In the Forums...
Posted: April 20, 1999
Written by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy
Overclocking a Voodoo2 doesn't seem like a smart idea. The Voodoo2 is already so fast that you would think overclocking wouldn't matter. However, some games such as Unreal and SiN still have a hard time hitting an optimal frame rate. It's time to overclock!
Results may vary, and I make no guarantee that you will succeed or gain ANYTHING from this. Use these tweaks at your own risk. If you fry your Voodoo2 card (which I think is unlikely) I take no responsibility.
Is it worth it?
Of course! Assuming you take proper precautions you aren't taking much of a risk. There's nothing more exciting than finally being able to play Unreal and other games at a decent framerate.
What is a good speed?
The Voodoo2 has a default clock speed of 90 MHz.
Without any cooling you probably will have a hard time getting your Voodoo2 to run above 100 MHz. I had some luck running uncooled at 100 MHz, but freezes were still common, and games like Unreal really gave me a bad time. At 105 MHz uncooled I could barely even run Quake 2. After 2 timedemos or so the game would always lock up the PC. So if you don't plan on cooling your Voodoo2 at all, I would say you should shoot for about 95 MHz for stability, or possibly up to 100 MHz if your PC is already well cooled.
If you really want to get some results, COOL your Voodoo2. Stability is the obvious reason. Running at the default 90 MHz the Voodoo2 already produces incredible amounts of heat. With good cooling the Voodoo2 may remain stable at speeds of up to 109 MHz. If you have decent cooling, 100 MHz or even 105 MHz should be a breeze. If you have really good cooling 109 MHz will be attainable.
How can you cool a Voodoo2?
There are several methods to cooling the Voodoo2.
To eliminate the heat you must first know what causes it. The memory of the Voodoo2 (see pic here) gains heat very quickly as you frag along in Quake 2 at 60 frames per second. The 3 larger chips on your Voodoo2 card (see pic here) increase in heat as well. The rest of the card heats up very quickly too. For absolute best results you would want to cool the 3 chips, the memory all over the card, then the rest of the card (which is nearly impossible). For satisfactory results you would want to cool the memory chips and/or the 3 chips shown in the picture.
If you want to cool the 3 chips, bringing down the card temperature and letting you safely overclock the card, see TennMax. It is a little pricey, but worth the money to protect your Voodoo2. See my results below to see how it handled.
3 Fingers has some nice ideas to cool the card as well. His approach was to go to the local Radio Shack and purchase brushless coolers. These really put out a lot of air quickly and are reasonably quiet. Go to his site for more information.
Other companies make fans that they claim will reliably cool your Voodoo2. Cooling the Voodoo2 is essential. Even if you have to make your own from a 486 heatsink/fan (this is a fun one with a Voodoo2) you should consider this as a priority, not an option.
Homemade solutions are often the best. If you have plans to make your own cooling, make sure that you know what you're doing and take proper safety precautions.
How do you overclock?
Most people have either figured this one out on their own, or have seen somewhere else teaching you how.
If you're new to this, check out this program, V2 Overclock by Gary Peterson. It will let you set your speed anywhere from 85 MHz to 105 MHz. To run this, unzip it to a folder, run V2OCInst.exe. Now when you go to your display properties (Right click the desktop, go to settings) you'll have a new tab just for overclocking your Voodoo2.
If you're a more advanced user, you can use the registry for the ultimate accuracy of overclocking. Enter your registry by going to your start menu, go to run, then type regedit. Now, click the [+] next to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, then the same next to SOFTWARE, 3Dfx Interactive, then Voodoo2. Now you'll see D3D and Glide. Choose which you plan on overclocking the Voodoo2 for. It is okay to set just one, or both if you wish. Now find SSTV2_GRXCLK. Right click, go to Modify, and choose the value you wish. I do not recommend anything over 109 MHz.
What will you gain?
I knew most people would want to see some numbers here, so I took my CPU and Voodoo2 to many different speeds to show you what you'll gain in Quake 2, GLQuake, Forsaken, Half-Life, and Unreal. Other games follow the same trend. You'll gain speed in any games by overclocking.
To sum it up for you, you'll gain a lot more on a faster system than a slower system. This is because the Voodoo2 is usually waiting for the CPU, not vice-versa on sub-233 MHz CPUs. However, you'll still see a nice improvement in most games even on slow CPUs. Since slower systems have a hard time keeping good framerates on some games, any increase is welcome and appreciated.
Test system 1: Genuine Intel Pentium II 266 MHz, ABit BX6 motherboard, 64 MB PC100 SDRAM, Diamond Monster Sound MX200, Creative Labs 3D Blaster Voodoo2 8 MB (VSYNC disabled), no autoexecs for Quake 2 or GLQuake, Forsaken demo speeds at 800%, Unreal at default (with Multitexture patch)
Pentium II @ 133 MHz
Pentium II @ 200 MHz
Pentium II @ 300 MHz
Pentium II @ 336 MHz
Test system 2: (results from 12-31-98) Intel Pentium II 450 MHz, ABit BX6 motherboard, 64 MB PC100 SDRAM, Diamond Monster Sound MX200, STB Black Magic 3D Voodoo2 12 MB (SLI, VSYNC disabled), no autoexecs for Quake 2 or GLQuake, Unreal at default (with Multitexture patch), Half-Life with default settings.
Pentium II @ 450 MHz
Unreal is very picky about overclocking your Voodoo2. I have only seen my machine pass a full round at 109 MHz a few times. 105 MHz often freezes with Unreal too. Quake 2 usually isn't bad at 105 MHz, but can be a pain at 109 MHz.
These results should show you that everyone should consider overclocking their Voodoo2, regardless of CPU speed, assuming they want the performance (duh) and have proper cooling. The speed increase is incredible in most cases. It may give you that little extra kick you need on slower systems, or assure you that everything will always be running smoothly.
When playing online or in huge levels, even the fastest machines can experience poor performance. Why not give your aging Voodoo2 a little extra kick by boosting the clock speed?