Paradise Accelerator Card for Windows. (graphics board) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Tom Benford
Are you tired of waiting for your video display to catch up with your fingers when you're word processing or desktop publishing in Windows? Can you take a snooze in the time it takes for your paint or draw applications to bring a complex graphic up on your monitor? Do you sometimes think your system has gone out to lunch while you're waiting for a screen refresh or redraw in your CAD or rendering program? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then you're suffering from the slow-video blues. The good news is that the Paradise Accelerator Card for Windows is a sure cure for what ails you--so cheer up!
This half-length card installs easily into any available 16-bit expansion slot and has a standard 15-pin D connector on its mounting bracket. A five-position DIP switch is also located on the bracket, and the switches set the active video mode on the card. Using combinations of switch settings, it's possible to select Super VGA modes of 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 at different timing rates to accommodate the timings of different monitors.
In addition to the DIP switches, the Paradise Accelerator Card also has a pair of jumper blocks that can be configured to further tailor the card's operation to specific system requirements. The first jumper block is used for generating a zero-wait state if the host PC is fast enough to operate that quickly (most 386SX and higher machines are), and the default configuration for this jumper is with the cap on the pins (feature enabled). The second jumper is used for selecting the address-latch enable line to work via the video controller card or the expansion bus; the default setting is with pins 1-2 capped to enable the line tied to the card. This is the configuration that should work with the vast majority of PCs, with only a few odd machines requiring a change to jumper pins 2-3 instead.
Installation is easy and should take less than half an hour even for a novice user, since the factory default settings will work perfectly for most installations.
The software drivers that accompany the card are also easy to install. The Windows drivers install directly from the Windows Setup section, and they're ready for use upon restarting Windows after the file copy is completed. DOS drivers are also provided for AutoCAD and AutoShade, Cadvance 3,0, Generic Cadd Level 3, Lotus 1-2-3 and Symphony, MicroStation, PCAD Level 2, VersaCAD Design, VersaCAD 386, Microsoft Word 5.0 and 5.5, and WordPerfect 5.0 and 5.1. A disk with video utilities is also provided. It includes the VESA utility as well as a VGA mode-switching utility.
By virtue of its built-in high-color capabilities, the Paradise Accelerator Card for Windows proves that computing can be a colorful activity indeed. The card boasts a 32,768-color palette and is capable of resolutions up to and including 1280 x 1024. Refresh rates up to 72 Hz in 1024 x 768 256-color mode are supported for flicker-free viewing on noninterlaced monitors.
Western Digital puts 1MB of RAM on the board to give it the oomph required for really fast video processing, and this combination works well. I ran some impromptu comparisons against a standard 512K VGA card I've used for quite some time, and the Paradise card was 8-10 times faster for DOS applications and 10-15 times faster for some Windows applications. The increase in speed was particularly dramatic with complex graphics-oriented programs like GEM Artline 2.0 and Ventura Publisher.
So, if you're down in the dumps with the slow-video blues, isn't it about time you took a trip to Paradise? This accelerator card is the only ticket you'll need.