After installing the card, most users that have already installed any of the Detonator3 drivers will be guided through the install of the Ultra version of the reference drivers. If you are switching to the Ultra from a 3dfx card, make sure you delete all record of the card in the registry. I believe 3dfx has made an uninstaller. Use it.
One of the main reasons to choose any Creative Labs product is the support. The Anihilator2 Ultra is no different. Upon inserting the included installation CD, you are greeted with this screen.
From here you have the option to install the Blaster Control software, Lava!, and the GeForce2 Experience demos. You tweakers may want to give the Blaster Control a run before you decide to stick with the reference drivers. Driver version numbers on my CD were 6.25 for Win9X/ME and 6.24 for Win2K.
Blaster Control has to be the most polished driver interface available. After running the setup and rebooting, a small icon shows up in the task bar. From here you have access to just about every setting you want.
Selecting your screen resolution is a right click, a right click and a left click.
You will notice in the desktop screenshot a selection called Blaster Control Display Center. This is where you have control over the settings we associate with tweaking the card. Here is a few of the panels of the Blaster Control plus a shot of the Blaster Control Lancher.
|Blaster Control Main||Blaster Control Tweak|
|Blaster Control Diagnostics||Blaster Control Launcher|
From the main panel you can select the tweak option, which is where most of us will spend our time. From the Tweak panel, you can select OpenGL and Direct3D options like FSAA and anisotropic filtering, as well as overclock the memory. Why no core overclocking? It was a decision ruled by stability. Besides, you have more potential to get more performance by overclocking the memory. If you want full control, download the Fast Trax Drivers which will be covered in part two of the review.
The Blaster Control Launcher allows you to associate certain desktop settings like color depth and resolution with programs you frequently use. In the example shot, if I click on the shortcut in the Taskbar menu to Edit Pad, and the Blaster Control Launcher resizes my desktop to 1600x1200x16 while Edit pad is in use.
With all the functionality built into the Blaster Control software, the standard interface is stripped of most of its functionality.
*That screenshot help to explain my somewhat odd color scheme. Be sure to visit Alienware, builder of my test system.
Although I am convinced that the .mp3 is just a fad ( Heh :þ ), Creative Labs includes the Lava! Player. Similar to the visualization modes of Winamp, Lava! synchronizes a moving image with the music. The difference is that the image is in Direct3D. With several plug-ins to choose from and download, I doubt you will get bored with it.
You also get the GeForce2 Experience Demos. These are the best way to show of your card at the next LAN party, aside from the jaw dropping timedemos.
The Lightning demo has always been a favorite of mine, showing of per pixel shading and the power of the Ultra's lighting engine.
It is not really normal practice to have an interview in the middle of a review, but after reading this and preceding pages you may have some questions.
Steve Mosher was kind enough to play email tag with me to answer a few.
Next Page: Interview