Can an Athlon 1GHz with an nVIDIA card keep up with G4/400 and Voodoo5 card at HIGH QUALITY Quake III settings?
First, Max settings at 32 Bit.
I've seen some astronomical frame rates posted by Wintel PC's but when I look at the setup, it's because they are running at low resolution, low texture settings, and low figure details. So, I wondered, what would happen if I raised the video resolution, set the bit depth to 32, used highest geometric detail, highest texture detail & quality, trilinear texture filter, and lightmap instead of vertex? Here's what I found:
Does this surprise you? Two G4 Macs beating up on a Windows PC's running at over twice their clock speed? Two PCI cards beating up on an AGP card? Does my heart good. I think I'll frame this one and hang it on the wall over my work area.
Now, Max settings at 16 Bit.
Lets give the Athlon machine a fighting chance. How about a run at 16 bit instead of 32? And I'll throw in an AGP Voodoo3 3000 on the Mac side just for interest:
This last graph still shows the Mac at an advantage if you consider the Athlon is running at 1000MHz and the G4 is running at 400MHz without the help of AltiVec code!!!
WHEN GAMES LIKE QUAKE III ARE RUNNING AT HIGH REZ, THE MAC CAN HOLD ITS OWN AND EVEN COME OUT ON TOP. And this was with a "pre-release" version of the Voodoo5. Just think what it will do when the drivers are "more efficient." (RobART- I know the GeForce is a faster, newer model of nVIDIA card. I look forward to testing the GeForce and Voodoo5 on a Windows PC as the opportunity arises. In this case, I used the fastest preconfigured Hewlett Packard system sold by CompUSA. It costs $2395 compared to $1895 for a G4/400 with Voodoo5 added.)
IF YOU HAVE A BLUE 'N' WHITE OR YOSEMITE, USE THE 66MHZ PCI SLOT FOR YOUR VOODOO5. You'll get a 5 to 10% gain in frame rates if you do.
I THINK AGP MAY BE OVERRATED. A reader sent me a copy of a benchmarking application (ThroughPut 1.4) that measures the speed at which a Mac transfers information from memory through the bus to either an AGP or PCI card. To my surprise, the maximum transfer rate for an AGP 2X card is indentical that of a PCI/66 card. Furthermore, in a test I ran back in December '99, the Voodoo3 3000 in an AGP 2 slot was only 2% percent faster than the Voodoo3 3000 in a PCI/66 slot when running Quake II and Unreal.
Related Reviews & Counter Point
SHARKEY EXTREME has a comparison between the Mac version and PC version of the Voodoo5 5500. The game graphs start on page 3. He also did a comparison on a Windows PC between the Radeon, Voodoo5, and GeForce2. Quake III graphs start on page 7.
FROM Joel Vink OF SONNET TECHNOLOGY: "Put the Voodoo5 in the Athlon and then the comparison would be fair. Just like the Sharky Extreme article did that you already noted. Sharky rightly concludes how weak the Macintosh is in comparison to the PC world and Apple must realize that users can see the weakness in their Macintosh systems and need performance fixed as much as we need nice enclosures. Your poor benchmark comparison gives Apple a false sense of security..."
He goes on to say, "A TNT2 is 3 generations old from NVIDIA (TNT2, then original GeForce and now GeForce GTS) and been introduced a year and a half ago. The Mac would have to use the original ATI RAGE that shipped with the first Blue and White G3 to be fair. 3dfx themselves compares Voodoo5 against GeForce GTS for the PC. When Apple excels, we give them the credit due. But when Apple is lacking as in video bus, video chip, video driver performance and also processor clock speed with on chip L2 cache, we need to show them that we are not ignorant and need improvements in these areas." (RobART- I look forward to testing the GeForce and Voodoo5 on a Windows PC as the opportunity arises. In this case, I used the fastest preconfigured Hewlett Packard system sold by CompUSA. It costs $2395 compared to $1895 for a G4/400 with Voodoo5 added.)
FROM Mark Bellon: "I should point out that Quake III is an OpenGL game and the OpenGl 1.1.2 and later do use AltiVec internally." (RobART - Implying that the comparison is unfair.)
Where to Buy
You can buy the Voodoo5 5500 PCI direct from 3Dfx's Online Store (shop3dfx.com) for $329. Or visit their "Where To Buy" page for over 20 bargain sources.
Check CNET for lowest prices. As of this writing, they list Onvia as the cheapest source at $297 including shipping.
MacGurus will be carrying the Voodoo5.
See also Other World Computing (OWC). They will carry the Voodoo5 for Mac but if you have an iMac A or B, they carry the only Voodoo board for the iMac: iWizard Voodoo2.
Test Configurations & Procedures
TESTED GRAPHICS BOARDS:3Dfx Voodoo5 5500 with dual VSA-100 processors, 350MHz RAMDAC, HW Full Scene Anti-Aliasing (FSAA), FXT1 Texture Compression, 667 MP/sec Fill Rate, and 64MB of VRAM.
nVIDIA TNT2 Pro with 300MHz RAMDAC, 284MP/sec Fill Rate, 2.65GB/sec Memory BandWidth, and 32MB of FRAM
TEST MACHINES:G4/400 Sawtooth with 256MB of RAM and Mac OS 9.04
G4/400 Yikes with 256MB of RAM and Mac OS 9.04
HP Athlon 1GHz with 128MB of RAM and Windows 98
(NOTE- I look forward to testing the GeForce and Voodoo5 on a Windows PC as the opportunity arises. In this case, I used the fastest preconfigured Hewlett Packard system sold by CompUSA. It costs $2395 compared to $1895 for a G4/400 with Voodoo5 5500 added.)
TEST SOFTWARE:Id Software's Quake III Arena (Latest DEMO version) options were set to:
GL DRIVER: ON
VIDEO MODE: 1024 or 1280
COLOR DEPTH: 16 or 32
FULL SCREEN: ON
GEOMETRIC DETAIL: HIGH
TEXTURE DETAIL: HIGHEST SLIDER SETTING
TEXTURE QUALITY: 16 OR 32
TEXTURE FILTER: TRILINEAR
TEST RUN: When the main screen appears, I press "~" and enter "timedemo 1" (return) and "~" once more. Then I click on DEMOS and run Demo1. Once it finishes and returns to the main screen, I press "~" once more to get the frames per second readout.
BIG MAHALO TO...... 3Dfx for letting me be one of the first to test the Voodoo5.
... ID software for posting a DEMO version of Quake III Arena.
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