ELSA Victory II AGP Banshee

by Ga'ash Soffer on January 18, 1999 12:43 PM EST


The Elsa Victory II board is based on 3Dfx's first true 2D/3D single chip solution, the Voodoo Banshee. The Banshee is, in essence, a bastardization of the Voodoo2 chipset, boasting a higher (100Mhz vs 90Mhz) clock speed, unified memory architecture, Glide support, no single pass multitexturing, and of course, blazing fast 2D (as if we need faster 2D). The Elsa board adds high-performance 16MB SGRAM to the picture.

The Board, Installation, Manual, Drivers, and Game Bundle

After emptying the oversized Elsa Victory II box (how come video card boxes have to be so big?), I took a look at the Elsa Victory II board. As with 12MB Voodoo2 boards, the Elsa Victory II had memory chips on the back side of the board (4 out of the 8 2MB SGRAM pieces, manufactured by SEC, Korea). Unlike the Voodoo2 board, it is a normal sized board, with only 1 rendering processor equipped with a fairly large heatsink.

The installation of the Elsa Victory II went well. There were no quirks which I encountered, and the documentation described in painful detail the installation methods. One strange thing which I noticed was that Elsa prints the same installation guide for both the Victory II and the Erazor II, meaning you get the same book, regardless of what product you buy. Whether or not this makes a difference is debatable, but what I would have liked is that the English version of both the manual and the installation guide is buried somewhere in the middle (actually, at the end). However, it is expected that the German version (Elsa is a German card manufacturer) of the manual will be first up. Other than that, the manual is excellent. I particularly liked the fact that Elsa took the time to include a pretty informative section in their manual titled "All About Graphics" This portion of the manual talks about, in order:

The 3D Pipeline
-Object Data, Tessellation, Geometrical Transformation, Rendering, Display

3D interfaces
-Direct3D, Immediate mode and Retained mode

Color Palettes
-Direct Color


setting.jpg (24266 bytes)

The drivers are relatively plain, offering a few options such as force trilinear filtering, Vsync-off, limit Glide programs to 2 MB texture memory, etc. (Once you click on the Options... button) While I would prefer more tweaking options, such as an overclocking utility, the Elsa Victory II drivers offer enough settings for most users, without confusing them by adding a million settings which end up never being used. All in all, the Victory II drivers aren't amazingly feature packed, but they get the job done. There were no performance quirks with these drivers, as long as Vsync was disabled.

The deal with the actual Banshee's drivers is a different story. First of all, the ICD is still beta from 3Dfx, and not released with this product. (If you want to play Quake2 games, I recommend downloading the MiniGL 1.46 drivers from 3Dfx's web site) With the Voodoo2, the need for an OpenGL ICD was not as great because the Voodoo2 could not render in a window. Since most apps which require an OpenGL ICD are professional design applications (such as 3D Studio MAX, even though that particular example supports D3D rendering as well) use window rendering, the Voodoo2 could not be of much use anyway. Also, the Voodoo2 and the Banshee are both gaming cards. Nowadays, with games such as Quake 3 Arena (which requires an OpenGL ICD) in the future, an OpenGL ICD for both the Voodoo2, and the Banshee is inevitable.

Game Bundle

The Victory II comes with Accolade's Test Drive 5 (full) and a bunch of trial versions of popular (yet crappy) games such as Incoming, Forsaken, MotoRacer, Terracide (this one is absolutely horrible), Tomb Raider II (ditto) and Monster Truck Madness 2. Test Drive 5 is the plus of the Victory II's game bundle, but all the other trial versions aren't worth the paper CD-holders they're in (ok, they aren't that bad (w/the exception of...well you get the point :). I personally don't look at the game bundle *at all* when purchasing hardware, but if you want a few extra games to test out your card, or the full version of Test Drive 5 (which I heard was a good game), then take the game bundle of the Victory II into consideration when making your purchasing choice.

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