Legendary 3dfx Voodoo 5 Gets Fresh Driver Update To Support Modern Displays

voodoo 5 6000 remix
Do you have a DOS box? No, no, not the excellent DOS emulator software—I'm talking about a dedicated older PC for DOS software. Mostly popular among retro gamers, building a DOS box is a tricky task in 2022 as much of the necessary hardware has shuffled off to the great e-waste landfill in the sky.

Among the rarest of desirable hardware are 3dfx's Voodoo graphics cards, and few moreso than the last generation, the 3dfx Voodoo 5. Only one card ever actually came out, the Voodoo 5 5500 with two VSA-100 chips and 64MB of 166 MHz SDRAM onboard, although the quad-chip Voodoo 5 6000 has seen a bit of a resurgence thanks to efforts by modern-day modders. By modern standards they're pathetically slow, of course, but retro gaming enthusiasts swear by the Voodoo cards' superior Glide performance and excellent image quality.

But also becoming rare and precious are functional CRT monitors. The problem is, if you hook up an old video card like a Voodoo 5 to a modern LCD, you're going to run into an issue that's actually caused by software: no widescreen support. Virtually all modern displays are in widescreen aspect ratios, yet those resolutions are not supported by old graphics drivers.

ut99 voodoo5 widescreen
Unreal Tournament running on Voodoo 5 at 1920x800. Source: Dolenc @ 3dfxzone

Enter the 3dfx Wide Driver, just published by Dolenc over at 3dfxzone forums. It does exactly what it sounds like: adds widescreen support for 3dfx graphics drivers. Not just at the Windows desktop, and not just 16:9, either—you get 16:9 and 21:9 resolution support for OpenGL, Direct3D, and Glide games, although the latter is kind of a gruesome hack.

Non-enthusiasts may not be aware, but driver development for 3dfx cards continued well after the company folded. The latest drivers recommended by most Voodoo fans actually use a full OpenGL ICD ported from the Mesa project. This driver is based on that work, and as the creator says, it's "kinda the best."

For OpenGL and Direct3D applications, everything should work just like on a modern machine—the widescreen resolutions should be enumerated and fully-supported. For Glide, you'll have to use a resolution override in the 3dfx Tools applet, and the resolutions aren't going to be quite what you expect; 16:9 tops out at 1600x900 and 21:9 tops out at 1920x800. That unfortunately means dealing with non-native scaling artifacts on most modern LCDs.

Maybe a 128MB "Changeling" card would perform better?

The thing is, even these resolutions are getting pretty difficult for an old Voodoo 5 card. Remember that these graphics processors were created in an era of 800x600 and 1024x768 gaming. While a Voodoo 5 or GeForce256 could certainly push some games from a few years prior to high framerates or impressively-high resolutions, you're still generally going to be topping out around one megapixel unless you're lucky enough to have a coveted Voodoo 5 6000.

These drivers are for Windows 98 and ME. You probably could get them to work on Windows XP, but good luck. You can grab the download from EasyUpload via the 3dfxzone forums for now, but it should eventually be moved to a more permanent download site. We'll update the article if it does.