Gone but Not Forgotten: 3Dfx Interactive

gamerk2

Posts: 432   +303
I still remember when my old PC got upgraded with a Voodoo 3 and I could finally crank up all those graphical options.

In the end, 3dfx simply couldn't compete with NVIDIA, and made a critical mistake trying to handle production themselves. Throw in the Voodoo 4 series being late, and that was pretty much it.

Glide was also a powerful API. I remember games where using Glide gave the best of everything, DirectX 5 would give the highest resolution but lower graphical settings, and OpenGL gave the highest graphical settings but at a lower resolution. Thank god for Glide wrappers!
 

dad0ts

Posts: 19   +5
My first 3Dfx was Diamond Monster 3D 4 MB PCI, upgraded from S3 ViRGE 3D in 1997. 3dfx was the first PC chipset to really accelerate 3d compared to cpu rendering, S3(and most others 2D+3D) were slower than cpu(15-20 fps), only offered better rendering quality/effects. 3Dfx did both at the same time: high fps (at 640x480) and top quality graphics.

I also owned MGA1064SG Matrox Mystique("Mistake") in 1997 for some short period: it was much faster than S3, but...lacked important 3D features

  • bilinear filtering(even S3 had it)
  • fogging
  • AA
  • mipmapping

I remember that textures looked so awfully pixelized, I was disappointed by the overall terrible visual quality. Even higher FPS not compensated for the disgusting pixel mess on screen. So all those "3D" chips (like S3 and Matrox) were outclassed by 3Dfx Voodoo - it was so much better in all aspects(except 2D which it not included).
 
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Ean Mogg

Posts: 156   +74
My first move into PC gaming was my uncle's Packard Bell Pentium II 233Mhz and I had to play Quake 2, Command and Conquer and Half Life in Software Mode. But back then, the graphics still looked considerably better than on the consoles - I believe Playstation and N64 were the biggest comparisons.

When I got my first PC: an HP 8470c Pavilion with Pentium III 450Mhz, 96MB SDRAM and a 20 GB HDD, it was around about the time Aliens vs. Predator was out and that game absolutely demanded a 3D accelerator card.

I wanted a Voodoo 3 3500 TV AGP because everything I had researched and experienced in the marketing led me to believe that that was the best card I could afford and it was better than most other options. I think I focused mostly on the amount of VRAM and the triangle counts.

I ended up buying the Voodoo 3 3000 instead because the price difference (due to the TV tuner) was so high and I was a lowly college student.

The Voodoo 3 3000 in OpenGL mode made Quake 2 look like a totally different game. Brighter lighting effects, darker, deeper textures. It was amazing. The difference in Half Life wasn't as dramatic, but I was able to run AvP with no issues in max settings. Unreal and Soldier of Fortune were beautiful as well.

As time went on, Voodoo made their way to the Voodoo 5 5500 but prices were so high, I ended up buying a Geforce MX400 instead which was a dramatic difference because I noticed way more detail in my flight sims like JANES USAF thanks to the increase in VRAM to 64MB.

I still have my Pavilion and if I were to build up a "classic" system to run classic games, I'd probably get the most powerful Voodoo I could run on it - even the 3500TV AGP - although the low Mhz would severely limit the number of games I could run to virtually everything prior to 2002. Many of my favorite games of that era will not run on my Windows 10, Core i9ex/2080Ti/64GB DDR4 simply because of the drivers. I would love to be able to play Yuri's Revenge and the rest of the C&C games but they won't run.

...or get the best Geforce card of the time.

And as you pointed out: Nostalgia will cost you...
That's the reason why I believe in spending the money to max out the RAM that the motherboard will handle and buying my accessories up front - including the best video cards of the time. This way, further down the road, the tower itself will be "as good as it can be" so if you choose to sell it to a nostalgia builder or ever return to it yourself, you won't have to worry about searching for better hardware because you'll already have the best you can have.

They want large amounts of cash for many of those classic cards now.

There's a Voodoo 5 5500 right now on Ebay being bidded up - but even if you bought it, you'd have a Hell of a time finding and installing drivers for it. The internet as is has requirements so high that many of the old systems won't even load Google now.
Sigh miss Unreal, especially the dark mode when dark areas were dark and couldn't use gamma to see things sigh fond memories of the voodoo range maybe Nvidia could bring back the Voodoo name when they run out of numbers,,,
 

dad0ts

Posts: 19   +5
In the end, 3dfx simply couldn't compete with NVIDIA, ...
In the end - yes, but at first it was competing successfully. Back in 1998 I tried to upgrade my Voodoo² to Riva TNT and...returned it after several days. OpenGL drivers worked but had lots of bugs, the chip was very hot and Diamond Viper V550 included no active cooling, etc Overall it was more progressive than 3Dfx: had 24/32 bit color, supported high resolutions, AGP2x, 16 Mb SDRAM, D3D was OK, etc, but...the software part was too bad compared to Glide API. Starting from Riva TNT2 and then GeForce 256 nVidia was mature enough to replace 3Dfx.
 

Tom Yum

Posts: 29   +47
I was a poor student during the zenith of 3Dfx, but man I remember spending a stupid amount of time ogling computer magazine ads for these things. Still reckon that it has some of the best box art seen in the computing industry. By the time I could actually afford a 3d accelerator card it was a TNT2 M64 and 3dfx was just about to be bought out (the writing was well and truly on the wall) but still, it was an exciting time in computing.
 

EClyde

Posts: 2,345   +915
I was losing interest in gaming until I saw a voodoo card in action. I think it was the title animation for Unreal. Jaw dropper. Admittedly visual fidelty has really come on in the last 4 or 5 years, but there was never a leap forward so profound as that.
"visual fidelity" You need your own column somewhere
 

lipe123

Posts: 935   +509
All I remember of this time is a friend of mine had a voodoo 2 and I had a riva tnt 2 -something.
I saw no differences in our gaming experiences and my card was cheaper.

I realize 3dfx did a great thing is forcing the competition to step up but at the same time, it was a failed business that must have done something wrong to not exist anymore.
I'm not really sure what they did wrong but somewhere things just did not add up.

As the years progressed I remember seeing ad's for the voodoo 3-4-5-6 etc.. I moved to a geforce 2 mx and it worked flawlessly for ages. Once again cost and review related. Back Then I had to buy a monthly pc magazine to see reviews and comparisons etc. The voodoo cards just never reviewed as well as the nvidia ones.
 

Stoly

Posts: 45   +22
By the time nvidia bought 3dfx, they were already behind by a lot. The only really dominant card was the Voodoo 1, the Voodoo2 was only faster than the TNT on Glide games and actually had some issues with DirectX games, besides it topped at 800x600 unless you went SLI

TNT2 put nvidia on the map and 3dfx had to start playing catchup for the first time. The Geforce 256 probably killed 3dfx and the Geforce2 was just the nail in the coffin.

People say Rampage would have saved the company, I really don't think so. I think the engineering team for Rampage was largely responsible for the FX5800 and we all know how that went.

I think nvidia bought 3dfx for its patents, rather than its technologies or even its brand name. At the time there was a patent legal dispute.
 

ddg4005

Posts: 433   +111
TechSpot Elite
I still remember buying my first Voodoo card back in October of '96. It was Orchid's Righteous 3D card and it changed my gaming life forever. After that came two 12MB Voodoo 2s, a Voodoo 3 3500, and the Voodoo 5 5500 AGP. Quake, Half-Life, and Quake II never looked so good.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 3,545   +3,371
Sigh miss Unreal, especially the dark mode when dark areas were dark and couldn't use gamma to see things sigh fond memories of the voodoo range maybe Nvidia could bring back the Voodoo name when they run out of numbers,,,

I got bored with Quake 3 and got sucked into Unreal Tournament and their Counterstrike-style mod: Strike Force. Those were some amazing wasted hours and days of gaming.
 
My first move into PC gaming was my uncle's Packard Bell Pentium II 233Mhz and I had to play Quake 2, Command and Conquer and Half Life in Software Mode. But back then, the graphics still looked considerably better than on the consoles - I believe Playstation and N64 were the biggest comparisons.

When I got my first PC: an HP 8470c Pavilion with Pentium III 450Mhz, 96MB SDRAM and a 20 GB HDD, it was around about the time Aliens vs. Predator was out and that game absolutely demanded a 3D accelerator card.

I wanted a Voodoo 3 3500 TV AGP because everything I had researched and experienced in the marketing led me to believe that that was the best card I could afford and it was better than most other options. I think I focused mostly on the amount of VRAM and the triangle counts.

I ended up buying the Voodoo 3 3000 instead because the price difference (due to the TV tuner) was so high and I was a lowly college student.

The Voodoo 3 3000 in OpenGL mode made Quake 2 look like a totally different game. Brighter lighting effects, darker, deeper textures. It was amazing. The difference in Half Life wasn't as dramatic, but I was able to run AvP with no issues in max settings. Unreal and Soldier of Fortune were beautiful as well.

As time went on, Voodoo made their way to the Voodoo 5 5500 but prices were so high, I ended up buying a Geforce MX400 instead which was a dramatic difference because I noticed way more detail in my flight sims like JANES USAF thanks to the increase in VRAM to 64MB.

I still have my Pavilion and if I were to build up a "classic" system to run classic games, I'd probably get the most powerful Voodoo I could run on it - even the 3500TV AGP - although the low Mhz would severely limit the number of games I could run to virtually everything prior to 2002. Many of my favorite games of that era will not run on my Windows 10, Core i9ex/2080Ti/64GB DDR4 simply because of the drivers. I would love to be able to play Yuri's Revenge and the rest of the C&C games but they won't run.

...or get the best Geforce card of the time.

And as you pointed out: Nostalgia will cost you...
That's the reason why I believe in spending the money to max out the RAM that the motherboard will handle and buying my accessories up front - including the best video cards of the time. This way, further down the road, the tower itself will be "as good as it can be" so if you choose to sell it to a nostalgia builder or ever return to it yourself, you won't have to worry about searching for better hardware because you'll already have the best you can have.

They want large amounts of cash for many of those classic cards now.

There's a Voodoo 5 5500 right now on Ebay being bidded up - but even if you bought it, you'd have a Hell of a time finding and installing drivers for it. The internet as is has requirements so high that many of the old systems won't even load Google now.
I ended up building a "retro" gaming PC, but I ended up focusing on getting the most powerful hardware that would run on classic windows. Ended up with an nForce 2 motherboard w/ an Athlon XP and the GPU is a Radeon X850 XT PE (cost nearly $100 for an AGP version on eBay). It's admittedly a 2004 GPU, but it does have Win 98 SE / ME support (through a beta driver that seems to work well).