STB Wind/X. (Evaluation)
by Tom Benford
The WIND/X is a half-length Windows and GUI (Graphical User Interface) adapter card from STB. The review unit came populated with 512K of on-board video RAM (VRAM), which can be upgraded to 1MB by adding four 128K SIPP modules to the vacant sockets on the board. The accompanying installation, driver, and utility software is supplied on 5 1/4-inch media along with a well-written user's manual.
The straightforward hardware installation consists principally of replacing the current video card with the WIND/X unit and installing the software. There are no switch settings to contend with on the board, although several jumpers are provided to change the default configurations if you find it necessary to resolve special hardware conflicts that may occur on some systems or with other peripheral devices. I didn't encounter any problems with the default settings on the review unit, but the excellent diagrams and explanations in the manual would've been invaluable in correcting them had they occurred.
The WIND/X card has a built-in bus mouse port on its mounting bracket, which also holds the 15-pin D connector for attaching the monitor cable. A Logitech MouseMan three-button bus mouse and Logitech mouse driver software are packed with the WIND/X card. The bus mouse port can be disabled by pin-cap position of jumper J8; I opted to disable the port in order to use my Microsoft mouse (connected via COM 1) for review purposes. (This also eliminated the need to change all my software configurations to tell them to look for the mouse at the bus port instead of the serial port.)
The WIND/X board is a fast and capable performer, delivering excellent resolution and significant graphics speed improvement for Windows applications, although text-based applications didn't reflect the accelerated speeds as much. I didn't experience any performance improvements that even remotely approached STB's claim of speeds "up to 20 times faster than Super VGA for Windows 3.0 functions." It should be noted, however, that the WIND/X board was indeed faster than some of the more expensive boards reviewed here.
Like the other Windows and GUI accelerators covered here, the WIND/X is capable of supporting 640 x 480, 800 x 600, and 1024 x 768 resolutions without flicker. The WIND/X board also supports the high-color option of 65,536 colors at 640 x 480 resolution with the insertion of a special DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter) chip into the socket on the board. The upgrade chip, sold separately, allows for a 16-bit or CEG (Continuous Edge Graphics) extended-range color palette.
You get an abundance of drivers, including those for Windows, AutoCAD, Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3, CAD-VANCE 3.50, Generic CAD 1.1, and other applications. Installing the drivers is an automated process for Windows and some of the applications, while others require you to manually copy the desired video display drivers into the appropriate application's subdirectory. Although they arrived too late to be part of testing and evaluation, new optimized drivers for Windows 3.0 and 3.1 are available for this card.
The STB WIND/X makes a good choice for many users desiring faster performance for Windows or other graphics-intensive applications.