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Posted: April 2, 1999
Written by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy
Estimated retail price: $129.99
3Dfx has made yet another impression on the graphics industry, this time with the Voodoo3 chip. The Voodoo3 2000 is the cheapest and slowest version, clocked 23 MHz below the Voodoo3 3000 and 40 MHz below the Voodoo3 3500. How does this penny pincher's solution compare to the others in its price range? Read on to find out in our 3Dfx Voodoo3 2000 review.
The features of the Voodoo3 2000 should be examined from a different perspective than other Voodoo3 cards for one reason: the incredible price. The $129.99 suggested retail price tag of this card goes a long way. That is to say, this is a very low price for any card new to the market, and the price is likely to drop as new technology becomes available. The 3D features' 143 MHz clock speed, 6 million triangles per second, and 286 megatexals per second fill rate (clock speed x 2) offer a powerful solution for a low price. The lacking features that most people complain about with the Voodoo3 are no true 32-bit rendering support, lack of true AGP support, and lack of large textures support. The reason I take these features lightly is because, as of now, few games take advantage of these features. By the time every game is based around these, there will most likely be faster solutions available. At least for the $130 Voodoo3 2000, the supported features and overall speed will out-last the worth of the pricetag. In other words, the Voodoo3 2000 is not a very risky investment.
The 2D features and video subsystem offer great features with few complaints. The 300 MHz RAMDAC ensures excellent refresh rates at even very high resolutions. The memory, 16 MB SDRAM, is plenty for most uses, but some people would prefer 32 MB for the future. Full DVD and MPEG2 software CODEC support are both definite positive features, as well as the support for 8, 16, 24, and 32-bit color modes. Although 24-bit and 32-bit color are for the most part, identical, it is nice to have support for both modes to ensure full compatibility with all applications.
The Voodoo3 2000 supports OpenGL, DirectDraw, Direct3D, and 3Dfx Glide. The OpenGL support for all 3Dfx cards is still lacking in several ways. For games like Quake II, Half-Life, Kingpin, etc., the ICD can handle it without problems. However, if you slap the Voodoo3 with 3D Studio Max, most OpenGL screensavers, or other OpenGL applications, the chances are you'll crash it. 3Dfx may possibly fix these problems in the future, but it's doubtful. As for the Direct3D support, it's flawless. I have tried over forty Direct3D games since I installed the Voodoo3, and I have yet to see any odd display problems, major slow-downs, or incompatibilities.
The addition of 3Dfx's patented API, Glide, is welcome to any system. Some say it is useless, but that is not the case. If you were to go out and buy any game off the shelves at the local CompUSA or Electronics Boutique store, you could take comfort knowing that it would either support OpenGL or Direct3D. (which any non-3Dfx chip supports) However, sometimes a game will NOT support these. (yes, even new, high quality games) Take TRIBES for example. When it was first released, it only supported software and Glide rendering platforms. So if you were stuck without a 3Dfx card, you were running an ugly, choppy, non-accelerated game even if you had an expensive 3D accelerator like a TNT! Glide isn't always necessary, but it's definitely worth something.
There are a few other features of the V3 2000 not to overlook. The card (as tested) had excellent S-video TV-Out. I tried it on my 27" TV and was impressed, as it compared with even the high quality Canopus Spectra 2500's TV-Output. Still, I prefer my 19" Optiquest monitor by all means. At this time, the software bundle for the V3 2000 is unannounced, but 3Dfx has stated that they will include games.
Update: The Voodoo3 2000 I received to test included TV-Output but the final OEM version will not.