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

Installation
Intro | 2D Performance | 3D Performance | Game Performance | Installation | Summary
Notes on the Voodoo4 4500 Install

Voodoo 4 PCI

Installing the Voodoo4 couldn't have been easier. I opened the computer's side door, removed the stock ATI Rage 128 (shedding not a tear in the process, believe me), and popped the Voodoo4 into the 66mhz PCI slot. After closing the computer and starting it up, I installed the drivers on the included CD (version 1.0.8) and restarted. First off, I opened the newly installed 3dfx MacTools control panel. (This is the same control panel used by the Voodoo5.) The panel is divided into several tabs that let you easily set display settings as well as 2D and 3D acceleration options, or lets you return to factory defaults.

The 3dfx MacTools control panel also includes a "Check for update" button. After clicking this, [while connected to the internet] I was informed that newer drivers were available (Version 1.1.0), and these were easily downloaded and installed. One more reboot, and I was ready to go. [Note: after the new drivers are installed and you reboot, open the control panel to then flash the ROM (firmware) update into the card-Mike]

Mostly. Even though I had set my computer's display resolution to 1024x768, the resolution throughout the entire boot process was stuck at 640x480. In addition, there was a lot of flickering and resolution changing going on at startup. On a hunch, I zapped the computer's PRAM. (To do this, hold down the Command, Option, P, and R keys while restarting until you hear the startup chime three times, then release.) Happily, this cured the erratic flickering at startup.

Not so easily solved was one other immediately apparent problem. Normally, I adjust the tracking of the Apple Studio Display using the Flat Panel tab of the Monitors control panel. However, installing the Voodoo4 caused this tab to vanish. (My guess is that it requires the presence of ATI hardware.) I was forced to disconnect the monitor's ADB cable and reboot again in order to use the (less convenient) controls on the display itself to adjust tracking and brightness. Of course, this wouldn't be an issue with either a CRT or a DVI flat panel monitor. [see the notes below in the card specs on DVI flat panels, such as the lack of scaling to full screen at lower than native resolutions with the current version of the drivers/rom.-Mike]

Anyway, that done, I was really ready to go.


Software Controls
(The following is from my Voodoo5 review, but since the same software is used for the Voodoo4, it's listed here for reference with my comments.-Mike)

The Voodoo4 4500 used the same 3dfx MacTools Control Panel as the Voodoo5 except that 4xFSAA options are not available with the single-chip Voodoo4. (FSAA with one chip is limited to 2x.) Each page of the Control Panel has options for various levels of 2D and 3D acceleration mode settings and the profile page reports the current firmware version. Bryan Speece told me they are also planning to add game specific control panel settings in the future.

The Control Panel also offers easy updates to firmware and will automatically install updates (no more typing ROM filenames as with the Voodoo3 flasher utility). The images below show each page of the Control Panel:

2D Control Panel Tab

3D Control Tab

Display Control Tab

Profile Tab


Hardware Specifications

3dfx Voodoo4 4500 PCI Specifications:

  • Graphics Engine: Single 166MHz VSA-100 graphics chips
  • 366 MegaPixels/Sec fill rate
  • 32-Bit 3D Engine/32-Bit Z-Buffer support
  • 350MHz RAMDAC
  • Font Cache and Picture Cache (adjustable)
  • 32 MB of SDRAM Video Ram (not upgradeable)
       (memory clock 166MHz)
  • MPEG, Quicktime, Quickdraw 3D/RAVE and OpenGL acceleration
  • Resolutions (max): up to 2048x1536 @85Hz
    (Includes 1600x1024 modes for Cinema & SGI LCDs)
    For a complete list of resolutions supported with Apple's Cinema Display, SGI's LCD and with SVGA monitors see this 3dfx page. (3dfx.com links removed after they went out of business) Note: As of early November 2000 (driver v1.10a), there is no DVI scaling. (I.E. - running games less than the native resolution of the LCD display will result in a black border around the image, not scaling the image to full screen).
  • VGA and DVI Monitor Connectors
    (Note: not compatibile with Sync-on-Green Monitors according to reports)
  • 66MHz and 33MHz PCI Slot Compatible
  • Lifetime Warranty (USA), 10 Year otherwise.
    (Warranty covers use in Apple G3 and later Macs only.)

Requires: 3dfx officially supports the Voodoo4 and 5 when used only Apple G3 or G4 systems. (I.E. Beige G3 or later models, not G3/G4 CPU upgraded older models) Mac OS System 8.5 or higher.

For more information and the latest info on the Mac Voodoo4 4500 - see the 3dfx's Mac Voodoo 4 PCI product page. (link removed after 3dfx closed)

Application and Game requirements will vary as far as CPU and memory requirements. For best results with modern 3D games like Quake3 and Unreal Tournament, I recommend 128MB RAM minimum, 256MB RAM preferred and a G3 or faster CPU.


Index of 3dfx Voodoo4 4500 PCI Review

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

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