27 Years Later, Clean Mod Improves Voodoo Graphics Performance Up To 15%

upgraded voodoo installed
Greybeards like your author recall the original 3dfx (then stylized as 3Dfx) Voodoo Graphics card with immense nostalgia. It was the card that brought the term "3D accelerator" to the mainstream with incredible performance in the then-new GLQuake. They generally came with 4MB of EDO DRAM on board, but a YouTuber has created a clean mod to upgrade his Maxi Gamer 3D card to 6MB (and later, 8MB).

maxi gamer 3d
The Guillemot Maxi Gamer 3D card used for the upgrade.

Voodoo Graphics was rather primitive in the way it worked, even for its day. It has a single texture mapping unit and a single "Frame Buffer Interface" (FBI), both separate chips. These two processors each have their own 64-bit memory interface that ordinarily connects to 2MB of RAM running synchronously at 50 MHz, giving the card a 128-bit memory bus, in theory. In practice, because the two memory banks are actually separate, efficiency depends on balanced utilization of the two processors.

voodoo upgrade module
The completed upgrade module by itself. It snaps onto the card's existing memory.

There have been mods like this before that increased the amount of RAM on a Voodoo Graphics card, but it's an incredibly tedious process that involves double-stacking DRAM chips on the card and a ton of extremely careful soldering. YouTuber Bits und Bolts decided to do things a different way, by creating an add-on daughterboard with memory sockets on both sides.

grinding wheel
Bits und Bolts had to grind down the excess plastic in the sockets to make them fit.

It still took a ton of work. He created custom PCBs and then soldered down the memory sockets (as well as grinding off extra material inside the sockets to make them fit correctly), but the final product is a self-contained daughterboard. You can simply snap it down on top of the card's existing memory, connect one wire to the TMU, and bam, you've got a 6MB Voodoo Graphics card.

windows everest
EVEREST for Windows shows the upgraded capacity.

Bits und Bolts mentions that he intends to create a second daughterboard to upgrade the FBI memory as well (giving the card 8MB of RAM), but that project will have to wait for a second video. For now, he tested the 6MB card in 3DMark 99, where it had mixed results. While the FPS game test saw essentially no difference, performance in the "Race" game test was up by 15% over the same card with 4MB.


Critically, the 6MB card was able to stay over 15 FPS throughout the entire race, which probably sounds bad to modern gamers, but low framerates like that were fairly common in that era. Most of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is at 20 FPS or below, and that's one of the most legendary games of all time.

Bits und Bolts' mod unfortunately isn't likely to be compatible with many (or any) other models of Voodoo Graphics card because PCBs weren't standardized in those days and every Voodoo card has a different physical layout for the memory. It's still a clever idea and incredibly well-implemented, though.