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S3 AGP Cards (and possibly others) Too Bright

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Reply 20 of 156, by Agent of the BSoD

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Mine doesn't even look like that, and doesn't have that same BIOS chip setup either.

http://i.imgur.com/Odn49Qv.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/tprpaBy.jpg?1

From when I checked the specs using NSSI, it reported a BIOS version of 4.10.05.

I am also looking to pick up a CRT soon, once I can find one nearby (there really aren't any around here, unfortunately). Once I'm in possession of one, I'll check all three of my cards again and see if they do this on a CRT as well, and I bet they will. (I'd love it if they proved me wrong, though, especially with the first GX2 I got as it has the best signal quality, a GVC Media Tech manufactured card)

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Reply 21 of 156, by Totempole

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I've experienced the exact same issue with S3 Trio64V+ PCI cards. Also found the same issue with both of my CT6610 3DLabs Permedia 2 cards. I can confirm that the brightness increase definitely happens on CRT as well, since I only really use CRT screens for my old systems. You can counter it pretty easily with a CRT though, by just reducing the brightness.

My Retro Gaming PC:
Pentium III 450MHz Katmai Slot 1
Transcend 256MB PC133
Gigabyte GA-6BXC
MSI Geforce 2 MX400 AGP
Ensoniq ES1371 PCI
Sound Blaster AWE64 ISA

Reply 22 of 156, by swaaye

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I wonder if it could be related to TV vs. PC RGB/YUV levels. If you don't run full range RGB into a PC monitor, it makes black look like grey just as this looks.

Reply 23 of 156, by PhilsComputerLab

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Could these cards be meant for a different type of computer that uses different gamma? Mac or something else maybe?

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Reply 24 of 156, by Totempole

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I suspect that some manufacturers did this to compensate for dim CRT monitors. Many other cards of the time like the ATI Rage had colour and gamma correction options included with the Windows driver software. These S3 cards and some others seem to take it a step further by adjusting the gamma from POST already.

I've noticed that Voodoo cards adjust gamma when entering 3DFX accelerated mode. Not sure if this happens with all of them, but it happens to all of the ones I've used.

My Retro Gaming PC:
Pentium III 450MHz Katmai Slot 1
Transcend 256MB PC133
Gigabyte GA-6BXC
MSI Geforce 2 MX400 AGP
Ensoniq ES1371 PCI
Sound Blaster AWE64 ISA

Reply 26 of 156, by 133MHz

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I have a Pine Technologies SiS 305-based video card with the same problem - atrocious black level, but I only noticed it when using LCD monitors. The card is such a POS it wouldn't surprise me to find out that it's got inadequate output circuitry.

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Reply 27 of 156, by kanecvr

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We identified the problem - now we need a brave soul who is willing to yank out the EPROM off a good card witch doesn't manifest this problem and stick it on a card that does - of course, the cards need to have the exact same chipset for this to work.

If the vbios changes the card's color output, then this is a relatively easy fix. If it doesn't, we know it's a hardware issue.

Reply 28 of 156, by alexanrs

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My newest VIRGE has this problem as well... someone mentioned an S3 Color utility to correct it in Windows, but I couldn't find it... is it just for later S3 Savage cards?

Reply 29 of 156, by leileilol

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I recently tried a PCI S3 Trio64v+ on a LCD screen and I do experience the "too bright" symptom described. Thought i'd like to let this thread know.

Was on my 486 system FYI

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Reply 30 of 156, by GeorgeMan

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ALL of my AGP S3 cards had this issue.
S3 Trio 3D and S3 Trio 3D/2X.

Most of the PCI cards also, some Trio64V+ and a couple of Virge/DX.

BUT, a PCI S3 Vision 968 with 4MB VRAM and IBM DAC, from 1995, has super-sharp and crystal-clear output, even at 1280x1024. Colors are also great. Can easily compare it with a Matrox from that or a later era.

Retro1: Athlon XP 3200+ @Arctic cooler | ASUS A7V600 | Radeon 9800XXL 128MB | SB Audigy 2 ZS | 160GB IDE HDD | Win98SE & XP
Retro2: under construction with a PIII 933 or a Tualatin Celeron 1200 and a GF2 GTS 32MB

Reply 31 of 156, by swaaye

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S3 Vision 968 cards with VRAM cost similar to a Matrox card so it should be good quality.

The Trio, Virge, and Savage chips tend to be on cheaply-built cards.

Reply 35 of 156, by GeorgeMan

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Maybe it's just the default gamma calibration.
I don't think all of these cards were for something else and not standard PC usage.

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Retro2: under construction with a PIII 933 or a Tualatin Celeron 1200 and a GF2 GTS 32MB

Reply 36 of 156, by alexanrs

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GeorgeMan wrote:

Maybe it's just the default gamma calibration.
I don't think all of these cards were for something else and not standard PC usage.

Yeah, but I can't find any tools to change the gamma settings, even if it is just in Windows. Wich is a shame, as this card is doing a much better job at everything else than the Trident it replaced.

Reply 38 of 156, by elianda

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I wouldn't go so far to call this property a problem. The simplest approach would be to measure the voltage on R,G,B for a black and white screen and compare it. Most likely a simple multimeter would do the job.

Every screen has a brightness/contrast knobs which is basically offset/gain to scale the voltage between black and white to the dynamic range of the screen output. So if a card delivers a brighter image, this just means you have to adjust the knobs on your screen to make black black.

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Reply 39 of 156, by alexanrs

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elianda wrote:

Every screen has a brightness/contrast knobs which is basically offset/gain to scale the voltage between black and white to the dynamic range of the screen output. So if a card delivers a brighter image, this just means you have to adjust the knobs on your screen to make black black.

In CRTs, yes, it is simple, but on LCD panels the brightness controls only affect the intensity of the backlight, so there is no way to improve it.