World’s First Voodoo 4 Powered Laptop Lives 24 Years After The Death Of 3dfx

m4800 mxm card
3dfx Voodoo graphics processors never gained much traction in the laptop market in their day, because putting a power-thirsty discrete graphics processor—an idea that 3dfx arguably pioneered—into a laptop was seen as an absurd venture at the time. Despite that, 24 years after the launch of the 3dfx Voodoo4 4500, incidentally the same year NVIDIA bought the company, one very dedicated enthusiast has created what he calls a "Voodoo 4 M4800"—a Voodoo 4 on an MXM card for laptops.

The enthusiast in question, Daniel Simionescu, an active member of the x3dfx group on Facebook, is known as "sdz" on the Vogons forums. Vogons, for those unfamiliar, is a forum for enthusiasts of old PC hardware and old PC games, and thanks to this, it has become basically the most authoritative site on the internet when it comes to those topics. sdz has been posting for the last week about his successes and struggles along the way with this project.

m4800 in laptop
The final (for now) product: Voodoo 4 M4800 installed in a Dell Precision M4800 laptop.

There's no tricks, no "gotchas", no fakery like sticking a Raspberry Pi in an NES cartridge and claiming you made the NES play DOOM. sdz has actually created a custom MXM carrier board for the Voodoo VSA-100 processor and with a little help from an FPGA, hooked it up to a laptop through an MXM slot. The laptop in question is a Dell Precision M4800—quite a bit newer than any Voodoo products, as it uses 4th-gen Intel Core processors, but old enough that it can still work well with Windows XP.

m4800 in carrier
The M4800 installed into an MXM carrier for use with a desktop PC.

Like many latter-day Voodoo enthusiast products, sdz's Voodoo 4 project offers both overclocking and the option to increase the memory capacity from the original 32 MB to 64 MB. With the extra RAM and an overclock to 192 MHz (from 166 MHz stock), he gets a 3DMark 2001 SE result of 2035 3DMarks—among the highest ever recorded for a single VSA-100 chip.

You can see the Voodoo 4 MXM card playing the 3DMark 2001 "Chase" benchmark in the video above. It's not plugged into a laptop in that demo, but instead is hooked up to a desktop PC using the aforementioned carrier board. Still, the video signal is coming right out of the Voodoo card.

m4800 vs 4500agp
The MXM card compared to an original 3dfx Voodoo 4 4500 AGP card.

At this stage, sdz has it pretty much working—the biggest problem is that he can't overclock it while it's in the laptop. He suspects this issue is down to a problem with the system. Answering a question from another user, he noted that he doesn't plan to sell these, but if you're really interested in having a Voodoo 4 M4800, he's going to open source all the necessary materials so you can build it yourself.
Tags:  3dfx, MXM, mods, 3dfx voodoo