NuBus Video Cards

SuperMac Thunder II GX

Physical Specs and Compatibility

The SuperMac Thunder II GX Series of cards are 12" NuBus cards compatible with 680x0- and PowerPC-based Macs running up to Mac OS 8.5.1. They may be compatible with higher versions of the Mac OS, but no information for Mac OS 8.6 or higher is available at this time. It's doubtful that the cards are compatible with Mac OS 9.

Hands On: Chris Lawson

This card definitely feels faster than any of the others I've benched recently, and by a substantial margin. This is a NuBus card worth its eBay price. The SuperMac software actually works well with it (though I still don't prefer the way SuperMac stuck their settings inside the Monitors control panel through the use of an extension). Here are the numbers:

The following video benchmarks were obtained at 640 x 480 resolution using Speedometer 4.02:

computer             1-bit  4-bit  8-bit
IIcx, "Toby"         0.252   n/a  0.248
IIcx, Th2GX, on      0.286  0.269  0.446
IIcx, 8•24 GC, on 0.421   n/a  0.422

The "Toby" card is Apple's unaccelerated Macintosh II Video Card. The Thunder II GX was tested with acceleration off and on. Performance improved with acceleration enabled at all settings. It is only 3% faster at 1-bit and 4-bit, but 79% faster at 8-bit.

The Apple 8•24GC is shown for comparison. On the commonly used 8-bit setting, the Thunder II GX outperforms the Apple 8•24GC, which was the fastest card tested until now.

I don't trust benchmark numbers any more. This card is far faster than the benchmarks indicate - at least twice as fast as anything else I've tested. I think I really need to get another NuBus system up and running....

Field Reports

"I am using my SuperMac (Radius) Thunder II GX - 1360 on Mac os 9.1, on a PM 8100/110 with 144 MB RAM and a Newer Tech G3 upgrade."

Acceleration/Resolution/Color Support

The cards provide standard QuickDraw acceleration as well as Photoshop acceleration via their twin 80 MHz AT&T 3210 DSPs and support the following resolution/color combinations:

  • 512 x 384 up to 24-bit (1360 only)
  • 640 x 480 up to 24-bit
  • 640 x 870 up to 24-bit (1360 only)
  • 832 x 624 up to 24-bit
  • 1024 x 768 (at 75 Hz) up to 24-bit (1360 will also do 60 Hz)
  • 1152 x 870 up to 24-bit
  • 1152 x 882 up to 24-bit (1360 only)
  • 1152 x 910 up to 24-bit (1360 only)
  • 1360x1024 up to 24-bit (1360 and 1600 only)
  • 1600x1200 up to 24-bit (1600 only)

Software

Links to Radius and SuperMac software on Gamba's site.

Other Notes

  • The Thunder II GX 1152 and 1360 have a DB-15 connector. The Thunder II GX 1600 has a 13w3 connector like that found on the Apple Portrait Display and many Sun monitors.
  • The 1360 and 1152 are occasionally seen on eBay for around US$75; the 1600 is substantially rarer.
  • The 1360 will drive most fixed-frequency 19", 20", and 21" monitors.
  • The Thunder II GX series should not be used with Photoshop on NuBus Power Macs as it will slow down Photoshop functions.
  • The Thunder II GX 1600 provides CMYK acceleration and color separation in addition to normal RGB acceleration.

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