Diamond Stealth II S220 Rendition V2x00by Anand Lal Shimpi on November 6, 1997 3:14 PM EST
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Rendition Verite 2100 - A chipset, the heart of Diamond's new low cost alternative to the 2D/3D Combo Card market, the Stealth II 3D.
If you walk into a store with $99 you expect to get as much as you possibly can for that $99, right? Well, in the hardware world it may seem as though $99 won't carry you far...Diamond is here to disprove that belief, armed with Rendition's new Verite 2100 chipset and killer performance Diamond's Stealth II 3D offers the most bang for your buck. The question is, how much of a bang does $99 pay for?
|Chipset:||Rendition Verite V2100|
|RAM:||4MB 100MHz SGRAM|
|Horizontal Sync Signals:||31.5KHz - 91KHz|
|Vertical Refresh:||43.5Hz - 120Hz|
|Video Playback:||MPEG-1, Indeo, & Cinepak Supported|
|Supported Resolutions:||640 x 480 - 1600 x 1200|
|Supported Refresh Rates:||56 - 120 Hz|
|It seems like half of the money spent on making the Stealth II 3D went to the packaging, classic of most Diamond Video Cards, the Stealth II is sold in a retail box about 4 times the size of the actual card, leaving much "breathing room" (who knows what all that space is for). Inside the box you'll find the standard "exciting game sampler CD-ROM" which is nothing more than 6 or 7 shareware demos designed to make you think that you're getting much more than what you paid for, a fairly standard marketing tactic that unfortunately just leads to a desk cluttered with cheap shareware CD's. In addition to that CD is a compact tri-fold CD package containing the Stealth II Driver CD and Diamond's classic 1-2-3 setup and troubleshooting guide. Although installing a video card is a very simple task many manufacturers decide to include bulky and intimidating user manuals that often get put away beneath tons of junk, Diamond, not being one of them, included a brief reference card as the "installation manual" for the Stealth II. A few diagrams would have been nice, but the quick installation guide packaged with the Stealth II will have to suffice, consider the card a 300 word document which basically says: "pick a slot, and stick the card in it."|
The first test system the Stealth II was used on was an AOpen AX6L Pentium II - 300 system, upon the first reboot after installing the card and its drivers (without removing the previous Millennium II drivers) the system began to load the Windows 95 desktop immediately after which it switched the monitor into suspend mode. A quick restart into safe mode confirmed that the problem wasn't because of a bad card, rather a refresh rate problem, setting the refresh rate in the Display control panel to Adapter Default instead of Optimum corrected the anomaly and allowed the system to boot properly.
Diamond's InControl Tools 95 desktop utility was installed by default, a nice little utility that allows the user to have easy access to the Start Menu regardless of the position of the mouse pointer. A quick left click of the mouse button on an open space of the desktop will activate the Start Menu at that very position, making access to all of your programs even easier than before. InControl also enables the option of switching resolutions/color depths on the fly, a useful feature if you have several users (all with their own special viewing needs) using the same workstation. Uninstalling the Stealth II is even easier than installing the card, just un-install the drivers and remove the card, no hidden registry keys, no possibilities of future hardware conflicts. Thank you Diamond.
|Is that all you get with the Stealth II? A nifty desktop utility and some shareware games on a CD? Absolutely not! Based on Rendition's Verite V2100 chipset, the Stealth II offers excellent OpenGL and Direct3D acceleration for the price of a small printer. While the 2D performance of the Stealth II isn't superb, the 3D performance almost completely makes up for it. I have to admit, that originally the Stealth II appeared to be a horrid card due to the problems with the installation and the refresh rate settings, however the S220 and the Rendition V2100 chipset really have to "grow" on you. If you don't mind dealing with a few headaches from the get-go, the Diamond Stealth II can really impress you. The 170MHz RAMDAC isn't too appealing to high end users, but you must remember that the Stealth II isn't targeted at the high end market. If you are looking for a powerful Pentium II system you are better off getting a Diamond Viper or FireGL card which will be better suited for your system, however if you are playing to the tune of a Socket-7 processor take a look at what the Stealth II can offer you for much less than either of those two cards.|
Is Quake 2 your game? Using the Beta GL drivers for the Verite chipset you can experience what some have called "Better than Voodoo" graphics in Quake 2, however at the time the tests were run on the Stealth II a Verite 1000 renderer was used which didn't produce the high quality effects the BetaGL drivers managed to achieve such as colored lighting, etc... In any case, the Stealth II is a near-perfect match for any average desktop system looking for a cheap upgrade to fast 3D acceleration. Since the Stealth II is a 2D/3D combo card many users may be hesitant to upgrade to one if they are attached to their current 2D cards, in that case cough up the extra $50 and purchase a 3Dfx Voodoo based Monster 3D which will offer the same quality/performance of the Stealth II without the added 2D support...it all depends on your needs. Direct3D games played quite smoothly on the Stealth II, JediKnight was playable on even the Cyrix 6x86MX test system although the player's screen did show signs of a sub 30fps frame rate at higher resolutions.
Since the Stealth II is aimed at the low end desktop market don't expect your high end 3D rendering programs to simply fly on the card, while they will benefit from the advanced 3D features of the Rendition Verite if you are looking for a high end 3D card for a purpose other than gaming give the Creative Labs Graphics Blaster EXXTREME a strong consideration.