Originally Published: Monday, 11 October 1999 Author: Kristopher Kersey
Published to: enhance_articles_hardware/Hardware Reviews Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Diamond Monster Fusion Packs a Nice Bang for the Buck

This is an amazing card for the money. With an average of 19.1 frames per second under Quake 3 Arena at 1024x768, who can complain.

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The Diamond Monster Fusion and other cards based on 3Dfx's Banshee chipset are becoming inexpensive 3D graphics solutions with a starting price ranging from $50 to $60 on the online sales market. Don't let this small price tag fool you though; Banshee-based cards are the most under-rated 3D cards you'll find, sporting the highest benchmarks I've seen in the sub-$100 price range. The numbers that follow will make this clear.

Installation To start off, the installation of this card is not necessarily the easiest you'll find. From the beginning, the installation of this card is in no way painless, especially if you want to get anything but a simple X-server going. To get OpenGL support to work, if starting from the ground up, takes a good bit of time and can be very frustrating. After much research and searching I found that the following pages should get you up and running in the least amount of time possible:
3DfxRPMS_vb_glibc - This is the starting point for the Banshee installation. This page contains the X-server, libraries, and beginning instructions on how to get this going.
3Dfx and Mesa Howto - If you are having problems with the installation then turn to this site. It has a nice tutorial that should help you get through it a little easier. This is also the place for a more comprehensive Mesa installation guide.
Quake2 & Q3Test with 3Dfx and LINUX - Finally, if you have made it this far and have gotten everything functioning, then this site will provide the information to get Quake 2 and Quake 3 Arena working. This page has those little details that ID (the makers of Quake) left out of the readme.
Installation Score: 3/10
It's a real challenge in the beginning if you have to find those links on your own. If there would have been a more concise resource this score would have been higher.


Performance This is where this card gets some of its high marks from. Normally if you can get an average frame per second above 20 at 1024x768 in a game such as Quake 3 Arena then that card is worth the time and effort it takes to set it up. This card almost achieved that at 19.1 FPS with the Quake 3 default settings (running "timedemo 1" followed by "demo q3demo1.dm3" under the console will allow you to check your own results). The only slowdown that was apparent was when the activity got real heavy. This means for optimal play, 800x600 would do nicely if you don't mind sacrificing the visual quality for speed.
Performance Score: 6/10 There are some faster cards on the market now so this score suffered some because of it.

Value So what can you say about a card that can be bought for around $60 and still can push out 19.1 FPS at 1024x768? Buy it if you don't have something better yet. This is one card that anyone should be able to afford. It's my current best pick for price and performance.
Value Score: Perfect 10

Overall Overall if you don't have anything faster and you've been looking for a low-cost upgrade, buy this card (or any other card with the Banshee chipset for that matter). It's a good solid card at a low price. It may not be top of the line, but if you're on a budget it can't be beat.
Overall Score: 7

Test System: Processor: Pentium III 450 Motherboard: Abit BH6 RAM: 192 MB PC100 SDRAM OS: SuSE Linux 6.1




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