Even with the recent controversy over 3Dfx Interactive on if
they'll stay alive after the STB merger, the point remains valid
that they still make the best-dedicated 3D accelerator boards on
the market. We all remember a year or two ago when the Voodoo Rush
was around, and we all know it was a flop. Major compatibility
issues, and most of all, slow slow slow.. It was like having a
rendition product in your PC, but worse (eek). 3Dfx then unveiled
its Voodoo2 line of boards that continually blow anything away
even a year later. After the major (and continuing) success of
Voodoo2, 3Dfx took the next leap into low to mid-priced systems
with the Voodoo Banshee. The Banshee was pretty much a Voodoo2
with out some of the core components, and instead added a 2D
processor, that allowed the Voodoo Banshee to be the same in
theory as the Rush -- an all-in-one 2D/3D combo board. For a large
part of their theory, they won. For a few minor points, they
lost... Keep reading...
ELSA produced the Victory II product, based on a reference
Voodoo Banshee board. Like all Voodoo Banshees, it came with 16MB
of SGRAM in an AGP (no PCI) configuration sporting a 128-bit 2D
engine with a nice 250-MHz RAMDAC. The only difference between
this board and the rest of the Banshees is the price, no TV-out
feature, and driver support.
It's probably important to get some facts out about why the
Banshee differs from all other 3Dfx products. Other than being a
2D/3D combo, the Banshee sports something that is odd in regards
to their drivers. You have the choice of installing reference
drivers from 3Dfx (which are very rarely updated), or you can use
the manufacturers drivers. In this case, ELSA is a top performer
when it comes to driver releases. They simply take 3Dfx reference
drivers that they (not the public) get and then pop them on their
website. At the time of writing this review, their drivers aren't
even 2 weeks old. If you downloaded drivers from a more 'popular'
vendor like Creative or Diamond, they will return an error when
installing saying that the board isn't one of theirs, and
therefore they can't install the drivers. This makes a very very
important sales point when buying a Banshee. Get one from a
company who frequently updates their drivers, or you're screwed.
In this case, ELSA is a good buying choice. They even have the
latest flash BIOS updates on their website.
Early reference versions of the Banshee did not have TV out on
their design. We're starting to see this incorporated into some of
the more expensive or feature-filled Banshee boards (Vengence by
Metabyte for example). The ELSA Victory II does not support or
have TV out -- not a plus, not a minus, just a fact. TV out
generally adds $25 to the cost of any video card, so if you need
TV out (which a majority of readers don't give a whoop-dee about),
this isn't the card for you.