STB BlackMagic 3D
12MB Voodoo2

Reviewed by Matthew Fam (10 June 98)

Card's Specifications

Card Dimension 8"(length) x 4"(width)
Model BLACKMAGIC 3D BMG312
Interface PCI 2.0/2.1 Compliant
Memory Configuration 12MB EDO DRAM (256K x 24)
Supported API 1) 3Dfx Glide
2) DIRECT X 5.0 & 6.0 compliant
3) Open GL
3D Features: 1) Perspective Correct Texture mapping
2) Bi-Linear and advanced texture filtering
3) MIP Mapping(LOD)
4) Anti-Aliasing
5) Hardware Triangel Setup engine
6) Fog table Linear/Exponential
7) And more.......
Standard Features: 1) PCI 2.0/2.1 Compliant
2) 4MB Frame buffer,8MB Texture memory
3) Support SLI (Scan-Line Interleave) for 2 BlackMagic 3D card
to double frame rate and increase resolutions supported.
Package Includes 1) MAGIC 3D II card
2) Full Version 'World Cup 98' CD-ROM game title
3) SLI/VGA Cables
4) User Guide
5) Driver diskette
Manufactured Made In Mexico(packed in USA)

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Introduction

This second Voodoo 2 based card I'm reviewing here is consider as a rare gem for reviewing as the review of this card are not seen much anywhere around the glode. And it sure pack a great punch of power. Just a look at the box gives me a refreshing feeling with really nice combination of colours and high quality glossy box packing. Again proving us that it's one of the top-of-the-line product from the famous America manufacturer. STB was made famous with it's Lightspeed 128 card using the Tsenglab chip which was a real fast 2D chipset with good reviews in US.And let us take a look at what's installed in this beauitful Voodoo card.......

On the box itself, it mentioned about the 2 bundled 'BattleZone' and 'G-Police' games plus the game sampler. Turning the box over shows you the photo of the card with detailed description showing you what are the chips and connector are for which is absent on the MAGIC 3D II Plus card reviewed earlier. It also list out 27 Voodoo2 supported 3D functions and compared it to some older cards which are often seen in US based cards box to demostrate the 'extra' functions lacking. It sure is a long list and good enough to bluff those whom knows little about 3D features. But to the power users, it is just another gimmicks which is rather unfair to compared with. The box also show case the short description of SLI and supported BlackMagic 3D monitor resolutions.

Opening the the box, you can see the internal of the box coming in a double layer cardboard. Top side is the card itself placed with some protection. What's missing is the anti-static plastic bag which are a safer bet for such a high-end card. Let's hope STB will see this and add an extra plastic to it.  The bottom layer is the big package of great stuffs, including the driver CD-ROM with the sampler games.  2 full version game titles, the usual SLI/VGA cables and a US based Warranty card.  The card itself is quite well design using black PCB board.  With 24 Silicon Magic 256k memory of 100MHz 25ns EDO DRAM code as H9816 SM81C256K16CJ-25 on both side.  BlackMagic, with it's superb package and name is sure consider a best buy.   At the back side of the PCB, you can see a big sticker stating 10 year warranty plus the codes numbers the texture management chipset as D17621.00 BE and also the pixel processor as D18638.00 CK, but there does not seem to have any pcb version on the card, just a code 'TB4'.

 

Installation

Installing the BlackMagic 3D will be even easier than opening the heavily pack box.Just inside the BM3D into an available PCI slot and boot-up your computer. Upon entering Windows98, it will automatically deteched the card and using the provided CD-ROM disc, it will then be detech as BlackMagic 3D. The CD-ROM itself is based on the beautiful box cover, what's more interesting is the content. Auto-run cd-rom with nice interface and interactive buttons, online user guide, faq,support are all available for the card.

The Glide driver are automatically installed into the system with the driver. There's not much of a manual. The basic installation instructions are provided on a CD-ROM folder containing the driver disc. It's so similar with DIAMOND's products. Same disc folder, no detailed manual. Guess they are trying to save printing cost to input the manual into the driver disc. Power by the powerful DIAMOND Viper V330 PCI 4MB 2D/3D graphics card with this unbeatable Voodoo 2 combo...We are all geared for our review.

 

The Good

As it's price are pretty competitive with rapid price drop.It's a force to be reckon with.

Running using the high quality 25 pieces of Silicon Magic 100MHz 25ns EDO DRAM, this card is consider a quality card with slight speed increased compared to the MAGIC 3D II Plus. It scored about 2-3% more in Winmark 98 than the MAGIC 3D II running on a Pentium 200MHz processor and about 5-7% more on a Pentium II 266MHz processor. Showing that it's performance increase with faster processor. Once again showing how CPU bottomneck affected newer cards.

Testing it through games like G-Police, BattleZone to even the World Cup 98 yean really fascinating performance even on a slower system.Forsaken is never like before, coupled with the Monster Sound M80. I got a true gaming sensation upon me.

The World Cup 98 CD-ROM game bundled comes with a thin instruction manual. A real nice game that harness the fastest Direct 3D card power to present an interesting gaming sensation. Consider that this game is just launched, it's quite a worthy bundled.

 

Performance

With it relatively more affordable pricing over the others brands. The choice is really wide open for someone wanting the absolute power in 3D arena. The card is basically almost the same as others 3Dfx reference design based cards other than the PCB connections difference. Chipset and memory placement are identical.If you do not mind paying more cash for a ASTON MARTIN.

Through our naked eye. It's really difficult to differential between the others Voodoo 2 based cards in term of image quality. As so the screenshot are indentical to on another. As such, I'm not placing any benchmark of this card here as there's no more than 5% performance gain or lose between all the 3Dfx reference design based cards.

Screenshots of Quake II and Final Fantasy VII under Voodoo 2

Click on the Thumbnails to enlarge

Quake II

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Final Fantasy VII

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The Bad

Other than the usual Voodoo 2 sky high pricing. There seriously do not have much of a bad point for this card.  The bundled games are perhaps on the least side. No way to compared with the Diamond edition.   Another major point is the lacked of full detailed instruction and installation manual. The US manufacturers seem to preferred to save the paper and printing cost, therefore it looks good on the outside but a little not on the inside.  In it's current pricing. You might want to consider holding on your bucks for a price dropped (if any) or wait for the 8MB version.

Test Bed - Hardware
Motherboard ABIT LX6 (440LX)
Processor INTEL Pentium II 300MHz,
Memory 64MB 10ns DRAM
Boot Drive IBM Deskstar 5 4.3GB - For ATA Test
Primary Video Card DIAMOND Viper V330 AGP 4MB

Conclusion

I would personally recommend this card over the MAGIC 3D II Plus reviewed earlier.  Although this is the first Voodoo based card from STB, it carries the company usual quality and the support of a wonderful 10 years warranty.

Quality wise, it's no difference from the the others brands in term of card quality and memory.  Same PCB and chipset plus the memory all are similar to the US brands.

For any enquiry or comment, email to : edge3d@singnet.com.sg


BLACKMAGIC 3D RATING

Overall Card Rating (Out of Maximum 5 Star)

Installation *****
Performance *****
Price ***
Games Compatiable Test *****
3D Features List ****
Material Quality (Card) ****1/2
Material Quality (Others items) ****
Overall Rating ****

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Specifications
Specified Memory size: 12MB 25ns EDO DRAM
Specified Warranty Period: 10 years limited
STB BlackMagic 3D
Estimated Price: S$ 449

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