VP-2M-PCI & VP-4M-PCI
Review

On February 6, 1998, in Review, by Adam Karneboge

VP-2M-PCI & VP-4M-PCI
Company: Micro Conversions, Inc.
Estimated Price: $149.99/$199.99
http://www.microconversions.com

 

I consider the purchase of a graphics card to be a significant investment in my computer, so it was something that I was not about to take lightly. I searched many months for the best price-to-performance value, and I believe that I found it in the VP-2M-PCI and VP-4M-PCI graphics cards from Micro Conversions.

Made to Fit
Since my computer is a 6400, I knew that I had two 6.88 inch PCI slots. My computer did not have the standard 12 inch slots, so I knew I needed to find a card that would fit in my computer.

The VP-2M-PCI and VP-4M-PCI are 6.7 inches in length, so they fit fine in any Macintosh computer with a PCI slot. The VP-2M-PCI has 2MB of video RAM, while the VP-4M-PCI sports 4MB of video RAM. More video RAM means higher bit depths (colors) at higher resolutions.

The VP-2M-PCI supports 24-bit color at resolutions up to 832×624, 16-bit color at resolutions up to 1152×870, and 8-bit color at resolutions up to 1280×1024. The VP-4M-PCI supports 24-bit color at resolutions up to 1152×870, and 16 and 8-bit color at resolutions up to 1280×1024, assuming that your monitor can support those resolutions.

The VP-2M-PCI and VP-4M-PCI feature 64-bit graphics acceleration that performs QuickDraw operations up to 800% faster than a traditional graphics card. Let me tell you, the difference in Photoshop, Color It, and even QuickTime movies is astounding. They also have “full monitor sensing,” and “no monitor connected sensing” which includes the latest monitor sensing scheme from Apple built into the hardware, and prevents not having a monitor connected to the card from becoming a problem when you start your Mac.

Installation
Installation of the VP-2M-PCI was very simple, requiring only a small screwdriver. Once my motherboard was exposed, I simply unscrewed the plate covering my top PCI slot, snapped the card into the slot, and screwed the card’s cover plate in. The user’s guide that comes with the VP-2M-PCI and VP-4M-PCI is extremely detailed and well-written, unlike most graphics cards’ user’s manuals.

Note: The exact procedure for opening your Macintosh depends upon the computer you have. The user’s guide that came with your Mac provides specific instructions on how to install a PCI card. Never install a PCI card if you are unsure of how to do it, as you could damage one or more components on the card and/or motherboard.

Software Setup
One of my biggest concerns when I was searching for cards was whether or not the software side of the installation was going to be simple, and if the software would be compatible with Mac OS 8.x. Well, the software that comes with the VP-2M-PCI and VP-4M-PCI, called “Display Goodies”, is both easy to install and very compatible. I haven’t had one conflict with the operating system or any of my programs.

There is only one extension and one control panel to install. The extension allows for graphics and video acceleration, while the control panel allows you to set preferences and options for graphics and video acceleration, as well as adjust your horizontal and vertical centering, set key combinations for zooming, and much more.

Video-Out and Expandability
The VP-2M-PCI and VP-4M-PCI provide video-out in NTSC and PAL through a S-Video connector on the PCI card. This allows you to send video out to a TV or VCR. You can set resolutions and other options to provide the best quality when using video-out. This is definitely an added bonus that can become very useful.

The VP-2M-PCI can be expanded to 4MB of video RAM, and both the VP-2M-PCI and VP-4M-PCI can be upgraded to the Video Wizard, which gives you everything the VP-2M-PCI and VP-4M-PCI have plus Video In and a TV tuner.

Requirements/Pricing
The VP-2M-PCI and VP-4M-PCI require any Macintosh or compatible with an available PCI slot, a multisync monitor, QuickTime 2.5 (for video-out), and Mac OS 7.5.5 or above. Both are fully compatible with Mac OS 8.x. The VP-2M-PCI sells for $149.99, while the VP-4M-PCI sells for $199.99 – both incredibly low prices.

The Summary
The VP-2M-PCI and VP-4M-PCI from Micro Conversions, Inc. are superior graphics cards. They both offer several features not standard on comparably-priced cards and deliver the best price-to-performance ratio available today. You simply cannot find a 2MB graphics card for under $150 with the features of the VP-2M-PCI. And the addition of video-out capabilities and upgradability to the Video Wizard model makes this a common-sense purchase for me. The VP-2M-PCI gave me exactly what I was looking for – and then some.

MacMice Rating: 4
4


Adam Karneboge (webmaster@mymac.com)


Websites mentioned:
http://www.microconversions.com

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