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Trident Blade3D AGP: opinions?

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Reply 20 of 54, by 386SX

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The card arrived, chip Blade3D Rev. 3A, middle 1999, 8MB SDRAM detected @ 100Mhz, AGP2x enabled with Sideband addressing, bios 06/15/1999, drivers latest 2000 ones and the usual low end PCB look. Something I didn't notice before a capacitor on the board named EC5 near the AGP bus (should be 47 uF 16v) seems ok not broken or something but the plastic on it is half missing from the metal but the capacitor seems ok, flat and the metal closed. Could it be a problem or a bad sign? I'm going to test it today anyway but for now it looks a good accelerator, good enouch 2D desktop quality for the usual cheap PCBs maybe not the sharpest but enough.

Edit: meanwhile Final Reality early tests are impressively smooth and fast and the City test is much better than expected.. Final score 4.52 impressive! And 3DMark99 I'm going to run says it support anisotropic filtering and S3TC? Incredible..and from the benchmark frame rates while is running I can say it surpass by A LOT the Rage Pro in speed at least First and Second 3DMark99 tests frame rates are higher than expected.

Last edited by 386SX on 2022-01-13, 19:38. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 22 of 54, by Joseph_Joestar

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386SX wrote on 2022-01-13, 14:16:

As expected final result with 3DMark99 is 2388 (CPU 7615) almost 1000 points more than the Rage Pro. Maybe my expectations are low but I'm impressed.

Out of curiosity, can you check if it supports paletted textures and table fog? And if so, post some screenshots here: Table Fog & 8-bit Paletted Textures

There are save games and instructions on how to test those features in that thread. Basically, you need Thief 2 and the Final Fantasy 8 demo.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 23 of 54, by 386SX

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I have Thief2 and I'll test it. For now I can see only Vertex Fog as a supported feature.

Update with 3DMark2000; demo runs very well, without major problems on the graphic at least not visible at a first launch (only a single shadow I've seen different). It's an heavy benchmark so I wasn't expecting very high frame rates but anyway rendering is very good no errors in it and frame rates at 1024x768 is mostly below 20fps but it's an high resolution of course. I wonder if the anisotropic or trilinear filtering are enabled by default cause the texture filtering seems better than expected. Final score is 784 points at default (CPU speed 127 points).

Reply 24 of 54, by Joseph_Joestar

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386SX wrote on 2022-01-13, 14:41:

I have Thief2 and I'll test it.

Nice! Here's a link to the relevant savegames.

For instructions on testing paletted textures, see this post of mine

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 25 of 54, by 386SX

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Update with Half Life. Interesting it looks like @ 800x600 the game runs ok with Direct3D some strange slowdowns happens more with OpenGL where it seems general quality is higher in rendering. No major gfx errors seen but it seems like it might have needed some optimization here. The frame rate seems ok but not smooth all the times.

Reply 26 of 54, by 386SX

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Update with Quake3 Demo: as expected something is a bit slower in OpenGL while of course these are heavy benchmarks for these early video chips and also in this game it seems to suffer a bit the average rendering speed. The demo is tested at 800x600 16bit (cause 32bit decrease quite a lot the speed) but it seems like also the sound card get rarely affected by slowdowns. I'm using a Sound Blaster Vibra ISA card with default MS drivers. I don't think any problems but I might try another sound card to see if some compatibility problems are there. Anyway maybe here the Rage Pro Turbo get a better result with OpenGL and same thing in Half Life. At 640x480 things get better but not entirely I'd say.

Reply 27 of 54, by 386SX

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Update with DVD Mpeg2 decoding: using Powerdvd trial version the 3.0, it see the "Trident Hardware Video acceleration (in use)" and make quite an effect to see that feature detected.. with the usual same Pentium III 500Mhz CPU usage is mostly similar to the Rage Pro with the same player considering it's using probably Motion Compensation too, around 45% cpu used. I'm going to see if this ISA sound card is affecting the system speed I don't think so.
Anyway video decoding quality seems quite good, it's soon to have an opinion comparing the Rage Pro but upscaling is ok, pixels noise enough stable, but here the sw engine itself make a difference before the hw support. The old ATi/Cinemaster engine was quite a good one even without specific acceleration but even with this is not bad at all maybe I prefer the first as video quality just an opinion.
Maybe I see now that the VGA output quality could have been a bit better @ 1024x768 probably cause the usual low end PCB. It's not bad but seems difficult to find a good LCD auto calibration result. Anyway a part of the MPEG2 is decoded in hardware as expected and the "Trident Hardware Video acceleration (in use)" is great to even read. 😁

Reply 28 of 54, by 386SX

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Update with Thief 1 game: it runs without problems with high details at 800x600 at good frame rate, I didn't try 1024x768 but I suppose it should run. Anyway texture filtering seems good, no gfx errors noticed in a first game test. Sky stars are visible. No fog options in the demo. I'm going to try a first run of Thief2.
Meanwhile I changed the Vibra 16XV ISA for an different older Vibra sound card. Half Life still suffer frame rate slowdowns and obviously also the sound is slowed down at that point. It looks like quite variable.. sometimes very smooth other times the frame rate decrease a lot in OpenGL.

Last edited by 386SX on 2022-01-13, 23:34. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 29 of 54, by 386SX

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-01-13, 14:29:
386SX wrote on 2022-01-13, 14:16:

As expected final result with 3DMark99 is 2388 (CPU 7615) almost 1000 points more than the Rage Pro. Maybe my expectations are low but I'm impressed.

Out of curiosity, can you check if it supports paletted textures and table fog? And if so, post some screenshots here: Table Fog & 8-bit Paletted Textures

There are save games and instructions on how to test those features in that thread. Basically, you need Thief 2 and the Final Fantasy 8 demo.

After testing Thief II patched to the official v118 with latest (I've checked the versions) Blade3D drivers, I can say that it renders:

Sky stars: yes
Weather: yes
Fog: No

As usual I'd say.. it's quite rare to see the fog working in Thief II game. I took some screenshots but I've to pass those to the main pc and I'm on Win 98 FE so no usb storage for now. Soon I'll post those in that thread. For the game experience in general I'd say heavier for sure than Thief 1 but acceptable at 800x600 even if probably it will suffer in some of the complex episodes of the game where there's more geometry. So I suppose 640x480 might be the good option for a smooth gameplay. Texture quality seems good, mostly as other Directx6 cards at 16bit I'd say. Surely better than the Rage Pro shadows problem and not the best 16bit colors rendering but they both seems to run the game just as I'd have expected in its time. It's interesting how well these cards run with their problems of course. OpenGL still seems that it might have needed some more upgrades to do what the Rage Pro OpenGL driver at last did (running faster than the Direct3D part).

Reply 30 of 54, by 386SX

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Something I think it's interesting, PowerStrip can't read the main engine clock frequency while it reads the 100Mhz memory clock that seems correct I think. Latest drivers seems the one I'm using of middle 2000. Too bad they didn't improve more the OpenGL one cause it seems like it might have needed it fore the more common OpenGL games; while the rendering accuracy is good the speed seems suffering more than Direct3D. I'd say that in Direct3D it seems to win on the Rage Pro chip in most things but not in OpenGL. Another interesting thing is that the chip itself almost barely warm up even with the Pentium III 500 and the AGP 2x enabled. Maybe only just a bit more while assisting the MPEG2 decoding with Motion Compensation but still quite cold.
On the 2D side it seems ok but my PCB version seems not the best built so I suppose a better brand might have better VGA output quality in sharpness. I suppose it might improve if I'd use an high quality double shielded vga cable but I just imagine how much they would cost. Anyway generally for an initial test I'd say that is working quite well and I'd have easily accepted this card instead of the Trio3D I had once I bought the just released K6-2 350 config I had back then. With this rendering most games I used to play would have run ok.

Reply 31 of 54, by Joseph_Joestar

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386SX wrote on 2022-01-13, 19:29:
After testing Thief II patched to the official v118 with latest (I've checked the versions) Blade3D drivers, I can say that it r […]
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After testing Thief II patched to the official v118 with latest (I've checked the versions) Blade3D drivers, I can say that it renders:

Sky stars: yes
Weather: yes
Fog: No

Just to double check, did you turn Fogging to ON under Options > Video? By default, it's turned off.

Also, the fog only appears in two levels: "Life of the Party" and "Precious Cargo". The save game that I provided is from "Precious Cargo" lined up for a nice view of the Lighthouse in the fog.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 32 of 54, by 386SX

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-01-13, 20:04:
386SX wrote on 2022-01-13, 19:29:
After testing Thief II patched to the official v118 with latest (I've checked the versions) Blade3D drivers, I can say that it r […]
Show full quote

After testing Thief II patched to the official v118 with latest (I've checked the versions) Blade3D drivers, I can say that it renders:

Sky stars: yes
Weather: yes
Fog: No

Just to double check, did you turn Fogging to ON under Options > Video? By default, it's turned off.

Also, the fog only appears in two levels: "Life of the Party" and "Precious Cargo". The save game that I provided is from "Precious Cargo" lined up for a nice view of the Lighthouse in the fog.

Yes I turn it on along with the Weather option and set the resolution to a 800x600 that seems like possible for this video card and loaded the two savegame posted in that thread. I test it again to double check but I'm not surprised by this result. Most card I tried didn't show the fog in this game. 😉
Meanwhile I upgraded the system ram to 256MB SDR133@100CL2 to be sure no speed problems came for later 2000 bench/games after a run of memtest.
(Interesting note not depending on the video card.. the 500Mhz P-III need almost 15% CPU usage 3 to 5% CPU usage (it was the real time graph that took the other 10% of CPU) for a single 128Kb/44Khz MP3 decoding.. easy task but not that much.. 😁 )

EDIT: double checked Thief2 fog doesn't appear in the "Precious Cargo" episode. And I found it quite heavy too for 800x600 resolution so I set 640x480. Also few white dots rarely appears beetwen some textures but nothing really broken. Texturing quality/filtering seems to be a bit lower than I remember it should (example inside the house for the walls and floor textures) but still mostly as I'd expect by an early Directx6 accelerator.
Interesting thing again..newer Powerdvd XP 4 while it runs in the trial version on Win98 it seems to have discontinued or not detecting the Trident video acceleration that their previous version could. So I suppose the 3.0 version has been the latest to make use of its acceleration with the CPU up to 80% usage without it. To say that a powerful cpu like the Pentium III 500 alone was of course enough for mpeg2 decoding but not in multitasking.

Last edited by 386SX on 2022-01-13, 23:55. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 33 of 54, by Standard Def Steve

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386SX wrote on 2022-01-13, 20:17:

(Interesting note not depending on the video card.. it's impressive that the 500Mhz P-III need almost 15% CPU usage for a single 128Kb/44Khz MP3 decoding.. easy task but not that much.. 😁 )

Something doesn't seem quite right there. CPU usage for MP3 playback shouldn't be anywhere near that high. Even my 166MMX only needs to devote around 10% of its time to play a 320K MP3 w/ Foobar2000 on Windows 2000. With a P2-300, that figure is reduced to a barely noticeable 1-2%, and a PIII-550 (Katmai) is practically idle, at 0-1%. This is all with an SBLive, by the way.

P6 chip. Triple the speed of the Pentium.
Tualatin: PIII-S @ 1628 MHz | QDI Advance 12T | 2GB DDR-310 | 6800GT | X-Fi | 500GB HDD | 3DMark01: 14,059
Dothan: PM @ 2720 MHz | MSI Speedster FA4 | 2GB DDR2-544 | GTX-280 | X-Fi | 500GB SSD | 3DMark01: 42,148

Reply 34 of 54, by 386SX

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Standard Def Steve wrote on 2022-01-13, 21:20:
386SX wrote on 2022-01-13, 20:17:

(Interesting note not depending on the video card.. it's impressive that the 500Mhz P-III need almost 15% CPU usage for a single 128Kb/44Khz MP3 decoding.. easy task but not that much.. 😁 )

Something doesn't seem quite right there. CPU usage for MP3 playback shouldn't be anywhere near that high. Even my 166MMX only needs to devote around 10% of its time to play a 320K MP3 w/ Foobar2000 on Windows 2000. With a P2-300, that figure is reduced to a barely noticeable 1-2%, and a PIII-550 (Katmai) is practically idle, at 0-1%. This is all with an SBLive, by the way.

That's right something did seems strange so I checked the processes and it looks like using the old version of Winamp at best quality (the default) settings the real value it takes at the end is around 3 to 5% of this CPU.. the difference above was the real time graph of the program used to check the cpu usage.. I think it opens a whole new process the internal System Diagnostic that has the classic XP style CPU graph but it took a bit of CPU at least in that test while I didn't notice the same problem during monitoring MPEG2 decoding. Probably a temporary problem, the application sometimes crash after a long time.
Thanks. 😀

Reply 35 of 54, by 386SX

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Anyway I installed again the previous Powerdvd 3 trial and the Hardware acceleration came back detected and ready. The video card Trident control panel tab help improving real time movie colors, brightness, contrast parameters and with an higher quality DVD I confirm with this player engine it already has a very good final pixel quality and smooth playback. Maybe not like some later Rage 128 Pro chip (that I'll test) but seems doing a good job indeed. I suppose anyway the software is quite optimized for this chip already.

Reply 36 of 54, by Joseph_Joestar

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386SX wrote on 2022-01-13, 20:17:

Yes I turn it on along with the Weather option and set the resolution to a 800x600 that seems like possible for this video card and loaded the two savegame posted in that thread. I test it again to double check but I'm not surprised by this result. Most card I tried didn't show the fog in this game.

Thanks for confirming this.

If you also want to test paletted textures, grab the free FF8 demo.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 37 of 54, by 386SX

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-01-14, 05:11:
386SX wrote on 2022-01-13, 20:17:

Yes I turn it on along with the Weather option and set the resolution to a 800x600 that seems like possible for this video card and loaded the two savegame posted in that thread. I test it again to double check but I'm not surprised by this result. Most card I tried didn't show the fog in this game.

Thanks for confirming this.

If you also want to test paletted textures, grab the free FF8 demo.

Meanwhile I checked with SiSoft tools to see the Direct3D capabilities and it says in the Line Raster Capabilities section that it does not support "Fog By Table" (it support the "Fog by Light-Alpha-Interpolate"). Also while I don't know if it's the same texture format it also says it supports the "8-bit RGB PAL8" texture.

And update on the sound card: I changed again the Vibra ISA older card cause it looks like it need some capacitors replacement cause too much noise and low quality sound. So I went for the Vibra 128 PCI CT4810 I think it's with the original drivers. It sounds quite good I'd say even if I don't like PCI sound card on old system but to try the same games it looks like sound isn't changed in Half Life OpenGL and slowed down when frame rate get too low. I'm quite convinced OpenGL ICD driver might have needed some more drivers. Too bad this is the last driver released for the card.

Reply 38 of 54, by Joseph_Joestar

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386SX wrote on 2022-01-14, 09:10:

Also while I don't know if it's the same texture format it also says it supports the "8-bit RGB PAL8" texture.

That sounds promising. FF8 will give you the definitive answer since it has a paletted texture check in its configuration utility.

file.php?id=123813&mode=view

Additionally, it uses paletted textures for rendering the in-game menu, which will have washed out colors on cards that don't support this feature.

file.php?id=123814&mode=view

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 39 of 54, by 386SX

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Interesting! I'll update as soon as I test it.
Meanwhile Everest free version reads the Blade3D chip clock to 100Mhz if it's an actual reading. The Ramdac @ 230Mhz the ram bus obviously @ 64bit. Direct3D supports texture up to 1024x1024, AGP texturing, Edge Antialiasing (while a better control panel might have been good to control these possible options), only Vertex Fog (no W-Fog, no Z-Fog).