Last week, a collector put up a rare 3dfx Voodoo 5 6000 graphics card for auction on eBay. This was a fully functional prototype, with engineering work from former 3dfx employee Jindrich Semenec to get the card working with 8xFSAA. Bidding quickly eclipsed $12,000, and the final sale price ended up at $15,000. Here's what we know for now.
The seller purchased the card originally from a friend, as it was something of a holy grail for graphics card collectors. Over time, however, they felt there wasn't quite as much emotional attachment to the Voodoo 5 6000, and so they decided to put the card up for auction so that someone else could enjoy it.
Getting the card running in a modern PC isn't possible, as it uses the long since discontinued AGP 4X interface. AGP rapidly dwindled in use with the advent of PCI Express in 2003, though the Voodoo 5 series of cards first appeared in 2000, and 3dfx filed for bankruptcy in 2002. But if you have an old Pentium III or similar rig still kicking around, you could potentially still run the Voodoo 5 6000 in it.
As for specs, the card uses four of the Napalm 30 architecture VSA-100 chips clocked at 166 MHz. Each chip features two pixel shaders and no vertex shaders (as those weren't around in 2000). There are also two texturing units and two render outputs (ROPs) per chip, and the card used SLI — Scan Line Interleaving, not the Nvidia Scalable Link Interface — to put all four chips to use. Each GPU was also paired with 32MB of SDR memory running at the same 166 MHz as the GPU core, for a total of 128MB.
The VSA-100 chips were fabricated on a 250nm process, with a size of around 112mm^2 and just 14 million transistors per chip. Even the lowest of integrated graphics solutions these days will use far more transistors, though a lot of those go toward things like AVC, HEVC, and/or AV1 encoding/decoding support, in addition to the various graphics duties. With four chips total, the Voodoo 5 6000 was rated at up to 60W of power use — try not to let it go to your head!
While the card could pull most of the needed power over the AGP connection, it does feature a barrel-style external power adapter. Note also that the only output available is a single VGA connector, though that's no surprise considering the age of the hardware.
Just how fast would the Voodoo 5 6000 be compared to modern graphics cards? Even if we ignore the lack of support for newer APIs (DirectX 6 was the maximum at the time), it's not going to set any records. Four pixel shaders at 166 MHz yields a theoretical performance of 2.66 Giga-ops per second. That would put it roughly on par with the Radeon 9700 that came out in 2002, according to our GPU benchmarks hierarchy.
Or maybe we need to add in some additional "ops" for the ROPS and TMUs — honestly, it's been so long since we moved to unified shaders that I hardly remember how they might compare with newer GPUs. Suffice it to say you won't be running Windows 11 or any remotely recent games on the Voodoo 5 6000. But that's assuming you even want to, as more likely than not this will end up enshrined on a shelf rather than sitting in a PC that can actually be used.
Whatever the case, this is certainly a rare piece of gaming history. 3dfx Interactive was one of the driving forces behind early 3D games on PC, and it also powered some arcade machines in the late 90s. RIP, 3dfx and Voodoo.
We're trying to get additional details on who purchased the card, so if you're one of the two involved parties and would like to talk, drop me a note.
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Jarred Walton is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on everything GPU. He has been working as a tech journalist since 2004, writing for AnandTech, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. From the first S3 Virge '3D decelerators' to today's GPUs, Jarred keeps up with all the latest graphics trends and is the one to ask about game performance.
I just can’t imagine caring about something that much. I hate collecting things that require storageReply
all I need are my memories of the voodoo and those are plenty and that’s good enough
I’m sure the new owner is chuffed
Never owned a 3dfx card. I think around the time this card was on the market I was using a Matrox Mystique 220. It came bundled with a few games...can't remember which ones though.Reply
My first gpu was a 3dfx back in 1997/1998. Had a Dell pc and added a gpu to it. Quake looked amazing at the time.Reply
I did the same, but I bought the pentim pro. Ooooohhhhhh lolgg83 said:My first gpu was a 3dfx back in 1997/1998. Had a Dell pc and added a gpu to it. Quake looked amazing at the time.
many hours of playing Mech warrior two with the 3DFX patch and quake and lots of other network games. We used to stay after work go out to eat and then come back and play all night.
gg83 said:My first gpu was a 3dfx back in 1997/1998. Had a Dell pc and added a gpu to it. Quake looked amazing at the time.
That moment when you saw Unreal for the first time.
GL Quake looked great too though - after turning off those silly orange blobs around rockets.
This card was notorious for actually being able to run games at 8X FSAA compared to the 4X which was common on other cards, and usually had a large performance penalty.Reply
If i'm correct these cards also ran at 16Bit vs 32Bit over the competition, which gave it an advantage but less "colorfull" colors.
Those VSA where capable of running up to 32 chips all together.
3DFX was kind of stupid by retracting the option for AIB's to create their own versions, and start selling their own cards only. Just like Nvidia is doing now with AIB's > More money for them.
I still have my 3DFX cards stored away... a Voodoo2 and a Voodoo Rush. RIP The Good Ol Days.Reply
My first 3D card was a Rendition because IIRC they were the first to release before 3Dfx. I bought it to play Quake. I later bought a Voodoo 3Dfx a few years later because I was into flight sims that used Glide and OpenGLgg83 said:My first gpu was a 3dfx back in 1997/1998. Had a Dell pc and added a gpu to it. Quake looked amazing at the time.
Ah, some good old memories looking at some of the posts.Reply
The 3dFX 3 3000 PCI was my first accelerator/gpu, after which I moved the a Geforce 256 agp on my next system. With hardware T+L, games really looked more than they before. Stunning (for circa 1999/2000)
Although I had worked in laptop servicing and component testing before then, I got my first PC in 2009, with a GPU of unknown identity, because I can't remember. It was rubbish so I soon upgraded to a Voodoo3 3000, with performance that was quite the revelation, hugely faster. So, 3dfx got me started on PC gaming.Reply