As the battle between the two titans of the graphics accelerator industry continues, we are enjoying the fruits of their labors. When we say the two titans we most certainly mean 3dfx and nVidia. Technology has never moved this fast since the beginning of the Intel/AMD war. It's true, in almost every case of industry rivalries, there are always 2 that stand out from the rest - a champion and challenger. AMD and Intel for desktop processors, Western Digital and Maxtor for consumer/cheap hard drives, and the list goes on and on. We can't say that this a bad thing, if there is competition for leadership, there will be better, cheaper products because of it. This can be applied to 3dfx's current race with Nvidia. Although prices are not dropping on new products, speed and features are going up. If you remember a few weeks ago, we posted a Voodoo5 5500 preview after our visit to a 3dfx office here in Texas. This review is the successor of that preview, we will address some of the things we theorized on in the preview and we will introduce you to all the things Voodoo that we haven't mentioned in the preview. That's why this will not be a SUPER long review, the 10 page preview covered such things as FSAA and T-Buffer effects so we don't have to re write it on the review, thank god for previews =).
The Voodoo 5 5500 AGP is 3dfx's newest 3D accelerator and it has a lot of potential and expectations to fulfill. With gaming becoming more realistic than ever, hardware support is not a commodity, it's a necessity. To me it seems that 3dfx has altered their philosophy lately. When the Voodoo3 was released, 3dfx wanted speed, speed, and more speed. Remember, "framerate is king"? With that thought, 3dfx excluded high resolution textures and 32-bit rendering from their Voodoo3, along with many other things. This hit a big nerve with reviewers and gamers alike. It was NVidia fans' best knock for 3dfx fans. While some people disputed the quality increase from 16 to 32-bit's, others said it made the world of difference. This is still an opinion question that will never end. 16-bits equaled faster rendering and that's what mattered to 3dfx. Now, it seems that quality has taken a new priority to 3dfx. The Voodoo5 5500 AGP is loaded with features that enhance visual quality and speed alike. What is advertised most with the Voodoo5 is FSAA, or should I say the critically acclaimed FSAA?
It's true that 3dfx is stressing FSAA as the highlight of the Voodoo4/5, and for good reason. It is something that a gamer shouldn't play without after being experienced first hand. Some of you might be thinking that 640x480 with FSAA is the best it gets but that's not true. 1024x768x16 with FSAA is also possible as I saw 3dfx demos with FSAA at 1024x768; the key is the higher the resolution, the better it looks with AA. The other thing is the entirely new VSA-100 chip, contrary to some popular belief, the VSA-100 is not an upgraded Voodoo3 chip, it's been entirely redesigned to be able to support many new features… especially T-Buffer, FSAA, SLI, etc… Did I mention it's also a heck of a lot faster?