3D Blaster Annihilator 2 Ultra
$499 Creative Labs, Inc.
In a Nutshell
- High-performance 3D video
- Uses latest XFree86 support
- Software must be downloaded from Internet
- No software to utilize DVD hardware assist
|Faster than a Speeding Bullet: The 3D Blaster Annihilator 2 Ultra provides speed and spectacular color. |
- XFree86 4.x.x
- Red Hat 6.1 or later
- Pentium II 266 MHz or better
- 64 MB RAM or better
- Windows 9x
- Windows ME
- Windows NT
- Windows 2000
Five hundred dollars might be considered a lot of money to spend just to play games. But if you’re looking for a new video board, you need to look at the Annihilator. Creative Labs 3D Blaster Annihilator 2 Ultra is the big brother of the less expensive Annihilator 2 ($299). Both share a common base, but the Ultra packs more memory and power into a single board for the ultimate in 3D game play. The Annihilator 2 Ultra uses NVidia’s GeForce2 Ultra sporting 256-bit graphics architecture, which features 64 MB of DDR (Double Data Rate) RAM running at 460 MHz. This translates into an exceptionally crisp display that offers spectacular color and is extraordinarily fast.
The 3D Blaster supports resolutions as high as 2048 x 1536 if 16-bit color resolution is used. In order to keep the frame rate up, most 3D games operate at a much lower resolution than that. High-performance 3D acceleration still has significant advantages in terms of frame rate and high-resolution quality.
Just like the latest high-performance 4X AGP video adapters, the 3D Blaster comes with a fan and heatsink. However, it does not require the external power connection found on the rival Voodoo5 5500. Also, the 3D Blaster has a VGA connection as well as a flat panel connection.
Driving the Board
Drivers for the Annihilator 2 Ultra must be downloaded from the Internet if you want the latest versions. We used Build 0.9-5 from NVidia’s Web site (). This build is compatible with XFree86 4.0.1 and comes in RPM format, which simplifies installation. We used the latest Red Hat, which comes with XFree86 4.x.x. Users of earlier Linux distributions may need to download the latest version of XFree86 first.
Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows ME drivers are included with the board. Other Windows drivers must be downloaded from Creative Labs’ Web site.
The NVidia drivers support OpenGL but not Glide, which is specific to 3Dfx-based boards. Most new Linux-based 3D games support OpenGL and many support both interfaces. Some older games support only Glide. Upgrades for those games that allow them to work with the 3D Blaster may be available.
A Gamer’s Necessity
NVidia’s GeForce2 Ultra chip incorporates a second-generation set of rendering engines that feed the NVidia Shading Rasterizer. This in turn drives four parallel pixel pipeline processors, terminating in a High Definition Video Processor that drives a RAMDAC capable of rendering over 1 billion pixels per second and 31 million triangles per second. Its texture blend support is quite impressive. It supports everything from shading and lighting to light and reflection maps to fog and depth cuing. The result? Using this board with Linux-based 3D games will impress you.
The 3D Blaster Annihilator 2 Ultra is one impressive 3D-video system. It’s not very difficult to install on new Linux distributions and it should turn any Linux PC into a great 3D gaming system. Is it worth its hefty price tag? If the highest quality video is important to you, then it absolutely is.
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