "fixed" that in the new Detonators....the only anti-aliasing I noticed on the MX was in 3D. Whichever method is better is strictly a matter of opinion...what would be best would probably be an option in the drivers to force FSAA globally, only for 3D objects, or not at all. The Kyro's 3D FSAA DID look good, but I'd have to say the MX was a hair better, but who cares if it's unplayably slow in most cases?

FSAA is best left to the big boys.

I also observed both cards while playing a variety of games, and they both looked very good. The Kyro2's internal 32-bit rendering gives it an edge in 16 bit color as far as visual quality, but both look great. DVDs play well on both, and both are available with TV-out (Though the Kyro's TV-out is most likely not as advanced at NVIDIA's TwinView architecture or ATI's Hydravision...I was unable to obtain a TV-out version of the Prophet to test though). On the whole, I would say that the Kyro2-based card is of equal and possibly greater performance than the is MUCH more well suited to higher resolutions and playing in 32-bit color, while the MX shows a great amount of power in the lower resolutions.

Either card is a worthy purchase. However, no matter how many polygons games may have added to them in the future, the 3D Prophet 4500 will only render what is visible, which gives it a huge advantage over the MX-based cards, which must render everything in the scene (Hidden-surface removal is being worked on by NVIDIA, but it's being implemented by software in the drivers, rather than hardware). I will say that, even if STMicro and PowerVR somehow go belly-up, they've already proven a point...brute-force is not necessarily the way to go when it comes to 3D rendering. They've proven that an elegant solution can work just as well, and for a lower cost. All the card needs is a hardware transform and lighting unit, and it's ready to take on the big boys such as the Radeon and GeForce2 Ultra.

  • Great colour quality at any colour depth
  • Amazing high-res performance
  • High end features like EMBM and FSAA on a low end card
  • Tile-Based architecture WORKS!
  • Excellent price/performance ratio
  • You aren't stuck playing games in 16 bit or in low resolutions

  • No hardware T&L for those with lower end CPUs
  • Little to no performance is gained by switching to 16 bit

Final Score: 95%