3dfx Voodoo5 5500 PCI

3dfx Voodoo5 5500 PCI - Page 2

The 3dfx Voodoo5 5500 PCI
3D Graphics for a legacy system adds leading edge performance

By Dave "Davo" Altavilla


Installation and Setup
The good stuff

The Voodoo5 5500 PCI installs and runs exactly like its AGP counterpart.  Driver installation can be a little flaky at times but once installed things are very stable.  The card uses one IRQ just like the AGP version and the external power connector sets up the same as well.  The drivers also are identical.

Voodoo5 Color and Anti-Alliasing Tabs (click for full view)


One of the thing we like most about 3dfx product is its high level of "tweakability".  In the top left shot, the color tab allows you to adjust gamma, contrast and brightness for your desktop, Direct 3D apps, OpenGL apps and the Video Overlay, all independently.  There is nothing worse than having to turn gamma up in a game and then when you get back to your desktop, things are all washed out.  The Voodoo5 5500 PCI lets you dial in the image quality to your liking in every environment.

Also, as we all know, the strong suit of the Voodoo5 series of product is its full scene Anti-Aliasing.  Image quality is greatly improved and the "jaggies" are almost completely removed with 3dfx's "fully jittered" sub-sample approach to AA.  We covered this feature extensively in our Voodoo5 5500 Preview but here are a couple of screenshots as a refresher.

4X Full Scene AA @ 800X600X32
(click for full view, images are large)


These shots are JPEGs with no compression and the highest quality setting.  We used them for ease of viewing across multiple platforms but the images are large.  Look at the lattice above in the top left shot.  Typically, all of the lines you see that draw the outline of those images will look very jagged.  However, in all of these shots the images are super clean looking with 4X FSAA.

In addition, FSAA really doesn't shine all that much in Quake 3 Arena.  If you are standing around looking at the scenery, you are pretty much "rail-shot" dust.  One of the most obvious displays of the benefits of FSAA, is with Flight Simulators.  Since the beginning of time it seems, we have been subjected to "texture swimming" and line crawling as planes were drawn against landscapes and other environments.  3dfx has produced a real-time video clip that shows the advantages of FSAA as it relates to Flight Sims and other games, where you can actually see the huge benefit good FSAA brings.

Courtesy of 3dfx Interactive - Real-Time FSAA Demo (click for 7MB MPEG Movie)

The line crawling across the wing on the left hand image, is literally too much to bear when you are exposed to the super clean image on the right hand side.  Once you are spoiled by the likes of the great image quality on the right, average non AA image quality looks uninspiring.

Finally, we want to touch on another neat little tweak that 3dfx has brought to their driver base, called LOD Bias or Level Of Detail.  This feature is control via the "advanced settings" tab in the driver control panel and it really makes a difference.

Voodoo 5 Level Of Detail BIAS setting (click for full view)

The name of this feature, almost tells you exactly what it does.  The LOD BIAS setting adjusts the level of detail in the textures being used in a given game.  A high negative LOD and images look sharper and more detailed.  A higher positive LOD and images will be appear more blurry and less detailed.  Here are a couple of screen shots with an LOD setting of -1.

V5 5500 PCI Screen Shots with LOD of -1 (click for full view)


Look at the left hand shot.  We never knew that fat bastard had a dragon tattooed on his chest!  Now that's a level of detail.  These shots were taken without FSAA enabled.  It is my personal favorite way to play Quake 3, since you can't take the time to appreciate FSAA.  However, with an LOD BIAS setting of -1 and max texture setting, things look really vivid and detailed.



Tags:  PC, 3D, 5500, pci, 3dfx, voodoo, fx

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