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Review: 3dfx Voodoo5 5500 AGP (Page 1/6)

Posted: September 21, 2000
Written by: Tuan "Solace" Nguyen


Here I am again with another video card on my hands. This time it isnít an NVIDIA card though, but rather its competition -- 3dfx. But rest assured, my NVIDIA cards are coming, Iíve got a few GeForce2 MX reviews about to go up too.

Iíve always been a long time fan of 3dfx and was since day one when the Diamond Monster 3D rocked the nation and set the standard for 3D graphics. It took other companies a whole year just to catch up to the raw speed and image quality of the Voodoo1. Iím sure most of you remember that chip and its following brother, the Voodoo2. The Voodoo architecture gave gamers exactly what the needed: software support, hardware support, image quality, and most of all, speed. Nothing at the time could match the sheer horsepower of the chip and nothing did for a long time.

Then came the Voodoo3, which integrated everything into one chip. All your 2D bliss and 3D insanity along with video acceleration was meld into one simple to install solution. But 3dfx left many people asking "why". Why did they leave out so many features that other manufactures offered in their cards?

The first major feature to be excluded from the Voodoo3 was 32bit rendering support. Sure, the Voodoo3 may have looked better than its older Voodoo brothers (especially since it supported higher resolutions), but it still lacked the purity and vibrancy that other cards had compared to the competition at the time. Another glaring feature that was missing was large texture support. The Voodoo3 only supported textures up to 512x512. Other cards had 2048x2048 texture support. This was a major drawback because "Voodoo" was always known as the premiere "Quake card" and held that title for so long. But then when Quake 3 Arena came out and had textures galore that were the size of Texas, the Voodoo3 just simply fell behind and didnít look good at all. This wasnít to say that it wasnít a fast card. It was an extremely fast card. But it sacrificed things that other manufacturers packed to attain high-speed frame rates.

3dfx Voodoo5 5500

This card is supposed to mark the return of 3dfx to the 3D ring. But itís not like it has ever left the ring. It merely fell behind in terms of feature set. Best rest soundly 3dfx fans, as the Voodoo5 packs quite a punch in terms of performance over the Voodoo3 and feature set.

Letís take a look at the actual card.

The front side (click on the image to view an actual size snapshot):

Here we see the most distinguishable feature of the card, dual chipset. These two VSA-100 chips are operating in SLI mode. Yes, remember when the Voodoo2 was famous for being able to connect to another Voodoo2 card for double the performance? Well this is the same concept here. Then thereís the power connector. You connect one of your power supplyís power cables into this card. This is because the Voodoo5 requires so much juice to run that itíll simply be a rock without that extra power. Obviously the card is very large. If you think that the Voodoo5ís mammoth size is insane, wait until you see the Voodoo5 6000.

The back side (click on the image to view an actual size snapshot):

Thereís really nothing special about that back.

Letís take a look at the specs this card boasts:

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