Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Discussion about old graphics cards, monitors and video related things.

Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby squareguy » 2016-10-22 @ 19:07

I realize there is no such thing as a perfect anything but...

I have been looking at video cards recently and noticed a few threads revisiting some of the cards I am looking at. It seems some real progress has been made with some of the S3 chips shortcomings. I am now taking a heavy look at the S3 Virge/DX again. It is a very interesting card in that it was shipped with both VBE 1.2 and VBE 2.0 BIOSes and the ability to change the BIOS used on an Intel 430 board without reflashing (just learned about that). That in addition to the new discovery and fix for gamma issues and the otherwise great S3 compatibility I am really looking for a high end 4MB S3 Virge/DX card for myself. I am planning on using it in a 'Time Machine' build consisting of an ASUS TXP4-X ATX motherboard with Intel 430TX chipset, 32-128MB SDRAM, AMD K6-2/3+ at whatever frequency I find, a modified YMF-719 ISA sound card, possibly an A3D Vortex2 PCI sound card and of course either a Voodoo1 or Voodoo2 PCI 3D graphics card.

So, what high end S3 Virge/DX cards exist?

Hercules Terminator GB3610P
Some type of Number Nine card
others?

Other thoughts and comments?

http://gona.mactar.hu/DOS_TESTS/
viewtopic.php?p=502235#p502235
viewtopic.php?f=46&t=50340&p=533454&hilit=trio64v#p533454

Sorry, I don't have all my links available at the moment

I want to give a big thinks for everyone that shares information like this!
Gateway 2000 Case and 200-Watt PSU
Intel SE440BX-2 Motherboard
Intel Pentium III 450 CPU
Micron 384MB SDRAM (3x128)
Compaq Voodoo3 3500 TV Graphics Card
Turtle Beach Santa Cruz Sound Card
Western Digital 7200-RPM, 8MB-Cache, 160GB Hard Drive
Windows 98 SE
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby squareguy » 2016-10-22 @ 20:03

Thanks James, that's one I missed
Gateway 2000 Case and 200-Watt PSU
Intel SE440BX-2 Motherboard
Intel Pentium III 450 CPU
Micron 384MB SDRAM (3x128)
Compaq Voodoo3 3500 TV Graphics Card
Turtle Beach Santa Cruz Sound Card
Western Digital 7200-RPM, 8MB-Cache, 160GB Hard Drive
Windows 98 SE
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby kanecvr » 2016-10-22 @ 20:43

This might help:

viewtopic.php?f=46&t=50383

I have a couple of good S3 cards, made by Aopen and ELSA.
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby boxpressed » 2016-10-22 @ 20:54

Don't forget the 8MB STB Velocity 3D using the Virge VX. Extra memory is pretty much useless for games, but it looks cool.

Here are some benches:

http://vintage3d.org/virge.php

P1120476.JPG
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby squareguy » 2016-10-22 @ 22:39

Kanecvr, thanks for link!

boxpressed, believe it or not that card came in the first computer I bought. Late 1997, Gateway 2000 Penium 200MMX. I spent the extra money for the 8MB version but of course it was overkill. That was the system I had my first Voodoo1 in too.
Gateway 2000 Case and 200-Watt PSU
Intel SE440BX-2 Motherboard
Intel Pentium III 450 CPU
Micron 384MB SDRAM (3x128)
Compaq Voodoo3 3500 TV Graphics Card
Turtle Beach Santa Cruz Sound Card
Western Digital 7200-RPM, 8MB-Cache, 160GB Hard Drive
Windows 98 SE
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby squareguy » 2016-10-23 @ 00:49

I eluded to it but I didn't expressly state it, having a card with official VBE 1.2 and official VBE 2.0 BIOS makes me think that they would be extremely compatible without TSR's and a lot of utilities that might need to be configured for each game. Just a thought I had. You can tell what I mean by looking at the two DX cards on the DOS VGA compatibility page.
Gateway 2000 Case and 200-Watt PSU
Intel SE440BX-2 Motherboard
Intel Pentium III 450 CPU
Micron 384MB SDRAM (3x128)
Compaq Voodoo3 3500 TV Graphics Card
Turtle Beach Santa Cruz Sound Card
Western Digital 7200-RPM, 8MB-Cache, 160GB Hard Drive
Windows 98 SE
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2016-10-23 @ 00:54

boxpressed wrote:Don't forget the 8MB STB Velocity 3D using the Virge VX. Extra memory is pretty much useless for games, but it looks cool.

Here are some benches:

http://vintage3d.org/virge.php

P1120476.JPG

I have one of those minus the memory expansion. Its a nice card. Seems to be very high quality. I like the way it looks. Though the tantalum capacitors are a bit of an oddity for a card from 1996. If you get one that looks like it hasn't been used at all or in a very long time, keep an eye on it the first time you turn it on.
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby squareguy » 2016-10-23 @ 04:01

Well I downloaded several Virge/DX BIOS files and opened them up, they all mentioned 86C375 and 86C385. I am assuming that the Virge/DX and Virge/GX are identical in most respects. I believe I found the only difference here http://vintage3d.org/virgedx.php stating that the GX added the ability to use SDRAM.
Gateway 2000 Case and 200-Watt PSU
Intel SE440BX-2 Motherboard
Intel Pentium III 450 CPU
Micron 384MB SDRAM (3x128)
Compaq Voodoo3 3500 TV Graphics Card
Turtle Beach Santa Cruz Sound Card
Western Digital 7200-RPM, 8MB-Cache, 160GB Hard Drive
Windows 98 SE
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby squareguy » 2016-10-23 @ 13:39

I love this page http://gona.mactar.hu/DOS_TESTS/ but it would be really cool if BIOS versions were added
Gateway 2000 Case and 200-Watt PSU
Intel SE440BX-2 Motherboard
Intel Pentium III 450 CPU
Micron 384MB SDRAM (3x128)
Compaq Voodoo3 3500 TV Graphics Card
Turtle Beach Santa Cruz Sound Card
Western Digital 7200-RPM, 8MB-Cache, 160GB Hard Drive
Windows 98 SE
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby squareguy » 2016-10-23 @ 23:57

Well I'm going to give this card a try. Dell OEM built by STB. 4MB S3 Virge\GX.

A quick test in DOS playing software Quake looks good and the build quality looks pretty good.

IMG_0433.jpg
Gateway 2000 Case and 200-Watt PSU
Intel SE440BX-2 Motherboard
Intel Pentium III 450 CPU
Micron 384MB SDRAM (3x128)
Compaq Voodoo3 3500 TV Graphics Card
Turtle Beach Santa Cruz Sound Card
Western Digital 7200-RPM, 8MB-Cache, 160GB Hard Drive
Windows 98 SE
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby Gona » 2017-2-18 @ 13:27

squareguy wrote:I love this page http://gona.mactar.hu/DOS_TESTS/ but it would be really cool if BIOS versions were added

Thanks. Yes BIOS versions are important in some cases. First I have seen with Matrox Millennium that BIOS versions can count. V2.5 (838-15) and older bioses are faster in DOS than V2.7 (838-17) and later versions. I have played with Matrox Millennium II BIOS versions too but was no difference in compatibility nor in speed so I not shown the versions. Later I will retest Mystique with different BIOS versions too.
In last year December with Voodoo4/5 also I have found again that bios versions can count, so I have made more entries wit bios versions.
Some cases the manucacturer (modification in bios made by a manufacturer) is more important than bios version for example Virge family cards are really good in compatibility but Diamond Virge cards have serious display problem (flashing) with Commander Keen 4; 5; 6 and Keen Dreams. I have recently added Diamond Virge and Virge/DX to the page.
My Virge/GX is the Compaq one and my GX2 is an Apac. If I get another GX or GX2 I will test it.
I have filled some bios versions (including all DX bios versions).
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby clueless1 » 2017-2-18 @ 14:45

Gona wrote:Some cases the manucacturer (modification in bios made by a manufacturer) is more important than bios version for example Virge family cards are really good in compatibility but Diamond Virge cards have serious display problem (flashing) with Commander Keen 4; 5; 6 and Keen Dreams. I have recently added Diamond Virge and Virge/DX to the page.

Interesting. I just recently tested a bunch of PCI cards, and out of all my S3 cards, the Diamond Virge DX was the only one that had VBE2.0 built-in. It's my only Diamond-branded S3, so I don't know if that was something they did to all their S3 cards or not. But I find it interesting that my Diamond S3 has VBE2.0 and your Diamond S3 cards have display problems where other S3 cards do not. Could their implementation of VBE2.0 be responsible for the display issues you see?
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby feipoa » 2017-2-18 @ 20:50

squareguy wrote:Well I'm going to give this card a try. Dell OEM built by STB. 4MB S3 Virge\GX.

A quick test in DOS playing software Quake looks good and the build quality looks pretty good.

IMG_0433.jpg

I have this one. It is a nice card with a beautiful display quality. It is probably my favourite PCI S3 card. Did you settle on this card?
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby Gona » 2017-2-18 @ 22:09

clueless1 wrote:Interesting. I just recently tested a bunch of PCI cards, and out of all my S3 cards, the Diamond Virge DX was the only one that had VBE2.0 built-in. It's my only Diamond-branded S3, so I don't know if that was something they did to all their S3 cards or not. But I find it interesting that my Diamond S3 has VBE2.0 and your Diamond S3 cards have display problems where other S3 cards do not. Could their implementation of VBE2.0 be responsible for the display issues you see?
No, thete is no relationship with Diamond's VBE 2.0 implementation beause the Diamond's Virge and Virge/VX are also have this problem and these cards are VBE 1.2 cards.
Here is the problem:
https://youtu.be/D9r5OtP5KXM
Diamond has quickly switch to the VBE 2.0 because my Diamond Virge/DX card has older bios (1997-Mar-12 with VBE 2.0) than Hercules bios (1997-Nov-06 with VBE 1.2). I have 4 different card and only the Hercules has VBE 1.2.
The problem in the Diamond bios because now I have tested the Diamond card with replaced bios (reference S3 bios 2.01.07) and Commander Keen 4 works without problem (and put Diamond bios chip to the Ariso card and the problem is occur on the Aristo card).
Diamond cards are great, but for comparibility I recommend to use reference S3 bios versions.
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2017-2-18 @ 23:57

Gona, just like to say that your work is really appreciated! Thank you!
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby Gona » 2017-2-19 @ 02:09

PhilsComputerLab wrote:Gona, just like to say that your work is really appreciated! Thank you!
Thank you very much Phil! :)
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby wbc » 2017-2-20 @ 17:09

S3 ViRGE/DX (or /GX) with BIOS version 2.01.07, fast 35ns memory and UniVBE or S3VBEFIX -> best choice for DOS games and demos with decent VGA and VESA compatibility ;).
Trio3D/2X PCI (AGP cards are pure crap :)) are also pretty good (supports 24bpp modes in VBE 2.0 out of box, nice for very obscure DOS demos with oddball VESA modes) and often run even faster that ViRGEs but does not support 32bpp in Windows and have glitches with Quake 360x??? modes (fixable by S3VBEFIX as well).
Matrox, Tseng, ATI...they are sometimes even faster that S3 and have better image quality but VGA\VESA compatibility is far far weaker :(
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby Gona » 2017-2-22 @ 22:31

wbc wrote:S3 ViRGE/DX (or /GX) with BIOS version 2.01.07, fast 35ns memory and UniVBE or S3VBEFIX -> best choice for DOS games and demos with decent VGA and VESA compatibility ;).
Trio3D/2X PCI (AGP cards are pure crap :)) are also pretty good (supports 24bpp modes in VBE 2.0 out of box, nice for very obscure DOS demos with oddball VESA modes) and often run even faster that ViRGEs but does not support 32bpp in Windows and have glitches with Quake 360x??? modes (fixable by S3VBEFIX as well).
Matrox, Tseng, ATI...they are sometimes even faster that S3 and have better image quality but VGA\VESA compatibility is far far weaker :(

I really agree.
S3 ViRGE/DX and ViRGE/GX are with BIOS version 2.01.07 (or version that based on 2.01.07) are the best choise for DOS games/demos compatibility.
And S3VBEFIX is a great utility special thenks for it wbc!
I have added S3VBEFIX to my page.
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Re: Most Bestest PCI DOS \ Early Windows Video Card?

Postby bjt » 2017-2-23 @ 12:12

Yep Nitro 3D PCI works great, I ran one for a while. It was one of the only cards that worked with Terminator: Skynet's high res modes.

These days I run a much newer GF2 MX400 PCI which is also surprisingly compatible but not to the same degree as the Nitro 3D.
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