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Editorial Index

Recent Editorials:

I WANT my CD key!
12/13 - id's decision to use a CD key is justified

Report Card to the NIMF
12/1 - A response to the NIMF's report on violence in video games

Violence and Gaming
11/16 - Quake responsible for youth violence?

A Purist's Rules for FPS Multi-Player Design
11/5 - Keeping FPS' clutter-free

Rebuttal to Essobie's Editorial
10/15 - Grapple Controversy-Part Deux
The Woes of Being a Multi-Gamer
10/12 - Game Loyalty?
CTF != The Grappling Hook
10/7 - Q3 Arena sans grappling hook?
Jailbreak and Free Lunches
10/4 - Do mod makers "owe" people anything?
Pixels and Texels
9/13 - A look at the future of video cards
Yes, Camping is Evil!
9/2 - A response to "The Evils of Camping"!
Give Me Cable or Give Me Death!
8/31 - Will we all be LPBs one day?
Does Age Equal Maturity?
8/25 - A look at the age factor in gaming.
HeadHunting
8/23 - Mods and intellectual property
To Smack or Not to Smack
8/12 - Trash talking and the FFF!
The Evils of Camping
8/9 - We love to complain!
Trends in the Gaming Industry
7/13 - A look at the shift to multiplayer only games
32-bit Graphics Shows 3dfx's True Colors
7/12 - A continuation about the Voodoo3...
Is She 7 or 17?
6/30 - About the Voodoo3...
Doom 2000 and Q3A
5/26 - Fragmaster speaks his mind
The L33T D00D Multiplayer Tutorial
5/11 - Addressing their needs
Sue 'em All...
4/15 - The id Software Lawsuit
(more)

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Comments or ideas? Feedback?

Is She 7 or 17?
Is speed everything for some video card zealots?
  — by
Roscoe Sincero

Many of us have heard repeatedly that the Voodoo3 is the fastest card on the market for gamers today. If a Voodoo3 and a TNT2/ATI Rage 128/TNT/G400MAX/S4 were all clocked the same for the memory and core, I would claim that the Voodoo3 is indeed faster than all of them in many situations. The real issue, however, is how much faster the Voodoo3 is than the other cards. This is something that many 3dfx "zealots" do not want to consider at all. They are so emotionally attached to their beloved graphics card that higher brain functions seem to have stopped. Does the negligable speed advantage the Voodoo3 have justify it's lack of other features current video cards support that the Voodoo3 lacks?

Let me summarize what I have said so far for the benefit of the 3dfx zealots. I stated clearly that the Voodoo3 is faster than the TNT2, ATI Rage 128, and the other cards. The issue is how much faster is the Voodoo3. This question is extremely important when one actually considers that the TNT2, ATI Rage 128, Savage4, the currently-unavailable G400MAX, Neon 250, and others offer more features than the Voodoo3 including up to 32MB of on-board memory, up to 2048x2048 texture sizes, 32-bit rendering, true and working AGP support, etc. The outdated i740 and the Riva 128ZX even support features that the Voodoo3 do not. But let us focus on just the popular V3 versus TNT2 comparison.

In many benchmarks that I have seen, the Voodoo3 is usually faster than the TNT2 by about five to 15 frames per second in OpenGL Quake II benchmarks (e.g. demo1.dm2 and others). In D3D games, the results seem to indicate a tie, with Voodoo3 being faster in some resolutions on some CPUs while the TNT2 is faster in some resolutions on other CPUs. With results like that, how can anyone claim a clear and distinct winner? Some might say that the TNT2 has the edge in D3D games but I do not really see that; it's really just a virtual tie. The OpenGL scores, however, are quite different. Not counting crusher.dm2 and mon2.dm2 (both in 16-bit), it seems consistent that the Voodoo3 provides higher frame rates than the TNT2. The bottom line is that the V3 is the Queen of Speed (or to be more accurate, it is consistently faster than the competition) in OpenGL games.

At this point, you're probably asking yourself, "Okay, you already said that the V3 is faster. You have now hammered that idea into my head. So what's the point?"

Do you think that a five to 15 FPS boost justifies buying a card that offers considerably fewer features than the competition? That is the point, or to be accurate, one of the points. For many people, that potential 15-FPS boost is all the justification they need to purchase a card with less features but faster performance. For these people, they do not care that the slower card may be providing "speeds exceeding 60 frames per second". They want that extra 15 FPS and the unnoticable performance increase that comes with it.

The next issue - the most important issue - is to determine if that 15 FPS boost is real or "synthetic". As we all know, the miniGL is used for all of the Voodoo3 benchmarks in OpenGL games. The reason for this is that the Voodoo3 is not a fully compliant OpenGL card. Does using the miniGL create an illusion of superior performance in OpenGL games? Let me give you a hypothetical example using the Kingpin Alpha demo. For the sake of argument, let us pretend that at 1600x1200x16, the Voodoo3 performance with fog enabled is 80 frames per second. The TNT2 at the same resolution and with fog enabled is 63 frames per second. So clearly the V3 is faster than the TNT2 by approximately 17 FPS per second in this hypothetical example.

But what happens when you disable fog? The Voodoo3 performance with fog disabled is still 80 frames per second. The TNT2 with fog disabled is now up around 73 FPS. The V3's incredible performance advantage mysteriously shrinks to just 7 FPS per second. Why? The answer to the question is that the V3's miniGL either does not support OpenGL fog or it is only extremely partially supported. Therefore, enabling fog has no impact on its performance. As far as the V3 is concerned, fog is always disabled. When you see Kingpin benchmarks, which situation do you think is being reported? Are people reporting benchmarks with fog enabled or are they reporting benchmarks with fog disabled? Would it surprise anyone that fog enabled benchmarks are the most common? Kingpin is a good software to use for this simple test because we can enable/disable fog at the menu. Otherwise, I would need to know all those console commands to figure out what to enable/disable. In short, Kingpin made it easy. I probably would not have noticed the performance discrepancy of fog if it was not for the menu.


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