link to
Voodoo3 2000
Review: 3Dfx Mac Voodoo3 2000
How It Compares to the Voodoo2, Game Wizard, Rage128 Orion & Game Rocket

By Mike

Published date: 7/26/1999
Mac Gamers never had it so good!

Dec. 2000 Update: 3dfx is being bought out by Nvidia and looks to be closing. Their driver links are also likely to vanish soon.

Nov 1999 Update: This review was written for the first driver release. With the late driver release you no longer need to use MesaGL extensions/libs - there is a native 3dfx OpenGL extension (so remove any mesa files). A Voodoo3 3000 PCI is now available (tested in the 3D Card Roundup). Also tested there is an AGP Voodoo3 3000 in the new G4/AGP systems (the only macs that have an AGP slot to date.)

Beta Voodoo3 Driver Limitations: (Comments based on the first driver releases) The beta drivers have the following limitations:

  • They surely contain bugs which may never be fixed (as far as a public release)
  • There is no Quicktime hardware acceleration
  • Resolutions and refresh rates are limited. For instance 1152x870 has only 75Hz support. With the Sony F400 attached, I can select 1600x1200/85Hz rates - the maximum that monitor can handle. There may be higher resolutions supported with a higher res. monitor.. There is no 832x624 mode (only 800x600).
  • There is no "official" end-user support.

I see a lot of people asking or mentioning about 'updates' and Quicktime acceleration. Never assume that will happen if you go the PC card/Beta driver route. You've been warned...

Without any delay let me say that 3Dfx's Mac beta developer drivers and ROM for the Voodoo3 2000 PCI card are impressive, delivering the best game framerates I've seen from any Mac graphics card to date along with excellent image quality. My Voodoo3 2000 PCI Card flashed easily with their utility and is running very well in the 66MHz PCI slot of my B&W G3/400 (the card is 33/66MHz PCI compatible). As a bonus, the updated Quake 2 MesaQuake2/glref.lib works with the Voodoo3 to add single pass multitexturing (previously only on the Voodoo2). In some cases the Voodoo3 delivered performance at higher resolutions that was up to twice as fast as the Rage128 Orion.

Voodoo3 2000 PCI Card Specs:

  • 33MHz and 66MHz PCI Slot compatible
  • 143MHz Chip Clock/143MHz Memory Clock (3000 and 3500 cards have 166/166 and 183/183 speeds respectively)
  • 300MHz RAMDAC (350MHz on 3000/3500)
  • 16MB SDRAM
  • Single pass, single cycle multi-texturing
  • Single pass, single cycle bump mapping
  • Single pass, single cycle trilinear mip-mapping
  • Dual 32-bit texture rendering pipeline
  • Alpha blending
  • Programmable fog tables
  • Sub-pixel and sub-texel correction
  • 128-bit 2D accelerator
  • 16-Bit color 3d engine/Z-buffer (proprietary 22-bit color scheme). To me Voodoo3 image quality is excellent, especially with their new updated drivers on the PC (likely the same improvements will be available for the Mac as well). [Links to details on these at 3dfx site removed after they closed]
  • Max 256x256 Texture size (note that even Quake3 is said to only have a few textures larger than this)
  • Resolutions: 640x480 (up to 160Hz) to 2046x1536 (60Hz) based on PC specs

Although I figured this was common knowledge since the Mac has supported multiple monitors and cards since the late 80's nubus Mac days, the Voodoo3 of course can work with other 2D video cards like the Rage128. You just need a separate monitor for the Voodoo3 card. Unlike the Voodoo1 or Voodoo2, there is no passthrough cable used for the Voodoo3. See my FAQ's 3Dfx video card topic area for more info on the various 3Dfx card designs and features.

Although many Mac owners may want to wait for the Mactell or other 'Mac supported' Voodoo3 cards (including the 3500), here is the procedure for flashing a PC Voodoo3 2000 PCI card with the Mac firmware.

How to Flash a PC Voodoo3 2000 PCI Card:

  1. READ THE DOCS WITH THE 3dfx VOODOO3 DRIVER DOWNLOAD FIRSTIf you're not experienced with installing PCI cards or working inside your computer, get someone qualified to do this or buy a different retail Mac graphics card that does not need flashing the ROM to work.

  2. Shut down the Mac and disconnect AC power. Insert the Voodoo3 2000 PCI card in your Mac. Make sure you have some other video card installed since until the flash ROM is updated, you'll get no video from the Voodoo3 card.

  3. Run the 3dfx Voodoo3 flasher utility which will automatically find the Voodoo3 card - it will prompt you for what card to flash (just enter the card number - usually only 1). It will offer you the option to save the existing PC ROM image file in case you want to ever run the card in a PC again. Make sure you save your PC Bios to disk! - you only get one chance to do this and that's on the first flash. After that the card no longer has the PC firmware of course.

  4. After flashing the ROM, copy the 3dfx extensions (2d accelerator, resource manager, Glide 2 and Glide 3 extensions, OpenGL extension, etc.) into your system folder Extensions folder and restart. Copy the Prefs file to the system folder, Preferences folder.

  5. Upon rebooting your Voodoo3 card should be working fine and providing video out. Note: If your Mac has Onboard Video - make sure that no Mac/VGA adapters are left on the onboard video port! This makes the mac think there is a monitor connected and will cause problems.

  6. Note: The Glide2 and Glide3 extensions for the Voodoo3 are different than the Voodoo2 (at least revision/size wise) and you can't use the Voodoo2 extensions with the Voodoo3.

Mac Systems Compatibility: The follow are systems that either I or readers have tested:

  • May not be compatible with some older Macs running L2 Cache Slot G3 CPU upgrades based on early reports. Later reports are more positive.
  • Apple G4 systems (DVD player requires ATI Rage128 card however!)
  • Blue and White G3 (in 66MHz and 33MHz PCI slots)
  • Beige G3 (remove any Mac/VGA adapters when switching over to the Voodoo3 or use dual monitors)
  • Apple 73/75/76/85/86/95/9600
  • J.R.Kuhnen reported that the Voodoo 3 runs fine in the PM 5500, PM5400, Umax Apus 3000!
  • APS MPower 604E200 (StarMax clone)
  • Umax S900 (use one of the top 2 PCI slots for best performance)
  • PowerComputing Systems: PowerCenter Pro, PowerTower Pro and Powerbase reported as OK by readers. Other models should work but I've not tested personally.

Click the small image below for a Extensions manager picture of the installed 3Dfx Voodoo3 extensions [Note: this image was taken from the first beta release, which had no OpenGL or RAVE extensions, which are in the later beta releases.]

click me

If you missed it, I posted a page previously about 3Dfx's Mac Voodoo2 drivers including SLI setup and performance. Scores from that page are shown below, but the illustrations/setup info for the Voodoo2 isn't duplicated here.

3Dfx Voodoo3 Driver Game Compatibility:
I don't own every 3D Mac game of course, but here is a list of what I found that works and doesn't work from tests with a Voodoo3 2000 PCI card in a B&W G3/400 running OS 8.6. Note that these tests were run with the initial beta version of the drivers. 3Dfx is supplying information to developers to ensure compatibility with the Voodoo3 and to encourage support for higher than 960x720 resolution in Glide games. Glide 3 also brings improved image quality and filtering I'm told as well as better performance.

Voodoo 3 Games Compatibility List:

  • Carmageddon 1: Beta 2 ROM/drivers allowed this game to run according to a reader report.
  • Carmageddon 2: Don't use the Carma 3Dfx icon, use top level Carmageddon 2 icon.
  • Descent I 3dfx version (Descent II should work also)
  • Descent III Glide (beta)
  • FutureCOP 1.01 'perfect' up to 1024x768 a readers says in the database
  • Quake 1 RAVE (need 2 monitor setup to access video screen)
  • Quake 2 via MesaQuake2 lib (with multitexture support) [If you're having problems switching res. turn off fullscreen in video options]
  • Q3test 1.08 via Mesa3DfxEngine extension
  • Myth TFL v1.3 worked flawlessly Randall says.Unlike myth 2, you need to ENABLE resolution switching.
  • Unreal v224 (prev. versions have image problems.) To access the Advanced Settings Control Panel use the Command+F to toggle to windowed mode first.
  • TombRaider II (disable movies in TR II Setup) Ditto for TR Gold.
  • ShadoWarrior 3dfx
  • X-plane 5.03 Using mesa's 3dfxEngine 3.1b6 (or later)
  • Games based on the Unreal engine should work if they are based on the Unreal v224 rev code (Klingon Honor Guard isn't).
  • RAVE: Using the Voodoo2 (or Game Wizard) RAVE extension is said to allow many RAVE games to work. Bugdom does not work a reader says (ATI RAVE dependent I suspect, as even Formac told me some RAVE games rely on ATI extensions to RAVE.) A reader later wrote that Dark Vengence and Nanosaur worked (mixed reports on Nanosaur, some say software mode only). Be aware some RAVE games rely on ATI RAVE extensions and may not be compatible.

Problem Game List:

  • Quake 1: (3dfx version) did not work as confirmed by programmer Ken Dyke. Perhaps the pre-1.09 (original) Quake version would however, as 1.09 apparently introduced a problem by adding Voodoo1 specific glide calls (a workaround was included in the Game Wizard Glidelib apparently).
  • F-18 Korea: ran fine, but a crash upon exiting a mission. (the plane and the Mac) [from Randall Markarian's post in the Game News]
  • Klingon Honor Guard: Texture Problems. Needs update to Unreal v224 code (unknown if this will happen due to low sales of the game).
  • Myth 2: Kent Kanja sums up the issues: "If you force it to NOT switch resolutions on entry/exit it works fine in that respect. The other problem is that the cursor does not get unhidden after leaving the full-screen 3d mode. You can still click on things - blindly - or use the keyboard command-key equivalents. You enter full-screen 3d mode whenever you play a single/multi player game, play the tutorial, or view a saved film."
  • Starcraft 1: - switching resolutions results in a black screen. I suspect this is due to Voodoo1/2 code in the game and may be a problem in all 2D games of this type. One reader w/v 1.05 reported he gets only a black screen at startup (but hears the game playing)

About Virtual PC: In case you're wondering, Virtual PC can't take advantage of the card apparently and as noted in my FAQ, even a Voodoo2 running under VPC is not enough for PC 3D games. Even with a 400+ MHz G3 and a Voodoo2, PC 3D Games (current crop of 3D games) often have framerates under 10 fps. It's just asking too much of a software emulation.

As regular readers know since December 1998 (noted in my Q&A with VT on the Banshee), the 3Dfx 2d/3d chips (at least the current Banshee and Voodoo3) have an issue with the MacOS as far as 16-bit color 2D mode is concerned. The MacOS doesn't support 565 Pixel format mode (only 555) so 3Dfx, like Village Tronic worked around this issue and it's nothing to be concerned about (in 2D mode you lose 16 shades or red). 3D game (full screen) modes are not affected and anyone concerned with 2d image work normally uses millions colors so I mention this only in passing. Ken Dyke of 3Dfx has covered this before here in my 3dfx forums and in the game news page. I won't spend any more time repeating it here as I don't think it's an issue gamers need be concerned with. A good summary of the issue was noted by Ken Dyke of 3Dfx in my forum recently:

"The effect of losing one bit of red essentially means that you only have 16 available shades of red rather than the normal 32 for the 'thousands' color mode. Unless you're doing photographic work (or maybe running some 2D game with really dark artwork) you probably won't notice much of a difference. (My NeXT Color Turbo only does 4/4/4 RGB and looks beautiful, btw.) However, serious photographic stuff is best done in millions mode, which doesn't have a problem.

2D Performance:

I used the accepted standard for 2D benchmarking, Macbench rather than the more limited Norton utilities benchmarks. Macbench runs a scripted series of tests that mimics actual application use rather than just a series of simple quickdraw primitives. Since the ROM version I had was a beta, 1152x870 mode was not enabled (it is now Ken says), and Macbench would not run the high-res Pub Graphics tests at 1152x864 (the closest mode available in my early beta) so I've included only tests at 1024x768, thousands colors and millions colors. Both the Rage128 and Voodoo3 2000 were running in the 66MHz PCI slot of the B&W G3/400.

1024x768 Thousands Colors Tests
Macbench 16bit tests
1024x768 Millions Colors Tests
Macbench 32bit tests

Although it's only 4% (thousands colors) to 10% (millions colors) faster at the MacBench (2D) tests than the Rage128 Orion in my B&W G3/400, I was very impressed the beta drivers outperformed the Orion, considering the time that ATI has had to optimize their drivers. The significantly faster clock speed of the Voodoo3's engine and memory bus are a plus and performance may be improved in the final versions of the ROM/driver.

Note: Initial tests with the early beta drivers showed the Voodoo3 2000 was about 10% slower in MacBench than the Rage128 Orion in my 9600/350 (overclocked to 400MHz) running OS 8.1. 10% is not enough difference to notice in real world applications use however, especially when you're talking 2D performance.

3D Apps (OpenGL) Performance:

As I suspected after my review of the Game Rocket (3Dfx Banshee based), Lightwave 3D 5.6D (OpenGL) ran fine on the Voodoo3, with fully shaded previews in layout mode. Lightwave tests were run on a 9600/350 (overclocked to 400MHz) with Mesa3DfxEngine installed. Click on the image below to see the full size screenshot.

Click Me
Voodoo3 screen from Lightwave 3D 5.6D

OK, let's get to what you're really interested in - how the Voodoo3 performs in games.

Game Performance:

In general the Voodoo3 2000 delivered better game performance than any Mac graphics card I've tested to date, even better than a dual Voodoo2 SLI setup. Although there will be no RAVE game support from 3Dfx (not an issue with OpenGL or glide/3Dfx games), companies like Mactell may provide RAVE drivers for their Voodoo3 Mac products. Since the hottest new 3D games offer Glide or OpenGL supportwhich the Voodoo3 runs blistering fast, you won't be disappointed. For the first time I saw framerates exceed 100fps (peak) in Unreal. The Voodoo3 was also the only card that delivered over 50 fps at 1024x768 in Quake2, almost exactly twice as fast as the Rage128 in the same B&W G3 66MHz PCI slot.

To compare game performance I used some of the most popular Mac games that have 3Dfx Glide or OpenGL accelerated modes: Quake 2 (OpenGL, using the MesaQuake2 lib), Quake3Test (OpenGL via Mesa3DfxEngine), Unreal (Glide) and Falcon 4 (Glide). I've included results from other cards like the Rage128 Orion, GameRocket (3dfx Banshee chip) and Voodoo2 taken from my Rage128 vs GameRocket review.

Screenshots with the Voodoo3 had similar problems as the IXMicro Game Rocket so they are not suitable for posting (this is something that may be addressed in an update to MesaGL). Rest assured however that in-game image quality was excellent; as good or better than any Mac game card I've seen. In fact the general opinion is that the Voodoo3 has better image quality than the Voodoo2.

To give you some idea of just how fast the Voodoo3 really is, I've included comparisons to the Game Wizard Voodoo2 card (and pairs of PC Voodoo2s in SLI mode), an ATI Rage128 Orion and IXMicro Game Rocket. Note: Any time you see 'Voodoo2.ini' in the table of results that means the Voodoo2 card was using my tweaked (but not overclocked) ini file - see my Voodoo2 Tweaking page for more info or to download the file.

For information on how to test framerates in games like Quake1, Quake2, Q3test and Falcon 4, see the Games section of my Frequently Asked Questions.

OpenGL performance of the Voodoo3 was outstanding in the B&W G3/400, besting every other card at almost every test. The 1024x768 scores were dramatically better than any 2d/3d card I've tested and about twice the performance of the ATI Rage128 Orion.

To avoid people thinking that my overclocked 9600/350 has a G3 upgrade, I've listed it in the table as 'OC 9600/350', since I modified the Apple 604E CPU card to run at 400MHz.

Game Performance Results:

Quake 2:

I installed Quake 2 (full install) and ran the standard timedemo tests. As noted, tests with the Voodoo2 and Voodoo3 were run with and without the new MesaQuake2/refgl.lib updates that enable multitexturing on those cards. (Currently there is no multitexturing support for the Rage128 in Quake2.) Tests in the B&W G3 were run with the Rage128 and Game Rocket in both the 66MHz and 33Mhz PCI slots. The Voodoo3 tests (for now) were run only in the 66MHz PCI slot. Later I'll have Voodoo3 performance results in other Macs (604e systems) as well, but due to my trip to Macworld I've only had time to run Quake2 tests in the 9600/350.

Quake2 Settings: For the 3Dfx cards, the MesaSettings file had Vsync disabled. All tests used the same Quake2 in-game settings:

  • 16 bit color
  • No 8-Bit textures
  • Low audio quality
  • No sync every frame
  • CD audio disabled

The chart below shows the results of Quake2 Demo 1 tests at 640x480 to 1024x768 mode.

Q2 Timedemo 1 results

The following tables show timedemo 1 and 2 scores at resolutions from 640x480 to 1024x768.

Quake 2 640x480 Demo 1 Demo 2
B&W G3/400/66 Voodoo3 2000
With new GL Lib
54.1 50.8
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2 SLI
With new GL Lib
48.9 46.2
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2.ini
With new GL Lib
(3Dfx driver)
51.5 48.9
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2.ini
With new GL Lib
(GameWizard driver)
47.1 44.9
B&W G3/400/66 Voodoo3 2000
Without new GL Lib
46.8 45.3
B&W G3/400/66 Rage128 47.3 45
B&W G3/400/33 Rage128 45.6 44.1
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2.ini
(GameWizard driver)
41.7 40.7
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2
Original refGLlib
(GameWizard driver)
36.6 35.4
OC 9600/350 Voodoo3 2000
With new GL Lib
29.8 28.2
B&W G3/400/66 GameRocket 29.3 27.9
OC 9600/350 Rage128 29.3 27.5

800x600 Results:

Quake 2 800x600 Demo 1 Demo 2
B&W G3/400/66 Voodoo3 2000
With new GL Lib
53.8 51.0
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2 SLI
With new GL Lib
48.6 46.3
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2.ini
With new GL Lib
(3Dfx driver)
48.5 46.7
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2.ini
With new GL Lib
(GameWizard driver)
45.2 43.9
B&W G3/400/66 Voodoo3 2000
Without new GL Lib
40.2 40.8
B&W G3/400/66 Rage128 39.6 38.9
B&W G3/400/33 Rage128 36.1 35.8
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2.ini
(GameWizard driver)
34.8 34.8
OC 9600/350 Voodoo3 2000
With new GL Lib
29.3 27.7
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2
Original refGLlib
(GameWizard driver)
29.2 29.6
B&W G3/400/66 GameRocket 27.3 27.3
OC 9600/350 Rage128 26.5 25.7

1024x768 Results:
(Voodoo2 can only run this resolution in SLI/dual card mode)

The chart below shows the results of Quake2 timedemo tests at 1024x768 mode.

Quake2 Voodoo2 1024x768 chart

Quake 2 1024x768 Demo 1 Demo 2
B&W G3/400/66 Voodoo3 2000
With new GL Lib
52.5 50.2
B&W G3/400/66 Voodoo3 2000
Without new GL Lib
33.7 34.1
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2 SLI
With new GL Lib
47.7 46.1
OC 9600/350 Voodoo3 2000
With new GL Lib
29.0 27.7
B&W G3/400/66 Rage128 25.3 25.4
B&W G3/400/33 Rage128 23.6 23.7
B&W G3/400/66 GameRocket 20.8 21.1
B&W G3/400/33 GameRocket 20.3 20.2
OC 9600/350 GameRocket 19.8 19.6
OC 9600/350 Rage128 18.1 17.1

Note: As shown above the Voodoo3 2000 PCI delivered the best scores I've seen in the B&W G3/400, about twice the rate of a Rage128 Orion at 1024x768 in Quake2. Even in the 9600/350, it was significantly faster (30%+) at 1024x768 than the Rage128 Orion.

Quake 2 Shadows On/Off Performance Tests:

All tests above were done with the default Quake 2 shadows off. The command to enable shadows is 'gl_shadows 1' (gl_shadows 0 turns them off). You can add 'set gl_shadows "1"' to your config.cfg file to make it a default option. I ran tests with and without shadows enabled in Quake 2 to see what performance effect shadows had when enabled on the various cards. The table below shows the results. Again the Voodoo3 was the best performer.

Quake 2 Timedemo Scores
(Shadows On/Off - 640x480 res.)
Shadows OFF
Shadows ON
B&W G3 400
Voodoo3 2000
(w/new RefGL lib)
54.1 fps
44.0 fps
66MHz PCI Slot
B&W G3 400
Voodoo2 12MB
(w/new RefGL lib)
(3dfx driver)
51.5 fps
42.3 fps
Not overclocked
B&W G3 400
Voodoo2 12MB SLI
(w/new RefGL lib)
48.9 fps
40.2 fps
Dual Cards
Not overclocked
B&W G3 400
Voodoo2 12MB
(w/new RefGL lib)
(GameWizard driver)
47.1 fps
38.9 fps
Not overclocked
B&W G3 400
Voodoo2 12MB
41.7 fps
35.0 fps
Original refgl.lib
Tweaked/not overclocked
B&W G3 400
Game Rocket
(IXMicro Banshee)
29.3 fps
24.7 fps
PCI Slot
B&W G3 400
Rage128 Orion
47.3 fps
42.9 fps
PCI Slot

Q3Test 1.05/1.08:

The table below has been updated with results from Q3test 1.08 as well as the original 1.05 results. There was plenty of RAM in each system to allow virtual memory to be disabled. If the card supported it, I ran tests up to 1024x768 resolution. The latest version of Mesa3DfxEngine was used with the 3dfx cards to provide OpenGL support. Graphics settings in the game were:

  • 16-bit color
  • Lightmap lighting
  • Geometric detail high
  • Texture quality 16-bit
  • Texture detail 1 notch from max
  • Texture filter - bilinear

Q3test scores for the Voodoo3 were nearly flat across all resolutions, indicating the card has performance headroom and was CPU bound. Although it was a few fps behind the Rage128 at 640x480 with the first beta drivers, notice the difference at 1024x768 where the Voodoo3 was approximately 35% faster. The Voodoo3's performance continued to amaze me and is one tough act to follow for the other card vendors.

Q3Test 1.08 Results
(more tests to follow)
Q3test 1.08 results Demo 1

Q3Test 1.05 Results:
Q3test105 scores

The tables below shows Q3Test performance with each of the card/system combos. (Q3test 1.08 scores first -table will have added results as I finish tests in other systems and with other cards). Note how the Rage128 was faster in the 'spectator' view of demo2 than the first person view (normal game mode) of demo1:

Q3test 1.08 640x480 800x600 1024x768
B&W G3/400/66 Voodoo3 2000 Demo 1: 40.0
Demo 2: 37.1
Demo 1: 39.3
Demo 2: 36.6
Demo 1: 36.7
Demo 2: 35.0
B&W G3/400/66 Rage128
Demo 1: 35.6
Demo 2: 38.9
Demo 1: 28.5
Demo 2: 34.1
Demo 1: 19.4
Demo 2: 24.3
B&W G3/400/66 Rage128
Demo 1: 30.7
Demo 2: 36.3
Demo 1: 22.1
Demo 2: 28.2
Demo 1: 11.4
Demo 2: 17.7

Q3test 1.05 640x480 800x600 1024x768
B&W G3/400/66 Voodoo3 2000 48.2 47.8 45.8
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2 SLI
(dual cards)
39.3 38.9 36.9
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2
(one card/3dfx drivers)
46.2 40.7 not supported
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2
(one card/GameWizard drivers)
45.1 40.2 not supported
B&W G3/400/66 Rage128 51.2 42.9 29.7
B&W G3/400/33 Rage128 48 34.9 19.1
B&W G3/400/66 GameRocket 31.7 30.9 21.9


For all the results listed here I used the latest version of Unreal, 224b4. Tests with the Voodoo2 and Game Wizard driver showed about a 6 fps gain at 800x600 over my previous v219 with the 1.02b4 patch. The Rage128 and Game Rocket scores were about the same or a bit less than with v219.

I used high quality detail settings for all Unreal tests with resolutions up to 1024x768 for cards that supported it. 3Dfx cards running Unreal in Glide modeare currently limited to 960x720 by the game code. Hopefully with the Voodoo3 drivers release and Voodoo2 SLI support now in 3dfx's drivers, the next Unreal update will offer higher Glide resolutions.

Disable Vsync must have been working as single card Voodoo2 scores (both 3dfx and Game Wizard drivers) showed peaks over 94 fps in 640x480 mode, beyond the 85Hz monitor refresh setting. The Voodoo3 2000 recorded peaks over 105 fps at 640x480.As with all tests, the 2d desktop was set to 1024x768, thousands colors (16-bit) mode.

Voodoo3 on top again in Unreal

Unreal Castle Flyby 640x480 800x600 1024x768
B&W G3/400/66 Voodoo3 2000 50.1 47.6 not supported
in game
B&W G3/400 3dfx Voodoo2
(SLI mode - 2 cards)
47.61 45.58 not supported
in game
B&W G3/400 3dfx Voodoo2
(one card/3dfx drivers)
48.49 39.5 not supported
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2
(one card/Game Wizard driver)
48.0 39.1 not supported
B&W G3/400/66 Rage128 38.3 29.1 21.6
B&W G3/400/66 GameRocket
36.9 29.6 not supported

Falcon 4:

I ran tests of Falcon 4 with the latest 1.06c patch only on the B&W G3/400 (a rev 1 machine). The game features a built-in framerate counter (instantaneous, not average) so I noted what I saw as an average FPS seen during an autopilot run of the 'instant action' mode. I only wish the text size was larger - the tiny text is very hard to see on many monitors, especially against the sky textures.

I found it interesting that Falcon 4 showed '1600x1200' as an available Glide resolution when the Voodoo3 card was installed and 3dfx's Glide extensions were active. Falcon 4 is no speed demon even at 800x600 on a Blue G3/400 with OEM Rage 128 (avg 18fps), so 1600x1200 is not really practical in this game. Voodoo2.ini/.var files seem to have no effect on Falcon 4 Voodoo2 performance. Again the Voodoo3 showed the best performance of any Mac graphics card I've tested.

Falcon 4 Framerates (640x480) Avg FPS Avg
B&W G3/400/66 Voodoo3 2000 28
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2 SLI
(3dfx drivers)
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2
(3dfx driver)
B&W G3/400 Voodoo2
(GameWizard driver)
B&W G3/400/66 GameRocket 23
B&W G3/400/66 Rage128 Orion 21

B&W G3/400/66 = 66MHz PCI slot

Image Quality: As I've commented before, 3Dfx cards have the most realistic texturing in the game in my opinion; most noticeable on the plane's surface (originally noted in my Rage128 vs Game Rocket games performance page). For those that missed that review here's an example of what I mean:



The Bottom Line:

I was ecstatic over the performance of the beta Voodoo3 drivers. Without a doubt the Voodoo3 is the fastest Mac gaming card ever and also the best bargain. That's a rare combo for Mac owners as we all know from past history.

I want to personally thank 3Dfx for supporting the Mac with Voodoo3 drivers. I hope they do the same with their next generation products as well.

In my opinion, having 3Dfx provide Mac drivers is the best thing for the Mac market and 3Dfx. For too long the Mac consumer and marketplace has been strangled by companies offering 3Dfx cards at prices as much as 3 times higher than the PC version. Adding insult to injury, there were often extended periods of time where the cards were not available even to those willing to pay the price.

In my opinion some companies didn't seem to have the resources to properly develop, market or support the product. Thankfully that era looks to be coming to an end and the future of Mac gaming looks brighter than ever.

Test System Hardware Summary:

The following is a list of specifics on the machines used to run the tests in this article:

  • Apple B&W G3/350/DVD rev 1 (overclocked to 400MHz):
  • 256MB RAM (two 128MB DIMMS)
  • Rage128 Orion video card using ATI Univ. Installer 4.0
  • Stock 6GB IDE Hard Disk (60% full, not defragmented)
  • 24X CDROM drive
  • Voodoo2 cards tested: Game Wizard 12MB Voodoo2 (reviewed here previously). SLI tests used two PC Voodoo2 cards (Creative Labs & Wicked3D)
  • Initio BlueNote PCI SCSI card (for legacy SCSI support)
  • OS 8.6, 6MB Disk Cache, VM off, QT 3.0, QD3D 1.6, complete set of Apple installed extensions.

  • Apple PowerMac 9600/350 (Mach 5 604E CPU) overclocked to 400MHz:
  • 320MB RAM (two stock EDO 32MB, two pairs of 64MB FPM Dimms)
  • Stock 4GB Hard Disk (95% full)
  • Hammerstorage Jackhammer PCI Card
  • Promax Turbomax PCI IDE Controller
  • Kenwood TrueX 52X CDRom drive
  • SCSI ZIP drive (driver v5.x)
  • OS 8.1, 4MB Disk Cache, VM off, QT 3.0, QD3D 1.6

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