Price: £297.02 plus VAT
When choosing a 3D graphics card for your system, you have two options: you can go for a card designed for the market in which you work, that’s qualified to work reliably with the programs you use, and comes with decent drivers; or you can save hundreds of pounds and buy a much cheaper gamer’s card instead and take a risk.
The Morpheus range of graphics cards from 3D Power is designed to provide games junkies with fast graphics without the high price of professional graphics cards. In terms of performance, there’s often not much between them.
The Morpheus Titanium Ti500 is based on nVidia’s latest Titanium range of processors, the Titanium 500 being the top of the line. It’s basically a GeForce3 with a slightly higher clock rate (240MHz) as well as 500MHz DDR memory. The card looks similar to the Elsa Gloria DCC card. It has 64MB of memory, and uses two purple anodized heat sinks for cooling. The GPU itself has a fan and heatsink combo, though it’s a stylish circular one. The most obvious physical difference is the lack of a DVI output on the Morpheus card, an obvious cost saving for a game-oriented card. The Morpheus does come with a TV-out socket to allow you to drive a television set instead of a monitor. This is obviously so that gamers can make use of large-screen sets, though it also makes the card a useful presentation device.
So how does the card perform in a professional 3D environment? Surprisingly, extremely well. Despite not being ‘qualified’ for use with applications such as Alias|Wavefront Maya, the card performed perfectly well with the program, as it did with Maxon Cinema 4D and NewTek LightWave.
What’s really impressive, though, is the speed. The card marginally outperformed the Quadro-based Elsa Gloria DCC in the LightWave speed test and also in the Cinebench tests. When you consider that the Ti500 costs only £349, it appears to be a steal. What you must consider is whether the cost saving and performance gain of a cheaper games card like the Morpheus Ti500 is worth possible compatibility problems and instability when used in a professional environment, though we did not encounter any of these during testing.
To take things even further, overclocking is freely encouraged. When manufactured chips vary in quality, more speed tends to be attainable. The best chips become the fastest in a range, while those with less tolerance are down-clocked so they’re stable at a given speed. It’s therefore possible to increase the clock speed incrementally to wring the last ounce of performance from a chip, and a registry patch is available for the GeForce3 that enables an Overclocking tab in the nVidia display preferences. Most professionals will
not really want to bother with this since it’s courting disaster, but for testing purposes, we were able to get the Morpheus to run smoothly during testing at 270MHz, 30MHz faster than the given speed.
If you like to take a little risk for a large saving in cost, then the Morpheus Ti500 is a fantastic bargain.