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Posted: March 28, 1999
Written by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy
Estimated retail price: $179.99
3Dfx has made yet another impression on the graphics industry, this time with the Voodoo3 chip. The Voodoo3 3000 is the middle class version, fitting right between the slower Voodoo3 2000 and the faster Voodoo3 3500. How does this new chip from 3Dfx compare to the current and upcoming competition? Read on to find out in our 3Dfx Voodoo3 3000 review.
The features of the Voodoo3 3000 are for the most part, exceptional. The 3D features' incredible 166 MHz clock speed, 7 million triangles per second, and 333 megatexal per second fill rate certainly result in incredible performance. The extremely high bandwidth of up to 2.66 GB per second is yet another positive feature. A few major complaints here though: lack of true 32-bit rendering support, the lack of true AGP support, and the lack of larger textures support. Are these features necessary for a modern 3D card? Perhaps not as of today, but the future is unveiling new products all the time, which limit the lifetime of such a card. 3Dfx actually states in the reviewer's guide that AGP 4X support may be included in a later Voodoo3 member.
The 2D features and video subsystem offer great features with few complaints. The 350 MHz RAMDAC ensures excellent refresh rates at even the highest 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 3000 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.