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Why is Voodoo 3 so popular?

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First post, by flametwist

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Hey folks, I'm building a Windows 98 PC and I'm wondering: why is the Voodoo 3 so popular? Thank you for your answer.

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Reply 1 of 22, by darry

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In a nutshell :
- Good for 3D games until 1999/2000 (supports Glide , Direct 3D and MiniGL)
- Good DOS VGA performance and compatibility for older games
- Good VGA output quality
- 3dfx product ( collectible)

Reply 2 of 22, by Dochartaigh

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They're also usually cheaper than a Voodoo2 12mb (the more common Voodoo3's at least), cheaper than a Voodoo2 + regular video card (since the Voodoo2 can't be used by itself), and way cheaper than buying 2x Voodoo2 for SLI (which are roughly equivalent to a s single Voodoo3 for Glide)....

The Voodoo3 just isn't anywhere near as cool as the original SLI video card pair IMO though. For my personal setup, I also didn't want to get a Voodoo3 because I wanted to be able to compare my 2x Voodoo2's in SLI compared to a GeForce card of that same era to see what all the hype was about - and that's not as easily done if you're running a Voodoo3 VGA card and a GeForce VGA card - I don't even know if you can run two sets of drivers at once and probably have to manually switch them out which would be a pain.

Reply 4 of 22, by darry

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kolderman wrote on 2020-03-23, 22:35:

Downside: they run hot! Cooling is essential.

True, and not just the GPU chip itself. The voltage regulator on my Voodoo 3 3000 gets finger-burning hot without additional active cooloing .

Reply 5 of 22, by aaronkatrini

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It is a very good card for its era. But be prepared to pay a premium for it. As a good cheap substitute I could recommend the Gf2 Mx.
There is a YouTube Channel called Philscomputerlab that did a series called Best Gpu for Super Socket 7 CPUs, which applies to Win98 gaming era. He goes in depth for each company and then *spoiler alert* the V3 wins.

Reply 6 of 22, by derSammler

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For SS7, a Voodoo Banshee is actually way better, as even the fastest SS7 system can not fully utilize a Voodoo3 (you'd need 1 GHz+ for that).

Having said that, I personally don't agree that it was a good card for its time. It's more or less a V2 SLI with a 2D core in a single-chip solution. Still only 16-bit in 3D mode, no hardware T&L, and speed-wise just on-par with the competition. The only advantage is Glide support. If you build a system fast enough to run nGlide, any other card from 1999 onwards is probably a better choice.

From all 3dfx cards I own, the V3 cards are the only ones I'm not using in any build.

Last edited by derSammler on 2020-03-24, 10:40. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 7 of 22, by The Serpent Rider

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It is a very good card for its era.

Voodoo 3 was very lazy card for its era and fall from grace very quickly.

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Reply 8 of 22, by chinny22

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I tend to agree with the last few posts
If your new to the hobby I wouldn't worry about Voodoo till you "know you need it"
Support for Glide games are the selling point for any 3dfx product. Better/cheaper ATI or Nvidia cards exist for everything else.

Reply 9 of 22, by Miphee

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Because it's all about the nVidia - 3dfx war and the unfortunate demise of the latter. Back in those days you couldn't buy a PC magazine without lengthy articles about the latest gossip about these two.
Finally 3dfx crumbled and left a trail of rare&mysterious collector's items (V5 6000, Rampage, V4, Banshee).
To this day if a 3dfx product shows up on my local auction site retro enthusiasts fight tooth and nail to get it because it's 3dfx.
They want a piece of history, that simple.
Not because they were great products (many of those were inferior to nVidia's offerings, especially the V3) but because 3dfx funked up so bad it went bankrupt in 8 years.
It was shocking to see such a historic company go that divided gamers for years.

Reply 10 of 22, by Asaki

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Mine was just something that was laying around, and I figured I'd play around with it. I love it for games that it was designed for...maybe it's just a placebo effect, but I feel like it has a different look to it in 3D applications, versus more modern cards, or wrappers.

It's also a great card for Thief 2 B)

Reply 11 of 22, by aaronkatrini

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derSammler wrote on 2020-03-24, 10:39:

For SS7, a Voodoo Banshee is actually way better, as even the fastest SS7 system can not fully utilize a Voodoo3 (you'd need 1 GHz+ for that).

Having said that, I personally don't agree that it was a good card for its time. It's more or less a V2 SLI with a 2D core in a single-chip solution. Still only 16-bit in 3D mode, no hardware T&L, and speed-wise just on-par with the competition. The only advantage is Glide support. If you build a system fast enough to run nGlide, any other card from 1999 onwards is probably a better choice.

From all 3dfx cards I own, the V3 cards are the only ones I'm not using in any build.

Cannot understand why the Banshee is better. It offers roughly half of the performance, and since prices are somewhat on par with the V3, IMO it makes no sense to go with a Banshee nowdays. Also the V3 doesn't use any AGP features making it very compatible even with motherboards that have bugs on their chipset from what I've heard. But since SS7 is not my cup of tea I cannot confirm this.
I prefer i440BX with a P2 and VIA based motherboards with P3, and V3 is a very good match for them.
Also the fact that offers 2D+SLI (that is 3 different cards!) in one single chip is impressive to me. Of course it runs hot and that is the only thing I don't like about them.
I have 3 working V3's in my collection, one I still use modded with a fan and 2 others, one being a backup and the other in my shelf for display.
It also offers "24-bit" colors, still not 32-bit but definitely better than 16-bit!
Yes, it offers no T&L, only the GF256 did at the time (correct me if I'm wrong) but that one doesn't support Glide, so you win some you lose some.
All thing considered the V3 is a very good card for the era IMO. 😀

Reply 12 of 22, by derSammler

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aaronkatrini wrote on 2020-03-24, 12:00:

Cannot understand why the Banshee is better. It offers roughly half of the performance

Because of exactly that. The V3 is faster, but you can make no use of it with SS7, as you are limited by CPU speed. A Banshee is not slower on SS7 and fits the CPU power much better. Also, at least in Germany, a Banshee is much easier to get and up to 50% cheaper than a V3.

aaronkatrini wrote on 2020-03-24, 12:00:

It also offers "24-bit" colors, still not 32-bit but definitely better than 16-bit!

No, it does not. 3D is 16-bit only with some post-filters added to blur out harsh gradients. I'm not talking about the 2D core being able to give you a 24-bit Windows desktop.

Last edited by derSammler on 2020-03-24, 12:10. Edited 2 times in total.

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Reply 14 of 22, by carlostex

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Good card but i was disappointed on how games can't use for VESA stuff. Tried several versions of UNIVBE and even that UNIVBEFIX or VESAFIX and still couldn't get games to work.

Same problem with the Banshee, so decided to settle ob integrated S3 Trio + a Voodoo 2.

This of course all in DOS, in Windows 98 it might be a great card.

Reply 15 of 22, by derSammler

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kolderman wrote on 2020-03-24, 12:07:

So more like a quarter of the performance.

No, because the missing second TMU only had an impact on speed if multi-texturing was used. And even then the result would not be 25% of a Voodoo3. In fact, the Banshee was often faster than a V2 due to it's higher memory speed for games using single-texturing only, so you can't compare it in such a simple way.

Half the speed is pretty much spot-on when compared to a V3 2000.

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Reply 16 of 22, by havli

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I agree Banshee performance is good enough for Socket 7 system. On the other hand, it runs rather hot, even more than V3 2000 for example. Banshee is 350nm GPU and V3 is 250nm.

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Reply 17 of 22, by Geon106

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I recently purchased a Voodoo3 2000 AGP and a bit part was nostalgia as it is what I had in my PC in 1999/2000. It is also often recommended by others for being great in DOS but also for games that support the GLIDE API

1993:A500
1995:A1200
1997:Apricot MS540|P/166|16M|Rage3D 2M
2000:PB 9533|P3/533|128M|Voodoo3 2000 16M
'04:Custom|P4/3G|1GB|NVIDIA 5700 256M
'07:Custom|AMDX2/3.2Ghz|4GB|8800 GTX
'11:Custom|i5 2500k|16G|AMD 7950
'16:Custom|i5 6600k|16G|NVIDIA 1080|SB AE-5

Reply 18 of 22, by SodaSuccubus

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IMO, 3DFX just has that magical "staple of the 90s computer" feel to it

Sure you could go with an NVidia/Radeon card in your retro rig and they'd perform just as good, if not much better. But Nvidia/Radeon also exist these days. 3DFX doesn't.
You just don't get that same warm "cool" nostalgia factor feeling out of an Nvidia/Radeon then you do a 3DFX.

Maybe its just because i was still a baby when 3DFX was at its peak, but GLIDE sure is hell is more interesting a video card format to me 😜

Voodoo 3 is nice simply just because its convinient. V2 SLI is allways gonna look sexy, but V3's are usually a bit cheaper, perform a little bit faster, and not to forget save you PCI slots vs an SLI config. Plus you get that nice 16mb of VRAM.

Reply 19 of 22, by candle_86

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SodaSuccubus wrote on 2020-03-26, 20:13:
IMO, 3DFX just has that magical "staple of the 90s computer" feel to it […]
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IMO, 3DFX just has that magical "staple of the 90s computer" feel to it

Sure you could go with an NVidia/Radeon card in your retro rig and they'd perform just as good, if not much better. But Nvidia/Radeon also exist these days. 3DFX doesn't.
You just don't get that same warm "cool" nostalgia factor feeling out of an Nvidia/Radeon then you do a 3DFX.

Maybe its just because i was still a baby when 3DFX was at its peak, but GLIDE sure is hell is more interesting a video card format to me 😜

Voodoo 3 is nice simply just because its convinient. V2 SLI is allways gonna look sexy, but V3's are usually a bit cheaper, perform a little bit faster, and not to forget save you PCI slots vs an SLI config. Plus you get that nice 16mb of VRAM.

Yes but that logic would mean you want cards that where utter garbage like a savage4.

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