Conclusion

Not only do the most recent 1.04.01 drivers for the Voodoo4 and Voodoo5 cards increase performance across the board, they also include the exciting option of hidden surface removal. It is too bad that this feature does not quite yet appear to be in working mode.

As far as upgrading the drivers go, every Voodoo5 5500 owner should do this without question. A bit of performance is lost in MDK2, but the FSAA performance as well as the Unreal Tournament performance increases a noticeable amount, placing the Voodoo5 5500 closer to GeForce2 GTS speeds.

Voodoo4 4500 owners may want to think twice before installing the latest driver build. The older version 1.03.00 drivers provided essentially no performance increase in Unreal Tournament as well as Quake III Arena and resulted in a performance drop in MDK2. The only reason for Voodoo4 4500 owners to upgrade to this driver build would be to either take advantage of any bug fixes that may have been implemented and/or take advantage of hidden surface removal.

The hidden surface removal feature of the 1.04.01 driver build is quite exciting. Not only does it show that 3dfx has some interesting technology in the works for upcoming driver releases and cards, it also shows the huge potential behind this technology. The problem is that there are still quite a few bugs that need ironing out.

The user most likely wanting to use the current form of HSR is one who owns a Voodoo5 5500 and plays with FSAA 2x enabled at lower resolutions. We have shown that at 800x600x32, an HSR setting of 2 results in a 38% performance gain without causing any noticeable image quality problems.

The other area in which the current form of HSR appeals is at low resolutions when paired with a Voodoo4 4500 card. Our tests showed no image quality problems at 640x480x32 with HSR settings up to the maximum of 4 and it is likely that more conservative settings paired with the 800x600x32 resolution will result in increased performance with little image sacrifice.

With the discovery of the HSR setting in the Voodoo4 and 5 drivers, it brings up the possibility that other manufacturers can do the same thing with driver updates. There is no question that the 1.04.01 driver release results in large performance gains over the initial Voodoo5 5500 drivers, but it will take more than that for the Voodoo5 5500 to catch up to GeForce2 GTS speeds. If 3dfx can pull this off, putting HSR to work while still maintaining image quality, we may have quite a battle on our hands.

The problem is the lack of acknowledgment on 3dfx's side. By not explaining what exactly is going on as well as proclaiming that future driver releases will not possess this feature, they may be shielding themselves from another company stealing their technology but they are also hurting their current product line. From now until the HSR feature of the Voodoo4 4500 and Voodoo5 5500 is finalized we must play a waiting game, waiting to see exactly what 3dfx can do with this exciting technology. From the looks of it, we may have some powerful technology on the way soon from 3dfx.

HSR 4: Aggressive Tiling

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