VOGONS


First post, by johnyept

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I have the following 3Dfx cards:
- 3Dfx Voodoo 3 2000 AGP with 1.00.01-SD BIOS
- 3Dfx Voodoo 3 2000 AGP with 2.15.09-SD BIOS
- Creative 3D Blaster Banshee CT6750 AGP with 1.02.1 BIOS

The Banshee took a few workarounds to make it work: motherboard BIOS must be set to AGP 2x, I had to use Evolution v1.00.00b drivers because Creative and 3Dfx drivers didn't work, and the only way to get 800x600 in the desktop was to install PowerStrip 2.78 and use it's PowerStrip monitor drivers, because selecting other monitors like 800x600 and 1024x768 from the default Windows ones didn't work. The Voodoo 3 cards only required original drivers and the PowerStrip monitor drivers so I could run 3Dmark 99 at 800x600.

According to the BIOSes I found in this page, the Voodoo 3 BIOSes can be updated, but the Banshee from Creative must be using a custom BIOS which has a higher number than the ones listed. So my doubts are:

1. Is there any advantage in flashing newer BIOS, like better performance or slightly better cooling?
2. In case of flashing, what tools are needed?
3. Can I backup the original BIOS?
4. If the flash fails, can I boot off an S3 Virge PCI card and reflash the original BIOS to the AGP card?
5. The Voodoo 3 cards have 2 diagonal holes to allow a different heatsink, are there any recommended bigger heatsinks?

Retro-W95/NT4: ASUS P3B-F, PIII 550, 192MB, VD3 AGP + VD2 PCI, ESS1868F, 120GB
Retro-W98/2K: ASUS P4S8X-X, P4 2.66Ghz, 512MB, FX 5600 128MB, SB Live! SB0060, 80+320GB
Retro-WXP/7: ASUS P5G41T-M LX, XEON E5450, 6GB, GTS 450 1GB, 120GB SSD, 1TB sATA

Reply 1 of 9, by darry

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johnyept wrote on 2021-03-07, 15:36:
I have the following 3Dfx cards: - 3Dfx Voodoo 3 2000 AGP with 1.00.01-SD BIOS - 3Dfx Voodoo 3 2000 AGP with 2.15.09-SD BIOS - C […]
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I have the following 3Dfx cards:
- 3Dfx Voodoo 3 2000 AGP with 1.00.01-SD BIOS
- 3Dfx Voodoo 3 2000 AGP with 2.15.09-SD BIOS
- Creative 3D Blaster Banshee CT6750 AGP with 1.02.1 BIOS

The Banshee took a few workarounds to make it work: motherboard BIOS must be set to AGP 2x, I had to use Evolution v1.00.00b drivers because Creative and 3Dfx drivers didn't work, and the only way to get 800x600 in the desktop was to install PowerStrip 2.78 and use it's PowerStrip monitor drivers, because selecting other monitors like 800x600 and 1024x768 from the default Windows ones didn't work. The Voodoo 3 cards only required original drivers and the PowerStrip monitor drivers so I could run 3Dmark 99 at 800x600.

According to the BIOSes I found in this page, the Voodoo 3 BIOSes can be updated, but the Banshee from Creative must be using a custom BIOS which has a higher number than the ones listed. So my doubts are:

1. Is there any advantage in flashing newer BIOS, like better performance or slightly better cooling?
2. In case of flashing, what tools are needed?
3. Can I backup the original BIOS?
4. If the flash fails, can I boot off an S3 Virge PCI card and reflash the original BIOS to the AGP card?
5. The Voodoo 3 cards have 2 diagonal holes to allow a different heatsink, are there any recommended bigger heatsinks?

See
Voodoo 3 snow/glitches and AGP vs PCI BIOS questions
for points 1, 2.

For 3, the answer is yes .

For 4, I imagine the answer is yes, but I have never had that scenario .

For 5, you should find some examples of the mods people have done for cooling .lby searching on Vogons .

Reply 2 of 9, by johnyept

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Thanks for the info.

FLASH.EXE crashes when I run it from DOS 7.10 (Windows 98SE), so I made a recovery floppy with the latest BIOS (2k11sd.rom) and flashed both cards, keeping the backup copies that the floppy creates. I noticed that if making a backup with DUMPBIOS.EXE from Windows 98 DOS mode it creates a 64k BIN file, while the recovery floppy creates a 32k ROM file like the ones downloaded, so I'll backup both just in case.

Then I ran 3DMark 99/2000/2001SE on both cards just to make sure they're stable. The score on 3DMark 99 (DX6) jumped from 5800 to 6200 on both cards, so I guess there's an advantage in flashing a newer BIOS after all!

That takes care of questions 1 through 4. As for 5, I'll try to find a big and cheap compatible heatsink on aliexpress, with so many cards out there I'm bound to find something better than that tiny black square!

Retro-W95/NT4: ASUS P3B-F, PIII 550, 192MB, VD3 AGP + VD2 PCI, ESS1868F, 120GB
Retro-W98/2K: ASUS P4S8X-X, P4 2.66Ghz, 512MB, FX 5600 128MB, SB Live! SB0060, 80+320GB
Retro-WXP/7: ASUS P5G41T-M LX, XEON E5450, 6GB, GTS 450 1GB, 120GB SSD, 1TB sATA

Reply 3 of 9, by Joseph_Joestar

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johnyept wrote on 2021-03-07, 19:31:

I'll try to find a big and cheap compatible heatsink on aliexpress, with so many cards out there I'm bound to find something better than that tiny black square!

If you intend to remove the existing heatsink from the graphics chip, be extremely careful. The glue used on Voodoo 3 heatsinks is very strong, and it's possible to damage the chip beneath during removal.

As an alternative, I would suggest looking for a PCI bracket that can hold two fans and placing it below the Voodoo 3. It's safer than tampering with the heatsink and will likely provide even better cooling.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / Audigy1 / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 4 of 9, by johnyept

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I have practically no space under the card... I was thinking of heating it up with a heat gun, and very slowly and gently twist it around until it starts to move. But I'll only do that if I find the right heatsink. All heatsinks I found so far have the 2 pins slightly off the diagonal like most old cards have, but the Voodoo 3 has them exactly diagonally placed. I could find a bigger heatsink with no holes, drill 2 holes and insert the pins from another heatsink, but for now the search continues...

Retro-W95/NT4: ASUS P3B-F, PIII 550, 192MB, VD3 AGP + VD2 PCI, ESS1868F, 120GB
Retro-W98/2K: ASUS P4S8X-X, P4 2.66Ghz, 512MB, FX 5600 128MB, SB Live! SB0060, 80+320GB
Retro-WXP/7: ASUS P5G41T-M LX, XEON E5450, 6GB, GTS 450 1GB, 120GB SSD, 1TB sATA

Reply 5 of 9, by Doornkaat

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The epoxy used on Voodoo 3 2000 cards does not soften when heated.
Do not try to twist the heatsink off! It's a gamble wether the solder connections (or the pads' adhesion to the board) are stronger or the epoxy holding the heatsink in place and which cracks first.
If you can get a knife or a screwdriver wedged between the heatsink and the chip (the black plastic, not the green substrate!) this'll be the least dangerous way of popping off the heatsink.
The Voodoo 3 cards also use a hole spacing not found on other cards so you usually have to adapt the mounting tabs on a heatsink to mount it.

Edited spelling.

Last edited by Doornkaat on 2021-03-08, 07:55. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 6 of 9, by Ozzuneoj

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I would not bother trying to remove a heatsink on a Voodoo 3 with the intent of upgrading it. As has been stated, the epoxy used is insanely tough. Remember, that chip is soldered to the board. If any of the joints are less than perfect, prying on the heatsink may break them and kill the card.

Also, these cards often ran for 20+ years in arcade cabinets, caked in dust, ending up with burnt smelling and discolored PCBs from a lack of ventilation (system fans probably died 10+ years ago), and even in those extreme cases they still work most of the time.

Having a fan blow on the card (somehow) will likely do almost as much good as upgrading the heatsink, without the risk of damage. I have also considered using a good adhesive to add heatsinks to the voltage regulators. I have actually seen more Voodoo 3's with PCB discoloration behind the regulator than behind the main chip.

Now for some blitting from the back buffer.

Reply 7 of 9, by darry

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Ozzuneoj wrote on 2021-03-08, 07:38:

I would not bother trying to remove a heatsink on a Voodoo 3 with the intent of upgrading it. As has been stated, the epoxy used is insanely tough. Remember, that chip is soldered to the board. If any of the joints are less than perfect, prying on the heatsink may break them and kill the card.

Also, these cards often ran for 20+ years in arcade cabinets, caked in dust, ending up with burnt smelling and discolored PCBs from a lack of ventilation (system fans probably died 10+ years ago), and even in those extreme cases they still work most of the time.

Having a fan blow on the card (somehow) will likely do almost as much good as upgrading the heatsink, without the risk of damage. I have also considered using a good adhesive to add heatsinks to the voltage regulators. I have actually seen more Voodoo 3's with PCB discoloration behind the regulator than behind the main chip.

+1 to this . My thoughts, exactly .

Reply 8 of 9, by johnyept

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Thanks for the colorful explanations 😉 I guess it's better to follow your suggestions and either screw a small fan to the existing heatsink, or use a case with a side fan blowing air directly to the graphics card.

Retro-W95/NT4: ASUS P3B-F, PIII 550, 192MB, VD3 AGP + VD2 PCI, ESS1868F, 120GB
Retro-W98/2K: ASUS P4S8X-X, P4 2.66Ghz, 512MB, FX 5600 128MB, SB Live! SB0060, 80+320GB
Retro-WXP/7: ASUS P5G41T-M LX, XEON E5450, 6GB, GTS 450 1GB, 120GB SSD, 1TB sATA

Reply 9 of 9, by TechieDude

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Came here after trying it on my Voodoo 3 3000D to announce that it works well and there is in fact an advantage!
I replaced that pesky v.1.10 Dell OEM BIOS with a retail v.2.15.07-SD and I couldn't be happier with that.
Not only it now has a hardware ID that works with all Voodoo 3 drivers, even those on Win2k/XP, it even got rid of the flickering loading screen glitch that I couldn't figure out for YEARS. So, If you have a Dell Voodoo 3 3000, go ahead and do it. It will definitely work better. Just make sure it's still a Voodoo 3 3000 SDRAM model, preferably reference.

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EDIT: As for cooling, a Northwood-era socket 478 cooling fan fastened with zip ties works just fine for me. It should work just fine for you as well.