Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 145 / OCTOBER 1992 / PAGE 97

WinSpeed 1.03. (device driver) (Evaluation)
by Ralph Roberts

"Faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall..."

OK, that was Superman. But WinSpeed moves things along pretty rapidly, too, and--unlike the Man of Steel--it does do Windows in Super VGA.

We'll get more objective in a moment, but WinSpeed--the software-only display accelerator from Panacea-was a distinctly pleasant surprise. I had reluctantly accepted that Windows was slow in displaying intensive graphics, such as those in CorelDRAW!. Try blending colors or doing "fountain" fills, and you'll sit with crossed arms for a while as your display grinds out the graphic object. Other Windows applications suffer from this same Januarycold molasses slowness.

Let's put it this way: Speeding up Windows is good. WinSpeed is good.

Speeding up Windows applications is usually done in one of two ways. Hardware upgrades are the more expensive approach. Buying a 486-50 is certainly one solution, as is buying an expensive special video adapter like ATI's 8514 board. More realistic for most of us is a software upgrade.

Panacea claims a two to five times increase in VGA display speeds. I installed WinSpeed on my 386-20 with a Trident TVGA Super VGA display board and found it does indeed deliver within that range. There were no problems during installation using the automated installation procedure, or when I reinstalled manually for this review. One caution: For WinSpeed to install properly, you must start Windows from the WinSpeed subdirectory.

CorelDRAW! and Aldus PhotoStyler were two of my often-used applications that benefited dramatically. Scrolling in all Windows applications now seems around 30 percent or so faster, a very nice increase. WinSpeed achieves its speed by replacing the normal drivers shipped with Windows or with your Super VGA board with special drivers optimized for maximum display speed.

The amount of display-speed increase you get depends on which graphics board is used. WinSpeed is designed to work with a key set of Super VGA boards having specific types of VGA chips. By taking advantage of some little-known features of these VGA chips, WinSpeed gives you additional performance not available directly from the board's manufacturer. This isn't as limited as it sounds--the manual lists 45 boards WinSpeed supports.

Panacea writes approximately 90 percent of the drivers for video cards currently being sold, so the company knows a lot about optimizing display drivers for the major VGA chips. WinSpeed specifically works with Paradise, Tseng ET-4000, ATI, Trident 8800 and 8900, V7, and ZyMOS 51 chips. Normally, the installation program detects the chip you have, but manual installation is also possible for nonstandard boards.

WinSpeed increases display speed for all three of the 256-coior VGA modes: 640 x 480, 800 x 600, and 1024 x 768 pixels per screen. It must use one of the 256-coior VGA modes of your adapter to achieve its speed, even when displaying 16 colors. So, a card with 256-coior capacity is required.

For my system, WinSpeed was a welcome and productive enhancement.