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Review: 3dfx Mac Voodoo4 4500 PCI Graphics Card
By Mark A.
Review date: 11/9/2000

2D Performance Tests Results
Intro | 2D Performance | 3D Performance | Game Performance | Install | Summary
2D Applications Performance

Overall, image quality is pleasingly clear, bright, and steady. However, as with the installation process, there were a few immediate glitches.

First, the Monitors control panel (as well as the Monitor Resolution control strip module) offers a number of "Recommended" resolutions that are not supported by the connected monitor. I haven't been brave enough to try one of these and see what happens. Second, image color feels a bit too warm, giving whites a slight sepia tint. This could be mostly--but not completely--corrected using the monitor's image controls. (It's a problem that will rear its ahead again, more severely, in a bit.)

Third, the display was rock steady at every tested resolution except one: 640x480 @ 60hz. At this resolution and refresh rate, the display wavers like your Aunt Madge's old TV while she's running the vacuum cleaner. This does not occur at other refresh rates or resolutions. Thus it wouldn't be a problem--except that many games choose this refresh rate when set to 640x480, as does QuickTime Player when presenting a movie fullscreen. So it is, in fact, a serious issue.

Other than these quirks and tics, 2D performance of the Voodoo4 excels. Scrolling feels fast and smooth in a variety of applications, and screen redraws happen in an eyeblink. To compare performance with the Voodoo5, I replicated the Photoshop 5.5 and Word98 scrolling tests used in Mike Breeden's review. For these tests, the Voodoo4's 2D acceleration options were all set to their default values. Note that shorter bars are better.

Word and PShop tests

(Voodoo5 results are taken from Mike's review. Disparities in the results are likely due to slight differences in the speeds of the test systems, as well as to the fact that the exact same test files were not used; instead, the test files were reconstructed according to Mike's specifications.) [Note - the PS 5.5 test file is easy to reproduce, the flowers.psd sample file resampled to 300dpi, however the huge word test file I used could not be easily reproduced, so consider that in the test results. For practical purposes, the Voodoo5 and Voodoo4 should perform the same in 2d literally (especially considering stopwatch timing margins for error/repeatability), since the Voodoo5 uses only 1 chip for 2D. There may be some overhead for the 2nd chip in the card.-Mike]

As the results show, 2D performance of the Voodoo4 is similar to that of the Voodoo5--or even a touch faster. This makes sense, as the Voodoo5 uses only a single VSA chip when operating in 2D mode. This means that, for 2D graphics, the Voodoo5 holds no advantage over the Voodoo4.

Like 2D performance, QuickTime movie playback was excellent overall, but with a couple of quirks. Movies, such as the high-bandwidth The Lord of the Rings Internet preview, played smoothly when scaled to any size and did so without obviously dropping frames. However, some QuickTime banner adds displayed in Sherlock 2 were garbled and distorted.

This same garbling occurred with the splash screen at the start of the new Dungeons & Dragons: The Movie high-bandwidth trailer. However, once the trailer began playing, it did so smoothly and with excellent visual quality (none of which could hide the fact that this movie looks as stinky as an unwashed orc). In general, it seems there are still a few bugs to work out with the Voodoo4's otherwise excellent 2D and QuickTime acceleration.

The next page covers 3D performance in non-game applications.

Index of 3dfx Voodoo4 4500 PCI Review

Intro | 2D Performance | 3D Performance | Game Performance | Install | Summary

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