DOS Days

Imagine 128

Launched at the all-important Comdex trade show in 1994, the Imagine 128 was the first 128-bit graphics card to hit the market when all its competitors were just unveiling their 64-bit graphics cards.

Released 1994
Chipset Imagine 128, Cirrus Logic CL-GD5422
Standards MDA, Hercules, CGA, EGA, VGA
Memory 4 MB
Ports 9-pin DSUB (RGB analogue video out)
Part #  
RAMDAC Texas Instruments PTVP3025
Price At launch: $699
See Also Number Nine Imagine 128 II

With its first ever chip built in-house, it had a 128-bit graphics engine and 128-bit memory architecture to achieve the highest data throughput of any graphics card on the market. Despite this high throughput, their GPU had little to no hardware support for 3D graphics operations.

It could run at resolutions up to 1600 x 1200 in 16-bit colours, with refresh rates as high as 83 Hz.

The Imagine 128 card came with an excellent set of Windows display control utilities called Hawkeye95 that were accessible from the Display Properties dialogue, or from the taskbar. This allowed you to change the refresh rate on-the-fly and create custom configurations. It also had a colour calibration utility called Color Perfect, allowing linear adjustments in RGB or CMY colour space.


Board Revisions

No information is known on the various board revisions the Imagine 128 had.



The Imagine 128 competed directly with graphics accelerator chipsets including the S3 Vision968 found on the Hercules Terminator Pro, Diamond Stealth64 Video 3400XL and ELSA Winner2000 Pro/X2 cards. It also competed with the Matrox Millennium, ATI Graphics Pro Turbo, and Diamond FireGL with its 3D Labs GLINT 300SX chip (also found on the ELSA Gloria 8, Fujitsu Sapphire 2SX, AccelGraphics AccelR8, and more). Among this group, the Imagine 128 scored highly.


In the Media

"Both the Imagine 128 ($699 list) and its newer sibling, Imagine 128 Series 2 ($699 list) combine top-flight performance with exceptional utilities and productivity tools. An Editor's Choice in last year's high-end review, the Imagine 128 has aged well, and remains an excellent choice for handling large bitmaps and vector graphics. The Series 2 boasts a souped-up 2-D graphics engine, and as-yet untapped features that promise to deliver enhanced video and 3-D capabilities as well.

Both cards feature Number Nine's Hawkeye95 display control utilities, a user-oriented suite that is among the best designed in the business. Accessible via the Display Properties dialogue or directly from the Windows 95 taskbar, Hawkeye95's individual components work together to form an integrated set of tools.

Valuable features include an excellent status page that lists everything from the current resolution and driver version to the bus size and BIOS revision. A simple but effective Monitor Adjustment utility lets you safely adjust the refresh rate and create custom configurations, and a well-designed color calibration utility called Color Perfect includes individual linear adjustments in RGB or CMY color space.

The Imagine 128 and Imagine 128 Series 2 run neck and neck at the top end of the 2-D accelerator market. Each delivers super-fast refresh rates, topping out at an astounding 83 Hz in 1,600-by-1,200 16-bit color mode - if you can afford a monitor to handle that combination.

While we were unable to test the Series 2's performance in several areas - the card's MPEG and CAD software arrived after we had completed testing, and its OpenGL drivers for Windows NT remain unavailable as of this writing - a look at the card's WinBench 96 scores provides some insight into the chip's raw capability. At a resolution of 1,024-by-768 in true color mode, the card achieved an excellent Graphics Winmark score of 26.5. To put this into perspective, consider that most current midrange products process roughly the same number of pixels in 256-color mode as the Series 2 processes in true-color mode.

Under Windows 95, the early Series 2 drivers we tested did not completely deliver on the new chip's promise, but were solid and complete and include advanced DirectDraw support. The card is expected to scale nicely as Pentium Pro processors and 64-bit PCI buses enter the market, thanks in part to its Intelligent Command Processor and support for PCI bursts.

The older Imagine 128, no performance slouch itself, was the fastest Photoshop and QuarkXPress engine, finishing just ahead of the Series 2.

If you want rock-solid images and the best tools in the business consider either Imagine card. As Number Nine improves he breadth and depth of the Series 2 drivers, this promises to be the card to watch - JH"

PC Magazine, 25th June 1996


Setting it Up

No information is available on how to configure the card.


Operation Manual

Get in touch if you can provide this missing item!

Hawkeye for Windows
Version 2.27, 25 Apr 1995


Windows 95 Driver
Version 0.13 (Build 440), 1 Apr 1995


Windows 95 Driver
Version 2.13, 26 Apr 1996

Includes Hawkeye utility software.

Windows 95 Driver
Version 2.32, 9 Aug 1995

Includes Hawkeye utility software.


Windows 95 Driver
Version 1.01.10, 18 Oct 1996

Windows NT 3.5 Driver
Version 1.1a, 22 Feb 1995

Windows NT 3.51 Driver
Version 1.13, 27 Sep 1995

Multi-head display driver.

Windows NT 3.51 Driver
Version 1.15, 18 Apr 1996

Windows NT 4 Driver
Version 4.101.03, 14 Nov 1996

OS/2 2.11 and Warp 3 Drivers
Version 1.08 Beta, 1 Mar 1995

OS/2 Warp 3 and 4 Drivers
Version 2.13a, 1 Nov 1996

OS/2 Warp 3 and 4 Drivers
Version 2.15b, 12 May 1997



More Pictures