Budget Video Comparison - November 1999by Mike Andrawes on November 1, 1999 10:05 PM EST
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As we’ve noted before, the chipset on a graphics card is the primary factor influencing performance. There are differences between cards based on the same chipset, but these differences are miniscule compared to the difference between chipsets. Thus, our focus is on the available chipsets. Let’s see what we have here…
3dfx Velocity 100
The 3dfx Velocity 100 is 3dfx’s latest entry into the market and is definitely targeted at OEM’s and value conscious buyers. Check out our complete 3dfx Velocity 100 Review for full details on this card. We basically found that, with a registry hack, it provided most of the features of the Voodoo3 2000, but at $50, it’s almost half the price. The Velocity is only available as an AGP card.
3dfx Voodoo 2
We’re going way back for the Voodoo2 – the former champ of the 3D world is still a potential option for a budget system. After all, you can pick these guys up for around $30 with some careful looking – a quick and easy way to get your 3D fix.
In case you don’t remember, the Voodoo2 is a 3D only PCI card that works with your existing 2D or 2D/3D graphics card. A pass through cable is used to Two cards can be linked together via a technique known as "Scan Line Interleaving," or SLI for short, where each card renders alternative scan lines of an image, theoretically doubling performance.
3dfx Voodoo3 2000
Thanks to the continually falling prices of computer hardware, the Voodoo3 2000 is also a good pick for a budget card. It does come in at the high end of the price range for this article - around $100. Available in both PCI and AGP form, the Voodoo3 2000 should be easy to find at any retail outlet. OEM versions are also available without the game bundle and at an even lower price. AnandTech’s Voodoo3 review has the complete details.
Notes on 3dfx cards
3dfx has yet to release a card that supports 32-bit rendering, texture sizes greater than 256x256, or AGP texturing. Up until recently, this was not considered a huge limitation by most gamers out there, especially since 3dfx was faster with their 16-bit rendering. However, games like Quake3 Arena, as well as a number of other upcoming titles, are really beginning to expose the drawbacks to 16-bit rendering and the limited texture size. Although we’ve been saying it since the arrival of AGP, games with lots and lots of textures, and thus benefiting greatly by AGP texturing, should begin showing up by the end of this year.
Image quality is similar among the 3dfx cards since the 3D core is virtually identical. However, the Voodoo3/Velocity do have some advanced filtering capabilities in their drivers that help minimize dithering artifacts that arise due to multi-pass 16-bit rendering. Further, both the Velocity and Voodoo3 feature a full 128-bit memory bus, unlike the rest of the cards in this roundup. Finally, 3dfx cards also support the Glide, a proprietary API developed and controlled by 3dfx. Glide support is becoming less and less of a factor