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Yellow Fade
Game Wizard for iMac
  4 stars

April 20, 1999
by David Barton

SRP: $199
Micro Conversions
Game Wizard for iMac
Download latest driver

System Requirements: iMac Rev/A or Rev/B (not compatible with "fruity" colored iMacs)

Pros: beautiful, smooth 3Dfx graphics for your rev A or B iMac, great performance
Cons: voids your warranty, not compatible with the five new fruity-flavored iMac 266/333's, 8 MB (instead of 12 MB)

    When Apple originally shipped the iMac the media was surprised by the appearance and then inclusion of an apparent, undocumented expansion slot. The truth behind this slot, known as the Mezzanine or "mez" slot soon surfaced. It was similar to a PCI slot but Apple stated it was only for their own in-house use and discouraged developers drom pursuing any designs for that slot. Nevertheless, several companies are now manufacturing cards for the Mezzanine slot and Apple has now removed the slot from the new Rev. C (fruity) iMacs.

    Options are now available to add ADB, video, or even a SCSI port to your iMac Rev. A or B machine. The Micro Conversions Game Wizard (Game Wizard), a Voodoo 2 graphics card is an impressive piece of hardware designed for the hardcore gamer. The Game Wizard completely revitalizes your Rev A's inadequate ATI RAGE IIc chipset and is a drastic improvement over the Rev B's ATI RAGE Pro chipset.

    In order to install the Game Wizard you must completely dismantle your iMac into many pieces. This installational is a bit more complicated than installing RAM but if you have performed the latter or feel confident with dismantaling and reassembling your iMac then installtiing the Game Wizard shouldn't pose much of a problem. iMac2Day, which is part of MacNN, has a detailed Game Wizard Installation Guide which you may like to check out both before and after you purchase the Game Wizard.

    After installing the card I first launched Unreal. When I saw the Unreal Flyby at the start of the game I was awestruck. The Game Wizard delivers truly beautiful, smooth 3Dfx graphics. I could see a huge difference between the ATI RAGE Pro and the Game Wizard Voodoo 2. Although the Game Wizard won't turn your iMac into a gaming machine equivalent to the new G3s, it certainly comes close; an impressive feat in and of itself.

Machine Video RAM VRAM Render Device Unreal Fly-By FPS
iMac Rev/B RAGE Pro 160 MB 6 MB Rave 8.8
iMac Rev/B Voodoo 2 160 MB 8 MB 3Dfx 27.2
Yosemite 400 ATI 128 256 MB 16 MB Rave 35.6

    MacSoft's Unreal was allocated 100MB of RAM. The iMacs and the Yosemite resolutions were set to 640x480 at 32bit. The average FPS was obtained with XLR8YourMac's "Unreal FPS ToolKit 1.0.4".

    The GameWizard is also compatible with PC emulators and games that support the Glide 3D engine (the 3Dfx engine). Under VirtualPC 2.1.2 with Windows 98, I installed Unreal. I optimized the video preferences. I watched the Flyby with out the Voodoo acceleration and then with the Voodoo acceleration. There was a noticeable difference. The Game Wizzards performance will leave you breathless. The game did get a bit choppy when I was around more than 5 bots at a time, but the game preformed very well other than that. I also downloaded demos of Tomb Raider and Starcraft from their respective developer sites. The games felt like they were being natively run on their own platform and not under emulation. You would forget you are playing a PeeCee game until you need to right click. (hint hint....Apple)

    The numbers truly speak for themselves. You can find a refurbished rev A iMac from the Apple store for $750. Throw in the Micro Conversions Game Wizard and you have a serous sub $1000 gaming machine. In my opinion this is the next best investment a gamer can sink their money in to (RAM being #1). If you play games on your iMac, the performance and quality is definitely worth the price. tr