The Voodoo5 has been long awaited by many gamers out there. The card has suffered a couple of delays during its developmental stages. The Voodoo5 line is powered by the VSA-100 graphics processors and is 3dfx's latest weapon in the 3D battle. The major feature in Voodoo5 5500 AGP is, of course, its Full Scene Anti-Aliasing (FSAA). The FSAA plays a part in removing jaggy lines and objects. The card uses a whopping 350MHz RAMDAC while having a fill rate of over 667-733 megatexels/megapixels per second.
Here is what part of the 3dfx tools menu looks like:
What is anti-aliasing, and why is it important? Anti-aliasing is the removal of aliasing artifacts. There, got it? Ok, so what are aliasing artifacts? Aliasing artifacts come in two forms: "jaggies," or stairstepping of diagonal lines, and flashing or "popping" of very thin polygons. These spatial artifacts (if you want to get really technical, we're talking about "spatial" aliasing) occur because the scene being rendered is under sampled. (For a more details on the causes of spatial aliasing check out our Anti-Aliasing white paper). Anti-aliasing smoothes the jagged lines and eliminates the scintillating of very thin objects by taking many samples of the scene and blending them together. The result is a much smoother, far more realistic and pleasing image. - 3dfx.com
For more on anti-aliasing, click here
After testing the card on some sports games, 4X FSAA easily generates the best image graphical quality; however, the game speed unfortunately takes a pretty good hit on most of the more graphical sports games. But, after setting it to 2X FSAA from 4X FSAA, the frame rates greatly increased while the changes in graphics quality were hardly noticeable. All the games tested worked like a charm with the Voodoo5 5500. No conflicts at all with compatibility.
First up, I tested one of my current favorite games, Madden 2000. The card does a good job of smoothing out yard lines during certain camera angles that would otherwise be visible without the FSAA technlogy. Madden 2000 suffers unnoticeable frame rate loss with 4X FSAA turned on. The game is very playable with 4X FSAA turned on. The frame rates were constantly playable with everything maxed out, and only at times did it dip to a point where it was choppy. For Madden 2000, there is not much of a difference with 4X FSAA turned on over 2X FSAA. You might notice the improved quality of the graphics on replays, but that is about it. I never thought I would be saying this as a guy, but check out Griese's thigh area in the 3 screen shots shown below. As you can see, there is a pretty good improvement from no FSAA and 2X FSAA. As mentioned before, the 4X FSAA improvements won't be too apparent unless you zoom in on the replays. The FSAA does cause Madden 2000's menu text to be blurry. Please note the screen shots are 600-700kb in size for modem users out there.
Next up to the test was Microsoft's Motocross Madness 2. The game is an excellent choice since Motocross Madness 2 offers many different types of tracks and number of bikers. With 4X FSAA turned on, the max number of bikers (10) and 1280x1024 resolution and all the graphical details turned on, the game ran around 20-25 frames per second. I changed the resolution to 1024x768, and the game ran approximately 28-33 frames per second. Both resolution were very playable for the most part. It got a little rough when all 10 riders were on the screen at once, but other than that, everything was great. However, with 2X FSAA, the game was very playable.
Need for Speed Porsche Unleashed was perhaps the best indicator of the power the Voodoo5 5500 truly holds. First, I turned off the FSAA and tried the game at different resolutions. No slow downs at all but the jaggy edges are very visible. Next up, I tried the game with 2X FSAA. The game was very playable at 1280x1024 32-bit color. Then, I turned on 4X FSAA and tried to max everything out. The game experienced some slowdowns. However, once I turned it down to 16bit color and kept everything constant, the game ran smooth as silk with the awesome graphics with only framerate loss during certain situtations. Take a look below at the difference in the quality of the graphics. With no FSAA, the lines on the car are jaggy and rough. With 2X FSAA, it gets a lot better but still some jagginess. However, with 4X FSAA, there is no more jagginess. Click on the screens below and see for yourself the wonders of the Voodoo5 5500.
The only downside to the Voodoo5 5500 card is the lack of TV In/Out support. Even though you could spend an additional $150 for the necessaries to make TV In/Out possible, a $299 dollar card should, in my opinion, already have TV In/Out support.
All in all, the Voodoo5 5500 AGP card simply makes each and every game out there the way they are meant to be seen. Although I doubt many people will be using 4X FSAA since it causes a considerable slowdown on most games, the 2X FSAA option ups the graphics in the games as well as providing optmized framerates. Maybe future drivers will allow playable framerate speed with 4X FSAA on. The price tag of $299 might be a bit hefty, but so far, it looks like the money will be worth the purchase. Most people factor in the length of time a video card will last till it gets behind in technology. I must say Voodoo5 5500 card will last for a decent period of time and not leave anyone far behind the technology curve for awhile.
We should be adding more to this article as we get a chance to play a bit more with the card and more thoroughly test out the features of the Voodoo5 5500 card.