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velocity 100 review  

originally posted 1-17-2001 on 3dfx.products.voodoo3 newsgroup

I finally received my Velocity 100 after winning it for an amazingly low $34.50 on Ebay. So, for your viewing and flaming pleasure, I once again bring you a review on obsolescent hardware from a company now out of business. I haven't got anything better to do on my days off, so what the heck.

The Velocity 100 is an integrated 2d/3d video accelerator that utilizes the 3Dfx Voodoo3 chip. It was marketed as a business graphics solution, and has only 8MB of SGRAM, vs. 16MB of SDRAM for the other cards in the Voodoo3 series. The SGRAM is rated at 6ns, which theoretically should allow the card to overclock to 166MHz. We shall see shortly if this was the case. The default clock speed of the card is 143MHz, and it is offered in AGP only.

Upon inspecting the video card, it was refreshing to note how clean and clutter free the board is. Comparing it to my V3 3000 AGP, it is evident that there is lots of 'stuff' missing from the Velocity 100. I'm sure this has something to do with lacking 8MB of RAM. In any event, the card comes with a small heatsink reminiscent of a V3 2000. I discarded the Velocity 100 driver CD in favor of the WHQL 1.07 drivers I already have installed on my system. Upon powering up the computer, the Velocity 100 bios greeted me, then it booted into Windows 98 like normal. The OS identified the card, but chastised me when I steered it to the V3 1.07 drivers by claiming that these were not the best drivers for the device. I knew better, however, and forced the issue by clicking "yes" to proceed. =) The drivers took, the system booted back up, and 3Dfx tools showed my new card as a Voodoo3 AGP with 8MB RAM. Cool.

I immediately hacked the registry and turned on the 2nd TMU, and then reinstalled Gary Peterson's excellent Voodoo3 Overclocker, but refrained from using it until doing some default benchmarks. In any event, the Velocity overclocked to 166MHz with no mods or any other active cooling, but there were visual glitches and sparklies that would appear in games and 3DM2K. I put a tiny 1.5" fan on the heatsink, and the card was absolutely perfect at this speed, with no problems at all. Here is the reference system:

P3 866 (650e @ 133FSB) on Tyan S1854 Trinity 400 Revision E Bios v.1.07
128MB Corsair PC100 RAM @ 133 CAS3
WD 13GB ATA66 7200rpm Hard Drive
3Dfx Velocity 100 @ 143MHz and 166MHz
3Dfx Voodoo3 3000 AGP @ 166MHz (for reference)
3Dfx 1.07.00 WHQL Drivers (default settings, vsync off)
Win98SE w/IE5.01 SP1

Quake3 v1.17 Demo001, "Normal" (V3 doesn't really do "High Quality"), HiQ sound

143MHz = 85.1
166MHz = 92.5

143Mz = 59.8
166MHz = 70.0

143MHz = 39.0
166MHz = 45.1

V3 3000 AGP @ 166MHz 1024x768 = 46.0

The Q3A benchmark shows only part of the story - at 1024x768 res, the slowdowns during the demo were incredible in some areas, even dropping into single digits during the huge showers of blood after a frag. At 800x600 res and lower, the Velocity 100 was comparable to regular V3 at the same clock, even though it has half the memory. This was a trend throughout the testing - the card performed equal to a regular V3 until 1024x768 res, at which time it chokes hard.

Unreal Tournament (GLIDE) V4.36 Timedemo 1 (opening flyby), HiQ textures, HiQ sound

143MHz = 68.15

143MHz = 64.78

143MHz = 53.87
166MHz = 59.38

Voodoo3 3000 AGP @ 166MHz 1024x768 = 58.83

The results of this benchmark are very deceiving - even though the Velocity 100 had a better average frame rate than the V3 3000 at 1024x768, the lowest recorded FPS was 22.79. The V3 3000 rarely dipped below 45FPS! This made the Velocity rather chunky in some areas of the demo, even though that didn't translate well in the benchmark. Gameplay was similar, with areas of heavy firefighting causing stutters and slowdowns at this res. Otherwise, the Velocity performed just as well as the regular V3 at all speeds. The GLIDE performance of this little card at 800x600 was stunning, to say the least, with framerates usually over 60FPS in regular gameplay.

Unreal Tournament (D3D) V4.36 Timedemo 1 (opening flyby), HiQ textures, HiQ sound

143MHz = 67.24

143MHz = 57.92

143MHz = 31.25
166MHz = 32.09

D3D at 1024x768 really crushed this card, with a minimum recorded framerate of 11.78! As long as you kept it at 800x600, it played fine. Now for the real killer:

3DMark2000, default benchmark, 1024x768 16bit color

143MHz = 1040 3dMarks
166MHz = 1035 3dMarks
V3 3000 AGP @ 166MHz = 3092 3DMarks

Yes boys and girls, you read correctly. 1040 and 1035! That is not a typo. The card just couldn't hang at this resolution, and this confirms once and for all that the Velocity 100 just isn't an option if you want to run certain titles at high resolutions. The higher clock speed made absolutely no difference, since it was not the limiting factor. The Velocity scored a 3095 at 800x600 16bit at 143MHz, so once again this shows that the card functions very well at resolutions of up to 800x600 resolution. This is easily explained by the 8MB RAM configuration. At 1024x768, the frame buffer uses most of the available memory, leaving only 3MB or so for textures. Thus you have the poor showing in all the benchmarks, and this translates into massive slowdowns during a game with high graphical demands.

To sum it up, this is a great bargain right now. I saw one on Ebay that went for under $30, and that is plain out unbelievable.  (NOTE:  I just bought another one of these off Ebay for $10). This would be a great choice for someone who wants to set up a home LAN for gaming, and has to buy several video cards and wants maximum compatibility at a minimal price. It is also very good for someone who has a 15" monitor or smaller, and only plays games at 800x600 resolution or less. At these resolutions, the Velocity 100 was equal or superior to similarly clocked V3's, and it ran all titles beautifully. It has faster SGRAM, so peaks with slightly higher framerates in resolutions it's limited 8MB RAM allows it to play at. It is no match for the V3 at higher resolutions, however, and really chokes due to the limited memory. I'll keep mine just for the heck of it, since it makes a great backup for my V5 5500!

Copyrightę 2002 Nightstormer Productions