VOGONS


First post, by Weasel_Pleasel

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I have a Pentium MMX at 200 MHz and want to know what video card would be a good fit for it.
The mobo only has pci and isa slots, no agp. Also, I don't want to break the bank on this, so no Voodoo cards.
I want to play games like Quake at a decent frame rate if possible.
I have an S3 Virge/GX, but from what I understand it's 3d performance is lacking.
The main thing I want to avoid is a massive cpu bottleneck. For example, could I really take advantage of a geforce 6200 or FX5500 with my cpu?

Reply 1 of 47, by rmay635703

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The Virge is respectable enough for dos gaming.

For 3D...
I don’t thinks it’s a matter of taking advantage
It’s a case of
1. Do you readily have access to it
2. Do the available drivers work with the software you wish to use.

As a nostalgia factor I would buy a Voodoo 1,2,3 or rampage etc mainly because I couldn’t afford one in the day, then couple with an appropriate 2d card (if needed)

For me I have been eying a cheap Matrox Parhelia just because literally no one likes the things and uses them for anything besides a static display.

What is even stranger a used vintage Parhelia is like $5 but they still sell new for $350, god only knows what for.

Sadly the Parhelia is in that strange place where you have to run 9x games under XP because there are zero drivers.

Given when they released this card never made sense which is why I would like one

Reply 2 of 47, by Weasel_Pleasel

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rmay635703 wrote on 2020-12-29, 00:36:
For 3D... I don’t thinks it’s a matter of taking advantage It’s a case of 1. Do you readily have access to it 2. Do the availa […]
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For 3D...
I don’t thinks it’s a matter of taking advantage
It’s a case of
1. Do you readily have access to it
2. Do the available drivers work with the software you wish to use.

The ATI Rage cards and the Radeon 7000 are the easiest for me to find.
The system is currently running 98SE, which has drivers available for those cards.
I don't plan on running any older dos games, so drivers shouldn't be an issue.

Reply 3 of 47, by ODwilly

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A TNT 2 m64 in PCI would be a good card if you could find one cheap.

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Reply 5 of 47, by GigAHerZ

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I have a GeForce 2 MX-400 PCI in my PMMX-266MHz and it's plenty and more - everything is bottlenecking on CPU and PCI bandwidth level. So you can put the resolution as high as you want with AA and everything, but once you touch something, that takes bandwidth (more detailed models, bigger textures, etc) you get a big hit to the performance.

"640K ought to be enough for anybody." - And i intend to get every last bit out of it even after loading every damn driver!

Reply 6 of 47, by bloodem

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Unfortunately, the honest truth is that earlier Voodoo cards are a perfect fit for such a slow platform.
And, when it comes to 3D performance, I don't think there are any other viable and much cheaper options out there. A PCI Riva TNT or TNT2 M64 are also decent (although slower and much less compatible than Voodoo cards - this was a period in time when Glide was king), however even these cards are usually still pretty expensive... so might as well just go with the Voodoo and be done with it.
Regarding newer cards such as the PCI versions of GeForce FX 5200, I never tested them, but from what I understood many of them only work on motherboards with an existing AGP slot and will refuse to run on PCI-only motherboards.

GigAHerZ wrote on 2020-12-29, 18:48:

I have a GeForce 2 MX-400 PCI in my PMMX-266MHz and it's plenty and more - everything is bottlenecking on CPU and PCI bandwidth level. So you can put the resolution as high as you want with AA and everything, but once you touch something, that takes bandwidth (more detailed models, bigger textures, etc) you get a big hit to the performance.

This is not entirely accurate 😀 Yes, the CPU is the bottleneck, of course, but some cards (drivers) and APIs (such as Glide) are more lightweight, so they manage to squeeze more performance out of these very slow platforms.
Just out of curiosity (since I don't own a PCI GeForce 2 MX), can you tell me how many FPS do you get in GLQuake & Quake 2 timedemos? I'm curious to see how much of a difference the hardware T&L (well, specifically the "T") makes on a Pentium MMX 😀

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Reply 7 of 47, by Weasel_Pleasel

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bloodem wrote on 2020-12-29, 18:55:

Unfortunately, the honest truth is that earlier Voodoo cards are a perfect fit for such a slow platform.
And, when it comes to 3D performance, I don't think there are any other viable and much cheaper options out there. A PCI Riva TNT or TNT2 M64 are also decent (although slower and much less compatible than Voodoo cards - this was a period in time when Glide was king), however even these cards are usually still pretty expensive... so might as well just go with the Voodoo and be done with it.
Regarding newer cards such as the PCI versions of GeForce FX 5200, I never tested them, but from what I understood many of them only work on motherboards with an existing AGP slot and will refuse to run on PCI-only motherboards.

Should I just keep the system 2D and early 3D (like Doom and Duke3D)? If that's the case, what card should I use?
It has an integrated Rage II chip, maybe that'll be good enough for those older games.
I got the system for free and don't want to invest a ton more into it, so no Voodoo, at least not now.
Quake at good fps was more pushing the system as far as I could with as little money as possible.

Reply 8 of 47, by ernestb86

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Weasel_Pleasel wrote on 2020-12-29, 00:18:
I have a Pentium MMX at 200 MHz and want to know what video card would be a good fit for it. The mobo only has pci and isa slots […]
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I have a Pentium MMX at 200 MHz and want to know what video card would be a good fit for it.
The mobo only has pci and isa slots, no agp. Also, I don't want to break the bank on this, so no Voodoo cards.
I want to play games like Quake at a decent frame rate if possible.
I have an S3 Virge/GX, but from what I understand it's 3d performance is lacking.
The main thing I want to avoid is a massive cpu bottleneck. For example, could I really take advantage of a geforce 6200 or FX5500 with my cpu?

I do have a Pentium MMX 200 with a PCI only PCChips 538m with PCI only and used to have a Cirrus Logic 1MB. At least from my experience when i had to upgrade the video card i went for a voodoo banshee as the prices for other voodoo cards were quite higher at that time (nowadays it seems they have gone higher). If you can grab a voodoo 3 or banshee cheap enough it'll be a good match IMO. Otherwise going for a PCI Geforce 2 MX or Geforce 4 MX could be quite a good match as well. An FX 5200/5500 PCI could be nice too, there is an auction site that sells new ones but i don't know how good are these to recommend (actually i'm currently waiting one to test it out on my old P1 mmx and a PCI only P III motherboard).

I think the FX versions are kind of an overkill for a P1 MMX as you could probably get a CPU bottleneck from a very demanding game, such as Quake III for eg. At least from what i do have which is similar to your computer, i'd stay with the GF 2/2MX/4MX range which will be more than enough for that cpu. By the way what motherboard are you using with that cpu? What type and how much ram will you be running along with that cpu as well?

Reply 9 of 47, by GigAHerZ

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bloodem wrote on 2020-12-29, 18:55:
GigAHerZ wrote on 2020-12-29, 18:48:

I have a GeForce 2 MX-400 PCI in my PMMX-266MHz and it's plenty and more - everything is bottlenecking on CPU and PCI bandwidth level. So you can put the resolution as high as you want with AA and everything, but once you touch something, that takes bandwidth (more detailed models, bigger textures, etc) you get a big hit to the performance.

This is not entirely accurate 😀 Yes, the CPU is the bottleneck, of course, but some cards (drivers) and APIs (such as Glide) are more lightweight, so they manage to squeeze more performance out of these very slow platforms.
Just out of curiosity (since I don't own a PCI GeForce 2 MX), can you tell me how many FPS do you get in GLQuake & Quake 2 timedemos? I'm curious to see how much of a difference the hardware T&L (well, specifically the "T") makes on a Pentium MMX 😀

Fresh install of winquake, that include glquake, and i run the glquake, with default settings the result was 55.0 fps. Version info in the corner of console shows "(GL 0.95) 1.09". Resolution seems to be 640x480.

EDIT: Had to find an update to GL 0.97 to be able to successfully change resolution.
1280x1024x16 timedemo runs at 30.3 fps.

"640K ought to be enough for anybody." - And i intend to get every last bit out of it even after loading every damn driver!

Reply 10 of 47, by Weasel_Pleasel

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ernestb86 wrote on 2020-12-29, 22:35:

By the way what motherboard are you using with that cpu? What type and how much ram will you be running along with that cpu as well?

The system is a pre-built Gateway 2000 p5-133, but was upgraded to the MMX cpu.
It has an AA 661656-203 motherboard (That's the only code that brings up pictures of the correct motherboard, idk if that's what the model is).
To my surprise it had 128MB of SDRAM, which seems like a lot. It came from a university professor, so maybe it was upgraded in the past.

Reply 11 of 47, by ernestb86

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Weasel_Pleasel wrote on 2020-12-29, 23:23:
The system is a pre-built Gateway 2000 p5-133, but was upgraded to the MMX cpu. It has an AA 661656-203 motherboard (That's the […]
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ernestb86 wrote on 2020-12-29, 22:35:

By the way what motherboard are you using with that cpu? What type and how much ram will you be running along with that cpu as well?

The system is a pre-built Gateway 2000 p5-133, but was upgraded to the MMX cpu.
It has an AA 661656-203 motherboard (That's the only code that brings up pictures of the correct motherboard, idk if that's what the model is).
To my surprise it had 128MB of SDRAM, which seems like a lot. It came from a university professor, so maybe it was upgraded in the past.

That's a great motherboard and 128mb of SDRAM will be plenty for a P1 build. I think based on GigAHerZ replies a Geforce 2 MX or a 4 MX on PCI will be enough for early 3D gaming and won't hurt your bank account.

Reply 12 of 47, by GigAHerZ

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My PMMX-266 with GF2MX400 PCI 32MB.

Quake 2 v3.20
Software 640x480: 12,8fps
Default OpenGL 640x480: 33,2fps
Default OpenGL 1280x960: 30,2fps

"640K ought to be enough for anybody." - And i intend to get every last bit out of it even after loading every damn driver!

Reply 14 of 47, by Errius

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I echo what others said about Voodoo cards. This really is the ideal system for one. They really don't belong in P2 or P3 machines.

I have a 200 MHz MMX rig which has a S3 Trio64v+ paired with a Voodoo2

It is, significantly, the only computer in my collection capable of running POD (1997) without glitches (mostly). I keep it around primarily to play this one game.

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Reply 15 of 47, by bloodem

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GigAHerZ wrote on 2020-12-29, 23:47:
My PMMX-266 with GF2MX400 PCI 32MB. […]
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My PMMX-266 with GF2MX400 PCI 32MB.

Quake 2 v3.20
Software 640x480: 12,8fps
Default OpenGL 640x480: 33,2fps
Default OpenGL 1280x960: 30,2fps

Thanks! Did you disable VSYNC? If not, disable it, you should probably see an FPS improvement
Anyway, so it seems that even with help from Hardware T&L, when it comes to performance on the Pentium MMX, the Voodoo cards are still way ahead.

My results with a Voodoo 3 2000 PCI & a Pentium MMX 233 @ 266 MHz:

GLQuake 512x384: 103 FPS
GLQuake 640x480: 102 FPS
GLQuake 800x600: 102 FPS
GLQuake 1024x768: 84 FPS (at this resolution we are now GPU bound, even with a Voodoo 3)
Quake 2 512x384: 46 FPS
Quake 2 640x480: 46 FPS
Quake 2 800x600: 46 FPS
Quake 2 1024x768: 45 FPS (things are bit different in Quake 2, we are CPU bound at all these resolutions)

With a single Voodoo 2:

GLQuake 512x384: 103 FPS
GLQuake 640x480: 98 FPS (we are starting to hit a GPU bottleneck even at 640 x 480!)
GLQuake 800x600: 71 FPS (completely GPU bound)
Quake 2 512x384: 46 FPS
Quake 2 640x480: 45 FPS
Quake 2 800x600: 45 FPS

With a Voodoo Banshee PCI:

GLQuake 512x384: 101 FPS (apparently even at this low resolution, we're a bit GPU bottlenecked with the Banshee).
GLQuake 640x480: 64 FPS (completely GPU bound at 640 x 480 on a Banshee!)
GLQuake 800x600: 42 FPS
GLQuake 1024x768: 31 FPS
Quake 2 512x384: 46 FPS
Quake 2 640x480: 45 FPS
Quake 2 800x600: 42 FPS (starting to see a GPU bottleneck)
Quake 2 1024x768: 28 FPS (completely GPU bound)

Conclusions:
1. Voodoo cards manage to extract every last bit of performance out of these old platforms (that's why people loved them back in the day, and they still do!).
2. "Overkill" is a relative term - in some games at higher resolutions, you can be GPU bound even with a Voodoo 3.
3. The banshee quickly becomes a bottleneck, however it has other advantages going for it (such as image quality + 2D/3D on a single card), so I'll continue to prefer and recommend it for late Pentium MMX builds.

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Reply 16 of 47, by appiah4

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It really depends on what you want to do with it. Good DOS experience, vs good Windows experience vs good 3D Acceleration are usually pick two out of three.

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Reply 17 of 47, by chinny22

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Which would you say are your most demanding games?
Quake for example wont benefit much upgrading from the onboard chip but GL Quake will

Problem is a 200MMX becomes a bottleneck rather quickly for 3d titles no matter what video card you have.
Its not to say performance gains aren't to be had, just that they are very limited and you say your on a budget.

Reply 18 of 47, by GigAHerZ

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bloodem wrote on 2020-12-30, 08:08:
GigAHerZ wrote on 2020-12-29, 23:47:
My PMMX-266 with GF2MX400 PCI 32MB. […]
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My PMMX-266 with GF2MX400 PCI 32MB.

Quake 2 v3.20
Software 640x480: 12,8fps
Default OpenGL 640x480: 33,2fps
Default OpenGL 1280x960: 30,2fps

Thanks! Did you disable VSYNC? If not, disable it, you should probably see an FPS improvement

Quake itself reports vid_wait as 0, so i assume the vsync is disabled in GLQuake?
Quake 2, i have set it to "sync every frame : no".

It is quite reasonable to conclude that while glide may be more efficient for the cpu, then with overkill opengl gpu, it doesn't matter on what resolution you play, as the result is pretty much the same. (Quake 2 results illustrate it perfectly)

EDIT: Found nvidia settings for opengl, where vsync was "On by default".
So now.
GLQuake 1280x1024: 37,5fps
Quake 2 1280x960: 30,6

GLQuake improved somewhat, Quake 2 is the same, so this is probably it - GLQuake was vsync'ing before...

"640K ought to be enough for anybody." - And i intend to get every last bit out of it even after loading every damn driver!

Reply 19 of 47, by bloodem

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GigAHerZ wrote on 2020-12-30, 10:25:

It is quite reasonable to conclude that while glide may be more efficient for the cpu, then with overkill opengl gpu, it doesn't matter on what resolution you play, as the result is pretty much the same. (Quake 2 results illustrate it perfectly)

Well, as always, it depends on the game. Even today, some games are more CPU intensive than others (so you can get away with a slower CPU with fewer cores).
Quake 2 is a title that loves CPUs with a fast FPU (and, clearly, the MMX is not quite an FPU monster).
But overall, as can be seen from the results above, the Voodoo cards are in a league of their own.

GigAHerZ wrote on 2020-12-30, 10:25:
EDIT: Found nvidia settings for opengl, where vsync was "On by default". So now. GLQuake 1280x1024: 37,5fps Quake 2 1280x960: 30 […]
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EDIT: Found nvidia settings for opengl, where vsync was "On by default".
So now.
GLQuake 1280x1024: 37,5fps
Quake 2 1280x960: 30,6

GLQuake improved somewhat, Quake 2 is the same, so this is probably it - GLQuake was vsync'ing before...

In Quake 2, it seems like you might be hitting some other bottleneck at that very high resolution (in your previous benchmark, you were getting 33 FPS at 640 x 480). When checking CPU bottlenecks, it's better to test a lower resolution too, in order to see if you get any improvement after disabling VSYNC.

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