Skywell MAGIC 3D II Plus 12MB Accelerator

Skywell MAGIC 3D II Plus
12MB Accelerator

Reviewed by Matthew Fam / Jackie Lee (11 June 98)

Video Card Specifications

Card Dimension 8"(length) x 4"(width)
Model MAGIC 3D II Plus Voodo2
Interface PCI 2.0/2.1 Compliant
Memory Configuration 12MB EDO DRAM (256K x 24)
Supported API 3Dfx Glide,DIRECT X 3D,Open GL
3D Features: Perspective Correct Texture mapping
Bi-Linear and advanced texture filtering
MIP Mapping(LOD)
Anti-AliasingHardware Triangle Setup engine
Fog table Linear/Exponential
Standard Features: PCI 2.0/2.1 Compliant
4MB Frame buffer,8MB Texture memory
Support SLI (Scan-Line Interleave)
Package Includes MAGIC 3D II card
Full Version 'World Cup 98' CD-ROM
SLI/VGA Cables
User Guide
Driver diskette
Manufactured Made In TAIWAN

Back to top


Introduction

This Voodoo 2 based card is consider one of the most affordable V2 based cards around Singapore.Guess it's made famous by it's predecessor, the Skywell 'MAGIC 3D' which at one time was so much sought after with it's relatively low price of about 30% over brands like DIAMOND and ORCHID.  So, what install about this new product?

The box is of a rather more economic packed, the cover is especially unimpressive.   Opening up the box, we have to pull out yet another box, and finally.......

Let's take a look at what's inside.  Once you open the cover, you can see the card in a anti-static pack together with the One and only game,'World Cup 98' on the top layer.   The card itself is quite well design using black PCB board.  With 24 Silicon Magic 256k memory of 100MHz 25ns EDO DRAM code as F9808 SM81C256K16CJ-25 on both side.  This board is a serious 12MB contender for challenging the award for the fastest Voodoo2 card around.  At the back side of the PCB, you can see a big sticker stating 1 year warranty plus the serial number 802277 and also the revision of the board @ ver.A

On the inner layer of the box, you can obtain the user manual and the accompanied SLI/VGA cables.  A driver diskette is also provided.

Installation

Installing the MAGIC 3D is of a harder task than others Voodoo2 based cards.  The user manual did not inform you of the need to create a new directory in your HDD and copy the files in the disk to the directory, it's merely written on the disk label.  You have to manually install the driver.  Installation after this step is much simplier.   Once everything is done.  Try and restart once before advancing.

The Glide driver are automatically installed into the system with the driver.  The manual provide instruction for Win95/98 and NT 4.0 instructions.  Plus simple troubleshooting guide and the supported resolutions on the card.  There's also listing of Skwell's website for downloading latest drivers which are all included in the manual.

Front view of the card

Front View

Back view of the card

Back View

The Good

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.

Running it on a Pentium 200MHz processor makes it jumped about 10-50% over the Diamond Viper card.  The overall picture quality improves by about 10% over the RIVA card.  Plus fast frame rates running the 12MB board.  Skywell did not try to use lesser timing memory to cut cost on the card.   Using the very high quality 25 pieces of Silicon Magic 100MHz 25ns EDO DRAM.

Testing it through games like G-Police, BattleZone to even the World Cup 98 yean really fascinating performance even on a slower system.  Next we move onto the AMD K6 300 processor tests running WinBench 98 and 3D Winbench.

In reality, the Voodoo 2 card is currently the most powerful card in the consumer 3D arena.  Heating problem is not too much of a problem but it's always advisable to leave a slot gap between others PCI periperhals. Hitting a 3D WinMark of 241 on a Pentium 200MHz system.  It shows it's impressive power.

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.

 

The Bad

Unlike it's predecessor, the MAGIC 3D.   Which offer faster timing EDO DRAM to speed up the performance.  This card not much difference from any others reference design based cards.  The memory used is of the same variant.  The act of cost saving on the production can be clearly seen, with the cheaper looking box cover, 1 game bundled only and of couse, Skywell do not even bothered to redesign another box design to differential between the 8MB MAGIC 3D II and the 12MB MAGIC 3D II Plus.  Both shares the same box cover (12MB version have a small photocopied note saying 12MB + game) and the simple user manual and the installation drivers are on a diskette rather than on a CD.  While others brands like STB offer much better box design with interesting combination of colours and quality paper used on the cover.  The MAGIC 3D II is nothing compared.

For about S$20-40 more.  You might well consider the Monster 3D II, Righteous II which offer much better driver support plus more games bundled.  Another bad point is the installation procedure which are more troublesome than others Auto-Run CD-ROM installation program by US manufacturers.

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.

 

Benchmark Results

Skywell MAGIC 3D II Plus 12MB Accelerator

Benchmarking Softwares Voodoo 2 + Riva 128
Final Reality V1.01 2.65
Wintune97 Video Test / Mps 133
Wintune98 Online Video Test / Mps 63.68
Quake 2 Timedemo1 / fps 39.0
Quake 2 Timedemo2 / fps 35.9
3D Winbench Process 12.3
3D Winbench WinMark 567

Done @ 640 x 480 with OpenGL for Quake II V3.15 tests and @ 1024 x 768 for the rest of the other tests.

 

Test System Configuration

Processor(s) AMD K6 266 Mhz .25 micron Chip
Overlocked Configuration 300 Mhz (4.0 x 75.0 Mhz)
Ram 64 MB Mitsubishi SDRAMS Dimms
Motherboard AOpen AP5T Ver 3.4 V1.70j
HardDrive(s) Quantum 3.2GB ST
Operating System MS Windows 98 Build 4.10.1998
DirectX Version MS DirectX Version 6 Beta
Other software used 3Dfx OpenGL Beta 2
Video Card(s) Canopus Total3D 128V PCI

Magic 3D II Plus 12 MB

Video Card Bios V 1.54B NTSC (Canopus)
Video Card Drivers V 1.20.08 (Canopus)

FxMemMap VxD Version: 4.10.01.0015

WinGlide 2.x Driver Version: 2.51

DosGlide 2.x Driver Version: 2.51

Direct3D Driver Version: 4.10.01.0094-2.16

Direct3D 32-bit DLL Version: 4.10.01.0094-2.16

Direct3D 16-bit DLL Version: 4.10.01.0094-2.16

 

Screenshots of Quake II and Final Fantasy VII under Voodoo 2

Click on the Thumbnails to enlarge

Quake II

Click for enlarged version    Click for enlarged version    Click for enlarged version    Click for enlarged version    Click for enlarged version

Final Fantasy VII

Click for enlarged version   Click for enlarged version   Click for enlarged version   Click for enlarged version   Click for enlarged version

Display Properties

Click for enlarged version

 

Conclusion

Overall,if you are looking for a good buy with a thought for your pocket, this will be a great candidate.  The overall 3D WinMark scores are no more than 5% difference from others reference card based Voodoo2.   Maybe those current MAGIC 3D users might want to consider this.

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.  Unless you are very particular about the bundled items, box package and support quality.  It's sure is a good choice.

For any enquiry or comment , email to : edge3d@singnet.com.sg / jackie1@singa.pore.net

MAGIC 3D II Plus RATING

Overall Drive Rating (Out of Maximum 5 Star)

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

Back to top

Back to Video Cards Review


Specifications
Specified Memory size: 12MB 25ns EDO DRAM
Specified Manufacturer: SKYWELL (Taiwan)
Skywell MAGIC 3D II Plus
Estimated Price: S$ 429

This Product is provided courtesy of,

Copyright 1998 by Singapore Hardware Zone. All rights reserved.

None of the above shall be reproduced, copied and/or
modified without the permission of the WebMaster.