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Nubus Card questions- Centris 650

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Hi, I'm still a newbie with old Macintoshes so bear with me.  I'm getting a Centris 650 in the mail in a few days and it comes with two Nubus cards installed.  The first is an unknown video card and the second is (I think) a Digidesign Audiomedia card.  My questions are:


1) Do Nubus audio and video cards speed up system performance? If so, how much and how can you tell?


2) I'm not doing any audio recording but I will be playing games and multimedia cd-roms.  Does the Audiomedia card improve sound for games, or did all 68k-era compatible games just output 8 bit sound natively since most 68K Macs weren't capable of doing 16 bit sound?


3) This Centris 650 has ethernet built-in via an AAUI-15 connector.  Is there any system performance or internet speed difference in getting a dedicated Nubus ethernet card, or is this on-board ethernet sufficient?

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Welcome motley,


I'll try my best to answer some Qs:


1) For general use, onboard video is generally faster (eg. scrolling, games, desktop use) - Nubus is technically a slower data path but the high-end cards have dedicated processors to offload many tasks to improve the performance running at high resolutions or colour depth, or speed up things like Photoshop filters, 2D work.  Having a second nubus video card is cool for having dual displays on your Mac even if it's not a great card.


2) Your Digidesign nubus card is not a "sound card" for outputting system sounds but a dedicated card for music production and recording.  Chances are if you don't have the breakout box and associated cabling it's kind of useless.


3) Onboard ethernet is limited to 10mbps, however you can pickup 10/100mbps nubus network cards. For most retro computing purposes though 10mbps is more than sufficient



Edited by Byrd
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2) Your Digidesign nubus card is not a "sound card" for outputting system sounds but a dedicated card for music production and recording.  Chances are if you don't have the breakout box and associated cabling it's kind of useless.

The Audiomedia card (both PCI and NuBus) Don't need a BoB.




But yes, it does require an application like ProTools to be installed.

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Thanks for the answers.  Yeah, the Audiomedia card in my Centris looks exactly like that picture on the right.  The reason I asked about gaming and 16 bit sound output is because Digidesign has this posted on their driver download page


Digidesign Sound Drivers


Digidesign Sound Drivers is a System extension that allows any application that can play sound via Sound Manager to play that audio through Digidesign hardware. Most Macintosh applications that make any sound do so by using Apple's Sound Manager. Apple's release of Sound Manager version 3.0 allowed third-party companies, like Digidesign, to build expansion cards for sound input and output, rather than having sound go in and out of the internal mic or Mac speaker. Digidesign hasn't built expansion cards specifically for Sound Manager 3.0. Rather, we have built software drivers to work as the "glue" between the Sound Manager and our existing high-end audio cards. Version 3.0 of the Sound Manager also has the capability to handle 16-bit, 44.1 kHz, stereo audio. This means you can record and playback CD-quality sound into any application that supports 16-bit audio, including most multimedia applications and games.




So according to them, it does output 16 bit stereo sound for games that support that feature.  What's confusing is how do you know if a game supports this feature or not for 68K Macs?  If you are playing from the 68K binary in a CD-ROM game, it seems like it would send the 8 bit stereo information to Sound Manager by default.  If so, the 16 bit capability of the card seems pointless even with the "handshaking" between the card and Sound Manager/Quicktime.   I guess I'll have to experiment when I get it tomorrow.

Edited by motley2659
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The audio can be 8-bit or 16-bit.  It just depends on what quality was used in the game design.  Really, size of file would warrant 8-bit, and lower quality.  Like for instance you could open an 8-bit AIFF or 16-bit AIFF and just play them in quicktime, and the audio is fine on the fly.  8-bit in a game would also be used for quicker playback of sound files, makes things smooth.


As far as the audio card, as long as you have the proper drivers you might get lucky and be able to select the card as your output device, and you would be good to go.


As far as the video cards, see this page:




Some cards have some acceleration, though just minor to make it be as fast as the built in video, and most only as long as you have the driver.  Unless you get some really good Nubus Video Card, which are kinda hard to come by.  Because if you ever ended up getting a good Nubus Video card, the lifetime of the computer was quite a bit longer because the usefulness went up in the "photoshop days" of the mac.


Good Luck!



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Bit-width aside, the digital to analogue converters (and the A-D converters) in the Audiomedia card are much cleaner than the onboard AD/A in the Mac.  And if you have an amp with digital in (TOSLink/SPDIF), you can directly hook up the digital out on the AM (AMII version only, may need a coax-optical converter inline).

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