First post, by Munx
So this is a build of mine that contains under-priced and under-powered 1999 hardware which has under-utilized APIs and instruction sets - S3 MeTal, S3TC, A3D and 3Dnow!.
All the games tested here take advantage of at least one.
The heart of this PC is an AMD K6-2 with it's 3Dnow! instructions, running at 350MHz.
The motherboard is a Mitac 5114vu with VIA MVP4 SS7 chipset. This motherboard contains an ESS ES1989 sound chip and the MVP4 chipset features an integrated Trident Blade 3D, which would have made for an under-powered, yet cheap gaming rig already, however there are no proprietary/rarely used API's for them, so I went with different choices for sound and graphics:
Aureal Vortex 8820 sound card by Turtle beach for A3D sound
Diamond Stealth III S540 (S3 Savage 4 pro), with its support for MeTal API and S3TC. PCI version since the integrated Trident uses AGP.
All packed in a tiny modern case - AeroCool PGS QS-182
Time for a few benchmarks!
Unreal timedemo - 23.7 FPS (800x600, 32bit)
Quake 2 demo1 - 42.2 FPS (800x800, 16bit)
Quake 3 demo four - 22.3 FPS (640x480, 32bit, max settings)
Unreal and Unreal Tournament were the only games I had that support MeTaL.
Unreal tournament runs decently and stays 25-35 FPS most of the time, even when playing on FPS-hitting maps:
Unreal works just as well and here you can see S3TC in action:
Looks really amazing for the time, though it appears the PCI interface is bottlenecking the S3 card in the S3TC DEMO maps, as FPS tanks to sub-1 when more textures are on screen. Seems that even with 32 megs of memory it still needs to borrow some from the system RAM, as I didn't encounter such problems when running these maps on the AGP version.
Next up is Quake 2, which is one of those games that properly takes advantage of 3Dnow! and so the game runs quite smoothly and looks good on the Savage4
Quake 3 is also playable @ 640x480 with max settings, although for a smooth game I would go with lower settings.
Lastly we have Half-life. While most of the time it hovers in the 25-30 FPS range, the high FPU requirements and the lack of 3Dnow! is a bit too much for the K6 and so during more intense moments the framerate can drop to ~10 FPS. Overall, I would still consider it playable, though an Intel or Athlon CPU would really help.