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Graphics card for Pentium Pro build

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First post, by feipoa

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I'm in the mist of a Pentium Pro build. I plan to run a 512K or 1M chip at 233 MHz. The board is PCI/ISA only, no AGP. I'm fresh out of working Voodoo cards and was hoping to use some unused 3D card from my drawer. Here is a list of what I have. Emphasis is pre-millennium 3D games, Could you let me know which card you'd pick any why? Thanks!

ATI 3D Rage Pro
ATI 3D Rage II + DVD
ATI Rage128 VR
ATI Rage128 Pro 16 MB (original)
ATI Rage128 Pro 32 MB (chinese replica)
ATI Radeon 7000 32 MB DDR
ATI Radeon 9250 (1 vote)
ATI Radeon 9000
S3 Savage4 Pro+ (Diamond Stealth III S540)
ATI FireMV 2260
Matrox G450 (3 votes)
Matrox G200 (1 vote)
PNY GeForce2 MX400 128-bit memory, IIRC (3 votes)
Jaton GeForce2 MX400 64-bit memory, IIRC
eVGA GeForce 6200
PNY GeForce 6200
GeFroce FX5500 (1 vote)
TNT2 64/Vanta (2 votes)
Nvidia Riva TNT (one from Creative, one from Diamond) (3 votes)
Nvidia Riva 128 (1 vote)
Permedia 2
3D Labs Oxygen VX1 (4 votes)

EDIT: This chart has been copied from page 9 of this thread for convenience.

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Last edited by feipoa on 2019-12-19, 11:25. Edited 8 times in total.

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Reply 3 of 182, by maxtherabbit

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GeForce FX5500. I have an FX5200 in my dual PPro build and love it. It's got a nice "modern" quality RAMDAC for a good clean, sharp image in high resolutions, and also has brilliant DOS game support.

Reply 4 of 182, by luckybob

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the Matrox G200 supports USWC which gives DRASTIC performance boosts to games. (quake)

even posted about it in the 686 benchmark thread: The Ultimate 686 Benchmark Comparison

Other cards might support it too, but it would need to be tested.

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Reply 5 of 182, by maxtherabbit

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luckybob wrote:

the Matrox G200 supports USWC which gives DRASTIC performance boosts to games. (quake)

even posted about it in the 686 benchmark thread: The Ultimate 686 Benchmark Comparison

Other cards might support it too, but it would need to be tested.

pretty sure the FX5500 would as well

Reply 8 of 182, by feipoa

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I thought I recall Swaaye mentioning that the Matrox G200 wasn't too bad for DOS game support and that this is a common misconception. Maybe I remember incorrectly. But nonetheless, I do recall that the Pentium Pro isn't strong with 16-bit anyway, hence the intent is for 1995-1999 early 3D games in Windows.

It is unfortunate that the Matrox G400 Max did not come in a PCI flavour.

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Reply 9 of 182, by xjas

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You have some nice cards there! I agree, the G450 would be a great choice. It won't run everything perfectly, but will be fun to play around with. Although the G200 should support Matrox's proprietary API which AFAIK the G4xx series dropped.

The 3D Rage Pro will give you access to games that run ATI's CIF API (Wipeout, Tomb Raider, etc.), but its OpenGL & D3D performance isn't great. (It's more competent than people make it out to be though, think roughly Voodoo1-level.) The later Rage 128s are much improved but don't suport CIF.

Similarly, the Permedia 2 or Oxygen VX1 would be interesting to play around with for their proprietary game support, but I have no idea how they perform in OGL/D3D. I'd expect roughly Voodoo 1~2 level of performance.

If you don't care about the proprietary API stuff and just want OGL/D3D that "just works", throw in the GF2 MX400 and call it a day. Run the 30.82 or 45.23 driver and you'll be able to play everything that system can run perfectly decently. I'd say the FX5500 or 6xxx are too new for a PPro build.

(The FireMV 2260 doesn't have 98 drivers BTW. It's a fun XP card to mess around with but way newer than you'd want in that build.)

feipoa wrote:

I thought I recall Swaaye mentioning that the Matrox G200 wasn't too bad for DOS game support and that this is a common misconception. Maybe I remember incorrectly. But nonetheless, I do recall that the Pentium Pro isn't strong with 16-bit anyway, hence the intent is for 1995-1999 early 3D games in Windows.

The "not very good DOS compatibility" people always harp on about basically amounts to SOME 2D scrollers like Commander Keen. If you don't care about those games, it's not a huge issue. It'll run Doom and Quake fine. See here: https://gona.mactar.hu/DOS_TESTS/ - but keep in mind Gona ran a pretty limited gamut of tests.

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Reply 10 of 182, by maxtherabbit

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feipoa wrote:

But nonetheless, I do recall that the Pentium Pro isn't strong with 16-bit anyway

That's the common misconception! PPro does just fine in DOS. It might be just a fuzz slower clock for clock to a P5 in real mode, but that is way overblown. In games that use a DOS extender to run in protected mode, the PPro will destroy

Reply 11 of 182, by feipoa

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I was also curious about the Oxygen VX1 because was supposed to be a workstation card.

Looking at old posts, swaaye paired his PPRO system with a TNT. I was considering using the TNT in a K5-PR200 build though.

I might use the Matrox G450. I have the G200 in a few systems already (paired with 3dfx V1/V2).

I'm still considering the Rage 128 Pro, Oxygen VX1, GF2, G450, and Savage4 Pro. Mostly between the Savage and the G450 though. Anyone else have an opinion?

I've tested the Diamond Savage4 extreme drivers from this post, Re: S3 Savage 2000
They seem to work the best. But when I compare the results from a PPRO-256K at 200 MHz to a PPRO-512K at 233 MHz, the jump in performance is minimal. I'd have expected a little more.

For example, GLQuake jumped from 44.1 fps to 44.2 fps. Quake2 went from 33.0 fps to 33.5 fps. And Quake 3 went from 23.6 fps to 24.5 fps.

Last edited by feipoa on 2019-10-19, 20:29. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 12 of 182, by clueless1

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I think it would be fun to take a few of the top mentions and duke them out head-to-head in some favorite games. 😀

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Reply 13 of 182, by SSTV2

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feipoa wrote:

I'm fresh out of working Voodoo cards

I'd try to make at least one functional voodoo from few non working units first, but before that I'd go with one of these:

Riva 128 - period correct, but ugly looking DX6 3D games;
Riva TNT - godsent compared with a R128 in terms of performance, period correct and nice looking DX6 3D games + mature drivers that are compatible with all old OSs;
RIVA M64/Vanta - godsent compared with a TNT in terms of performance, but gives cheap feeling about the build, somewhat period correct, mature drivers that are compatible with all old OSs;
GF2 MX400 - all of the above + much faster, TnL support, thus good performance in DX7 games using it, not period correct.

I'd personally go with TNTs or GF2, perhaps a Rage128 would also do the job well, but I'm not too familiar with them. Matrox wasn't really ment for games, no point of ultra nice picture quality when your main concern is fast paced games and not CAD applications + expect major performance downgrade with newer drivers for those cards. GF FX5500 is just too powerful for PPro (but it has superb compatibility), same goes for any card realeased in the year 2001+ from the list.

Reply 14 of 182, by swaaye

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I recall some kind of problem with G200 and Dark Forces. And that some cards don't get along with Fastvid and have artifacts. Maybe that was G200 w/ Fastvid. That would have been on a 440BX setup though because I only have a AGP G200.

My fav for PPro is probably the Voodoo3 PCI. Nice to have Glide and they are great for everything else too.

Otherwise some kind of Nvidia card. One that's not blurry.

Reply 15 of 182, by The Serpent Rider

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3dfx or Nvidia with early drivers (TNT2 or GeForce 2 MX), maybe S3 Savage4 Pro, those are fine too. Pentium Pro is quite weak to handle driver overhead (Matrox, ATi), but not slow enough to justify something like Riva128 or Permedia 2.

It is unfortunate that the Matrox G400 Max did not come in a PCI flavour.

Technically, Matrox G450 PCI can work easily at G400 MAX clocks. Both RAM and the chip are extremely underclocked for whatever reason.

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Reply 16 of 182, by maxtherabbit

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swaaye wrote:

Otherwise some kind of Nvidia card. One that's not blurry.

that's why I suggested he use the FX5500 he has, it should have a quality RAMDAC

Reply 17 of 182, by Rawit

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feipoa wrote:

I thought I recall Swaaye mentioning that the Matrox G200 wasn't too bad for DOS game support and that this is a common misconception.

The G200 with the Flat Panel add-on was one of the cards I've tried for my build. The findings in Gona's chart are correct, but of course this a small selection of software. I've tried demoscene productions and DOS games and it seems to do pretty well. It feels a little bit faster than the Savage4 Pro I'm using now, even though that card is from a later generation, has that S3 DOS compatibility (TM) and faster memory on paper.

Only thing stopping me from using it is that it doesn't run a selection of Gravis UltraSound showcase titles (focus of my build) and that it has a bit of annoying tearing in games like Tomb Raider and Quake. For example when you do a quick 180, the top half of the image is updated while the bottom half is displaying the previous perspective. I could see it clearly because I did captures, but also noticed it while gaming. Perhaps with a higher specced system the tearing issue is resolved.

BTW, the issue with Keen and Matrox cards is patchable nowadays.

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Reply 18 of 182, by j^aws

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3D Labs Oxygen VX1 - I think I have that card in PCI form as well. It's based on Permedia 3, rather than the better known Permedia 2 chipset. You don't hear many users with this card, so I'd go with that and report back. It was delayed to market but improved over the 2 series, and considering you're using a PPro, it should be more than adequate.

Reply 19 of 182, by oohms

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Matrox cards were never great for gaming and have aweful drivers. I would go a TNT or GF2MX because they work, have good drivers and good dos games compatibility. They are also common enough that you can try a few to get one with the sharpest image output

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