3D-Blaster vs Total 3D

DISCLAIMER: Although Canopus have given me this Total 3D board as a payment for their advertisment this has in no way affected the way that I have judged the two cards.


The Hardware

 

3D-Blaster

Total 3D

Chipset V1000-E V1000-L
Memory 50 ns 40 ns
RAMDAC AT&T PrecisionDAC ATT210505-13 External Brooktree BT485 DAC


Round 1 Price, availability etc.
  The 3D-Blaster from Creative Labs is the card that at least here in Europe is the easiest to get hold of. While Canopus sells the Total 3D via their web-site this means that you aslo has to add shipping costs to the total. I'm not sure what the 3D-Blaster cost now but a couple of weeks ago I heard about a price around 199$. The Canopus 3D cost 80$ more at 279$ and when you add the shipping cost and in some cases the customs tax it makes it even more expensive compared to the 3D-Blaster. Is it worth the extra bucks or has the 3D-Blaster won on knock-out in the first round already? Read on ......
  What's in the box?
  The 3D-blaster comes with the card and a couple of CD's with drivers and games in a typical Creative box. Nothing more. In contrast the Total 3D box is bursting with goodies. Not only do you get the card and some CD's with games and drivers but you also get a pair of 3D-glasses and a small audio-cord. Audio-cord I hear you ask? Well, I'll get back to that later but let's just say that the words 3D and sound is the key here.
The Pack-ins, games, driver etc.
  The 3D-Blaster comes with a CD with drivers, a bonus CD with some games and the shareware version of Quake. You'' also get a MPEG-player (SoftMPEG, only for Win95) which can play audio-CD's, Karoke CD's, video CD's and MPEG-videos. The games that comes with the 3D-Blaster is: Rebel Moon (CGL-title, not very good), Flight Unlimited (CGL-title, a bit old now), Battle arena Toshiden SE (CGL-title, more like a demo, a patch for the full version is included) and shareware Quake plus the VQuake patch. While this may sound like a lot of games no game except VQuake is much to play.

In contrast the Total 3D is full of quality games. Not only do you get VQuake as every Verite card does but you get Indy Car racing II, Whiplash 3D (enhanced for the 3D-glasses) and Descent II - Destination Quartzon 3D (8 levels enhanced for the 3D-glasses). These 3 games totally blows away the 3D-Blaster offerings. Indy Car Racing II is a great game even though it' starting to get a bit old. The new improved tracks are very nice and even the old ones are much more playable. What count is that the fps is now faster with all the enhancements in SVGA than the old games was with all detailes off in SVGA. Whiplash 3D is a game that at first didn't get much of a attention from me but after I tried it a couple of games I realised that is was super. While the graphics could be better (the cars look like boxes) the speed is phenomenal. This is how a 3D-game is supposed to be. Who need to much visual enhancements if it's slow? Descent II - Destination Quartzon is frankly only a 8-level demo. Confusing enough you get the game on 2 CD's. I realised that one version was a normal verite-enhanced demo (not as good as the patch, to much artifacts) and that the other version was enhanced for the 3D-glasses. I wish Canopus labeled the CD's a bit better. I started with the normal version and could not understand why it didn't work with the glasses. I will talk more about the 3D-glasses and their games later.

Besides the drivers you also get a MPEG-player with the Total 3D called Total Cinema. It's interface mimics a remote control and let's just say that it's a bit confusing. Total Cinema boasts with features like pre-programmed playback and freeze-frame image capture and can play both AVI's, MPEG's and video and audio CD's.

Both cards include drivers for Direct 3D and Direct Draw and drivers for Windows 3.11 although I suppose these are just for 2D. Strangely enough it says on the box for the Total 3D that it can be used with Windows NT. I'm no expert on NT but don't you need special drivers for NT?
The extras
  Well, the 3D-Blaster has no extras so this round goes to the Total 3D alone. Not only do you get a great 2D/3D-card, you also get Spatzializer 3D sound and 3D-LCD VR glasses. What does all this mean? The spatializer sound uses a Surround sound post-coprocessor to convert your audio cards output into 3D, theatre style surround sound. Unfortunatley my SB16 didn't have a line-out contacat so I couldn't try it out. The 3D-VR glasses are even more cool. You just plug them in the Total 3D and voilá, you can play all enhanced 3D-games. Ok, you can play the 2 enhanced 3D-games that support this glasses :-), Whiplash and Descent II. Of these 2 Whiplash is by far the best. If you set your monitors refresh-rate high enough (I set it at 120 Hz) you won't notice any flicker at all. And then Whiplash is great. You really feel the extra dimension without it being "to much". In constrast Descent II is "to much". Not only is the version slower than the real patch but the extra 3D-dimension just made me sick after half an hours gameplay. You definitley feel like ducking when the baddies shot at you though. So maybe it was just me. Canopus has also released a 3D-stereo image viewer for the glasses that can be downloade at their web.site.

Performance
Ok, now we come to the section most people are interested in. The performance. We have all heard the big words Canopus have used to describe the performance of their card, bios and drivers. So what can we expect from the Total 3D compared with the 3D-Blaster? I choose to run some different benchmarks. Both cards where used in my computer (specs at the end) and at similar conditions.  
 

3D-Blaster

Total 3D

+/- Performance for the Total 3D
Business Graphics Winmark 97
(1024x760x16)
36.5 44.2 +21%
High End grapics Winmark 97 20.4 20.4 +/- 0 %
Direct 3D - (1)
front-back, back-front
4.19 , 3.18
248.74 , 244.03
0.69 , 0.81
6.16 , 4.80
242.58 , 242.54
1.02 , 1.20
+ 47% , +51%
-2% , -1%
+48% , +48%
Direct 3D (2)
front-back, back-front
7.84 , 7.80
279.83 , 279.83
2.06 , 2.11
11.49 , 11.49
272.30 , 273.79
2.76 , 2.75
+47% , +47%
-3% , -2%
+34% , +30%
Quake
640x400
14.9 fps 14.9 fps +/- 0%
VQuake
640x480 , 640x400
21.4 fps , 25.4 fps 24.0 fps , 27.8 fps +12 % , +9%
Wizmark 2.0 2445.3 , 4.33 fps 6170.8 , 5,56 fps +111% , +28%
Wizmark 2.0 Lite 67.3 , 5.17 fps 95.8 , 7.37 fps +42 % , +43 %

(1) z-buffer, perspective Correction, Textures, Specular, No Updates, Gouraud, Bi-Linear filter
(2) perspective Correction, Textures, Specular, No Updates, Gouraud, Bi-Linear filter

My computer: P166, Shuttle Hot 555, 32 Mb Ram, 256 Kb cache, SB16, 6X-CD-ROM, Monster 3D

Not only did these test show that the Total 3D is faster than the 3D-Blaster but it even feels faster in Windows 95. Not that the 3D-Blaster is slow but I flet a slight improvement (very subjective, I know). These hard figures show that the claims Canopus have made is right, the board is very fast and in some cases almost 50% faster than the 3D-Blaster.

THE CONCLUSION
  Both these card are great. The 3D-Blaster is a perfect card to buy if you are on a budget and you're old card is crap. The packin's aren't that great but as more and more patches and OOTB-games come out this will become less and less important. The speed isn't stellar but isn't bad either. It's a good alrounder.

The Total 3D is a completely different beast. With it's price its competing with the mighty Voodoo-cards. And that's a battle it has some problems to win. I choose not to enclose the 3dfx results but let's just say that in all 3D-tests the Monster 3D drove circles around both Verite-cards. Fortunatley the voodoo still doesn't outperform the Verite by much in real games yet. If you have a normal 2D-card and have the money I very much recommend you to get the Total 3D. The 3D-glasses and spatzial sound may not be worth 80$ to you but the added speed and better included games certainly is for me. This is the best Verite-card right now and what better grade can it get from me more than that it will stay in my computer and that the 3D-Blaster will be moved to my girlfriends computer (much to her irritation, she was looking forward to it). The only cloud in Canopus sky is the fact that if you can afford the Total 3D you can at the same time afford a voodoo-board . .......