"Elsa decided to concentrate on providing more hardware functionality than bundling software titles... Jedi Knight framerate tests were almost twice as fast as any other chipset, posting an amazing 64.4 frames per second."
ELSA Victory Erazor 4mb PCI
Elsa�s latest home video adapter is based on nVidia�s 128-bit processor, the Riva128, and provides more out-of-the-box features than any other board reviewed here: video in and out, 2D & 3D acceleration, DOS compatibility and a flash BIOS.
Elsa�s product box was one of the most compact of the bunch, but also included the most material. Inside you�ll find a sturdily built board, installation and general manual, driver CD, game CD, and a very interesting break-out cable. Around 9" long, the cable plugs into the back of the video board and splits into S-Video in and out, two composite ins and one composite out. This allows for a staggering amount of video I/O connections and places this board in the forefront for those users shopping for video capture applications. The Erazor is a complete redesign of the Riva128 reference board which is used in both the Viper 330 and Velocity 128 flavors.
Indeed, Elsa decided to concentrate on providing more hardware functionality than bundling software titles. The package includes no full-version games; only several playable demos are included. A video capture and playback program, MainActor, is included along with a full complement of drivers for Windows 95, NT 3.51 and 4.0, Windows 3.1 and OS/2 Warp.
Elsa�s getting started manual provides ten pages of easy-to-understand instructions for installation on all operating systems in six languages. Installation of the board went smoothly, and we were soon up and running.
We tested the board using version 2.02 of the Windows 95 drivers. Unfortunately, it would appear that these drivers are still a work in progress as custom screen positioning, sizing and refresh rate options were all grayed out. Otherwise, basic resolution and color depth setting were available in addition to numerous fixed refresh rates, ranging up to 160Hz at 640x480 to 120Hz at 1152x864 and 85Hz at 1600x1200.
Due to the Riva128�s limit of 4mb of SGRAM, the board was unable to produce true color resolutions higher than 1152x864 which places this board out of the running for serious graphics professionals. Users satisfied with these limitations will be pleased to find the 2D acceleration is among the top tested, thanks to the Riva�s excellent hardware optimization: ZD Labs� Winstone 98 tests placed it only 2.4% behind our top performer. You can be sure that as it�s drivers mature in the coming months this margin will shrink even further.
Full-screen MPEG playback was quite impressive at 1024x768@32-bit, though it was not nearly as smoothly interpolated as Diamond�s FireGL 100 Pro.
3D performance is truly impressive compared to boards available only 8 months ago, with numbers coming in around 5% behind our current benchmark burner in Winbench 98 tests. Users would be hard pressed to find any visual performance difference between these boards. Jedi Knight framerate tests were almost twice as fast as any other chipset, posting an amazing 64.4 frames per second. Even though this number is high, it didn�t appear to play as smoothly as it did on boards based on Rendition or 3D Labs processors.
Users looking to play Quake II with Windows 95 OpenGL acceleration may be disappointed. While nVidia is currently working on alpha drivers, they wouldn�t install properly on our test system and the question of whether Elsa will integrate them into their future drivers is still unanswered. Quake II numbers in software mode were average, though it should be noted that the game plays much smoother than a 12.5fps score may indicate.
DOS performance was almost identical to other Riva128-based boards, with one major bonus being VBE 3.0 support in the flash BIOS. There was no utility included to set DOS refresh rates, so users will be stuck with the lowest common denominator of 60Hz.
Users looking for an integrated 2D/3D/Video capture board with blazing speed and excellent DOS compatibility won�t be disappointed in the Victory Erazor. Those who don�t need the video functionality may want to look for a board with more comprehensive drivers and a larger game bundle.