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The "best" S3 Virge cards to buy?

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First post, by EvieSigma

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I know the Virge is not exactly the best graphics processor, especially for 3D things, but they're really common and I think one of the better Virges would do well for what I need (cheap half-decent graphics card for OEM systems with onboard graphics). The only problem is, I don't know anything about the Virge series. What are some of the good ones to go after? I figure any card with either 4MB onboard or provisions to expand to 4MB is probably towards the higher end but other than that I know nothing about them.

Reply 1 of 25, by therevisiona

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I would get the Gainward CardExpert 4MB based on the S3 Virge/DX chipset. If you can not find this one specifically I would get a Diamond Stealth 3D 2000 Pro HQ. It is important it is the pro version, as the normal version only has two megs of ram.

Reply 5 of 25, by BSA Starfire

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I'd recommend S3 cards from Number 9, they are beautifully made and have lovely image quality. The reality series are what you want.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_Nine_Visual_Technology

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Reply 6 of 25, by derSammler

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2 or 4 MB don't really matter. You want 4 MB for Direct3D, but the ViRGE is useless for Direct3D anyway. If you can get a 2 MB version easier or cheaper, take it.

Personally, I'd recommend getting the original ViRGE 325, because that's the only one which can play all S3d games. For the DX and later, you often need patches/hacks to get them running - if at all. The DX is faster, but again, it's worth nothing since even the most primitive Direct3D games are not fun to play with any ViRGE. It's a strong 2D card, however, with great DOS compatibility.

Reply 7 of 25, by Joseph_Joestar

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derSammler wrote on 2020-05-23, 17:10:

2 or 4 MB don't really matter.

I think some S3D games need the 4 MB version.

At least that's what the readme file of the S3D patch for Tomb Raider says.

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Reply 8 of 25, by Anonymous Coward

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STB cards with S3 chips are also quite nice. Almost as nice as the #9 cards in my opinion.

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Reply 9 of 25, by candle_86

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I like my Virge VX I got yesterday, it's even got the ram expansion board

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Reply 10 of 25, by boxpressed

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candle_86 wrote on 2020-05-24, 14:12:

I like my Virge VX I got yesterday, it's even got the ram expansion board

I just played around with my STB Velocity 3D yesterday. It has the memory expansion board too. It's wild that such a card had 8MB in 1996.

Reply 11 of 25, by Anonymous Coward

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8MB on a graphics card in 1996 wasn't totally unheard of, but not necessarily useful unless your card had a beefy RAMDAC and you had an expensive large CRT display to go with it.
4MB cards could do 1280x1024 in 16.7 million colours (packed pixel mode), which was beyond what most monitors back then could handle.

I think I remember in 1996 I was going to get an 8MB card with VirgeVX, but I waited too long and by 1997 the 8MB SGRAM cards were super cheap and I got an ATi instead. Back then I foolishly bought into the concept of "future proofing", and the extra 4MB never ended up being used.

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Reply 12 of 25, by aaronkatrini

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Although many speak poorly about the S3 Virge cards, they're not bad at all...
I have this 2mb Virge/Gx, Compaq branded. It just works, any game, any system, if it is a 2D game it runs very well on it. I don't remember where I got it from, probably I got it as a bundle with other cards but has never let me down. I just wanted to share my love about this card 😀

Reply 13 of 25, by candle_86

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What's scary is the prices they ask on eBay for the Virge VX with 8mb of vram

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Reply 14 of 25, by boxpressed

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Anonymous Coward wrote on 2020-05-24, 15:49:

8MB on a graphics card in 1996 wasn't totally unheard of, but not necessarily useful unless your card had a beefy RAMDAC and you had an expensive large CRT display to go with it.
4MB cards could do 1280x1024 in 16.7 million colours (packed pixel mode), which was beyond what most monitors back then could handle.

I think I remember in 1996 I was going to get an 8MB card with VirgeVX, but I waited too long and by 1997 the 8MB SGRAM cards were super cheap and I got an ATi instead. Back then I foolishly bought into the concept of "future proofing", and the extra 4MB never ended up being used.

After reading your post, I had to discover what the "best" commerical monitor was in 1996. I found a PC magazine round-up from June 1997, which was good enough. It looks like the top-end monitors (Sony Multiscan, Mitsubishi Diamondtron, and--wait for it--Viewsonic) we 20-21 inch models that could do 1600x1200 @ 75Hz. They were all around $2,000.

Reply 16 of 25, by T-Squared

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I don't know what it is, but 4MB breaks the usage of the feature connector on any S3 VIRGE card. (Blank single color-image) Only 2MB will allow you to use it with peripherals that use the feature connector.

Reply 17 of 25, by Jo22

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I'm fine with the ViRGE 325. It's trouble free, works with unpatched S3D games, has Trio64V compatible 2D core and often comes with VBE 2.x compatible BIOS.
In addition, the defaults for memory timings are much too conservative in some cases (there's room for over clocking).
https://vintage3d.org/virge.php

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Reply 19 of 25, by The Serpent Rider

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GX2 had PCI variants.

and often comes with VBE 2.x compatible BIOS.

No. VBE 2.0 BIOS features aren't quite common for Virge. Many manufacturers didn't bother to change anything since Trio64V+.

Last edited by The Serpent Rider on 2020-05-31, 22:21. Edited 1 time in total.

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