Voodoo5 Reactions Around The Web
6:00 AM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story
As the press blackout on the 3dfx Voodoo5 5500 PCI for Mac OS lifted yesterday at 5 PM Pacific, a flood of articles hit the web, as expected. Along with IMG's own preview of this card, MacGaming, Mac Gamer's Ledge, Accelerate Your Mac, Mac Observer, Bare Feats, PC hardware site Sharky Extreme and Penstar Systems all posted previews of this cutting-edge card. As most of the sites had very little time to actually work with the cards, reactions vary widely from article to article. Some include benchmarks, while others did not due to time constraints.
The Sharky Extreme article is predictably quite harsh in its appraisal of the card and the G4/450 they used for a demo test bed; their comparison to a PC should not be taken to heart, however - a 933 MHz Pentium III, despite Steve Jobs' hype about the G4 chip, is a much faster machine. Its memory bus is over twice the speed of the G4 machine, and the Voodoo5 drivers on the PC side have been through several speed revisions so far.
Another preview well worth reading is at Penstar Systems; this site has had a very tight relationship with 3dfx in the past, and their article delves deeper into the technical aspects of this card. The benchmarks will give you an idea of how this card might perform in a slower Mac, but again we must caution all of our readers that these benchmarks are totally preliminary, and they do not reflect the numbers of a final, shipping product.
As for our own V5 preview, we have received much feedback, both positive and negative, and we appreciate both kinds - video card evaluation and benchmarking is fearsomely complex and there are many factors to consider. We want to emphasize again that this is only a preview; we also want to mention that the two games used to benchmark this card are the total worst-case-scenario games, with brutal system requirements and heavy CPU demands. Many other games that we have played with this card, including Descent III, Episode One: Racer, Dark Vengeance, Quake II, Future Cop: LAPD, Myth II: Soulblighter and many others showed tremendous increases in speed, image quality and playability with this card over a Voodoo3 or Rage 128. 50+ FPS with 2x FSAA at 800x600 is very common in most games, and peaks of 80 FPS can be seen in many games. Descent III, a great bargain-bin find at $19.95, is practically a new game.
In their present form these cards are indeed limited by both driver optimization and Apple's PCI implementation. AGP cards with properly optimized drivers should create dramatic gains in performance, according to several sources we have talked to. We have also learned that Ken Dyke, the man behind the Voodoo3 drivers for 3dfx, has left the company; this loss may slow down the optimization of the Voodoo5 drivers somewhat, although Bryan Speece emphasized again and again in a phone conversation that they are very serious about optimizing the drivers and will work hard in this area.
Penstar Systems V5 Preview
In any case, read this wide variety of reactions to the debut of these cards on our platform to get an idea of the many issues surrounding 3D card performance on the Mac. Frames per second is not the end-all of gaming, despite what the PC hardware sites say - image quality, compatibility and headroom for future games are also critical factors, and have to be taken into consideration. When you've read your fill, be sure and join the discussion in our Forums.
Bare Feats V5 Preview
Voodoo5 5500 - What Do You Think?
Mac Observer V5 Preview
Sharky Extreme V5 Preview
Mac Gamer's Ledge V5 Preview
Accelerate Your Mac V5 Review
MacGaming V5 Preview
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