Thanks to an auction which ended very well for me (no doubt nobody else wanted this piece of crap), I managed to get my hands on a S3 Trio3D/2X AGP 4MB. This was pretty much the last card from the Virge/Trio line that I wanted. I’m still missing some Virge models, however I do have the original and the DX, and the other ones are really just overclocks and whatnot. On the other hand, with the 3D/2X, S3 apparently made a few changes from the previous chip. But just how many? And does it even matter, when the starting point was so bad?
At least it has one thing to go for it. This is the first card among those in the old S3 line-up to complete a 3DMark 99 run without any particular issues. Sure, the framerate is abysmal, but eveything looks as it should. Well, almost everything: 3-pass embossing only shows a white texture, and there’s still a strange pattern in the filtering test. But at least it works.
And since it works, it’s the first time I can actually trust its final score. Alas, with a miserable 218, it’s the lowest score yet. I assume only a few 1st gen accelerators could go lower. Even the Rage IIc is a lot faster, and that card was terrible – I’ll take its perspective correction issues over the Trio any day. And let’s not even bother with the 6326, comparing the Trio to that is like bringing a knife to a gunfight.
In general, it seems the card is more compatible than the previous Trio, and it also sports better AGP features – if it’s able to show all the textures in 3DMark, there must be some kind of AGP texturing (as also shown by Final Reality), although its performance seems to indicate it’s very slow. Then again, maybe an 8MB model would have been just as bad. Can’t say.
Surprisingly, however, it appears to be a little slower than the Trio. Despite the improved architecture, my framerates appear to be roughly 10-15% lower. The difference decreases as we go up to 800×600. I imagine that, if the architecture wasn’t made any faster but simply more compatible, then having to render all the effects properly would take a toll on the card.
Another strange thing is trilinear filtering – the original Trio actually tried to do it, although it reduced speed by half (and bilinear already reduced speed by almost two thirds – do the math). The 2X doesn’t even bother, it’s technically supported but looks exactly like bilinear and there’s no speed drop anymore.
So to answer my first question, does it even metter if the architecture has been improved? I guess not. This card was the equivalent of installing some snazzy rear mirrors and windscreen wipers to the original Fiat 500. It wasn’t gonna make it any faster, and you were still stuck with an antique that would have made any Homo Erectus proud.