Voodoo 3 under scrutiny

Just today I read that Futuremark offers all of their older benchmarks for free. Most of these come from the time when the company was still called MadOnion. The logo also looked like an onion, sort of. I liked that. I wonder why they changed it. Anyway, I took the chance to download 3DMark 99 Max, 3DMark 2000, and 3DMark 2001 SE. Anything newer would not be useful to me, as the video cards I could test are probably too weak for even the 2001 version anyway.

I dabbled a bit with 3DMark 99 Max, and while the testing scores are the same as always, one cool feature of the registered version is the ability to compare your graphic card’s output to a reference image provided by MadOnion, to show the differences in rendering quality. So here are some results with my Voodoo 3. This is not all of them, I took the most interesting ones.

Reference image for the Shooter test.
Voodoo 3 image.

Stats are listed on top. You can see the use of decent texture filtering in the reference image, although I can only guess it’s a mere 2x AF, which was already impressive at the time. The Voodoo 3 image, on the bottom, is recognizable (other than, ehr, the name on it) by the 16bit color attribute on top. The image does look more dithered – perhaps the claims that Voodoo 3 could do 16bits with almost the same quality as 32bits were a bit exagerated. Notice also the lower filtering quality, and remember the V3 didn’t support anisotropic filtering.

Now a few more assorted pictures.

Alpha blending test. The Voodoo 3 doesn’t do nearly as well. An issue due to the limited 4 bits for the alpha channel, compared to the 8 bits of the reference image?
The mipmapping test doesn’t show many differences at first, but on the distance, the Voodoo 3 gets confused a bit. Still doesn’t look bad – I wonder how a much older graphics card, such as the Rage IIc, would fare.
The texture quality test is especially damning for the 3dfx card.

The last test is surprising, though perhaps not so much. Obviously a benchmark would be cutting edge for its time, and the Voodoo 3’s 16MB of memory were not quite the best anymore in 1999, with several cards sporting 32MB. I have already showed the results of this slight difference in my Tonic Trouble test. But this seems much worse, and I wonder how much of the difference can really be explained by texture memory.

To find the answer, the only choice is to try the remaining benchmarks, and a few other cards. So, many other tests await in the future. At least now I have something to do.


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