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Retro Graphics Card Brings Voodoo, PowerVR GPUs to New PCs

Dual GPU Retro Graphics Card - Voodoo 3 3500 + PCX2
(Image credit: YouTube)

A YouTuber by the name of Michael Dale recently got his hands on a very cool piece of retro-tech which includes a graphics card equipped with both a Voodoo 3 3500 chip and a PowerVR PCX2 chip and is designed specifically for gamers who still play very old titles from the late 90s or early 2000s. The board was custom built by Anthony Zxclxiv.

This card is very unique in that it has two separate GPUs you can access depending on the games you want to play, and even features a pass-through port, so you can run a more modern GPU in your system, alongside this card without needing to change display cables. The card runs on a standard PCI slot (not to be confused with PCI Express).

The card looks really good, despite housing 25-year-old GPUs. The entire card is all black, with a black PCB, heatsinks, RAM, and other components.

The GPUs equipped with this graphics card were very popular in the late 90s, especially the Voodoo 3 3500. The Voodoo 3 was one of the highest performing GPUs you could buy in 1999 and has a reputation that lives on to this day due to its popularity. The Voodoo 3 came in three flavors, the 2000, 3000, and 3500. The 3500 was the most powerful model with a 183 MHz core clock on the GPU and 350MHz on the RAM, as well as 16MB of dedicated memory.

What made the Voodoo 3 such a great card at the time was its excellent performance that was on par with every other top performing graphics card in 1999 and great compatibility with a ton of games on the market as well. Other graphics cards competitors did have some advantages like HD texture capabilities, but overall the Voodoo 3 was a great all-around card that did everything you wanted it to do.

The 2nd chip is an older PowerVR PCX2 chip that was originally made in 1997. This card was designed primarily as a 3D-only accelerator board and would have to be used in conjunction with a 2D video card in your system. Being 2 years older, the PCX2 is significantly slower than the Voodoo 3, but its age will allow the card to play games that were made in 1996 and 1997 like the original Tomb Raider.

This card is definitely not for the masses, but one for gamers who love to play titles from the mid-to-late 90s, like Quake, Wing Commander, and Tomb Raider. These games are so old that they will not work at all on any type of modern hardware, which is where cards like these come into play.

  • hotaru.hino
    I think this was meant more for retro gaming builds where finding a video card in decent condition is hard.

    Putting this in a modern system is going to be an exercise in frustration given:
    Finding a modern board with a PCI slot. They do exist and I've spotted a B550 board on PCPP with one, but the chances of one appearing only increase if you go older
    Software support is likely non-existent
    You can forget about any modern Windows because the drivers aren't WDDM compliant, if it's even compatible with Windows NT based kernels.
    Linux might be better, but I'm also doubtful considering LGR tried using an early 2000s PCI based ATi card in modern Linux and it was barely functional
    And then there's the issue of the games even running on a modern OS. If you have a popular older game, chances are it's sold on Steam or GoG and it works more or less fine on a modern system. Anything else will likely crash and burn.I mean, the hardware itself is interesting. But putting it in a modern system is laughable at best.
    Reply
  • mikewinddale
    hotaru.hino said:
    But putting it in a modern system is laughable at best.

    And it's probably easier to just make a VM anyway. Before the original Diablo was re-released on GoG, I wanted to play it, but it wasn't compatible with my Radeon RX 580 (at least, not with the AMD driver at the time). So I made a Windows XP virtual machine in VMWare, which can emulate a DirectX-capable 3D accelerator card. Diablo played great.

    For older games, you could create a VM with whatever OS was popular at the time.
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    I got a M3D by Matrox to supplement my Millenium 2. That was a PVR chip and I loved that thing. FS 2000 looked so much better on it.

    And I LOVED wing commander. Some serious nostalgia there.

    Does anyone make a PCI slot any more?
    Reply
  • LolaGT
    I had a Voodoo 3 back then, it excelled in the most popular FPS games(UT, Quake, etc) using glide.
    I think I still have that card in the box around here somewhere.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    hotaru.hino said:
    Finding a modern board with a PCI slot. They do exist and I've spotted a B550 board on PCPP with one, but the chances of one appearing only increase if you go older
    That actually is the easy part: simply use an x1 to PCI adapter/riser for ~$50 if your preffered board doesn't have built-in PCI.
    Reply
  • Byshop303
    The Wing Commander games are called out specifically in this article, but the vast majority of them were software rendered. Wing Commander 5: Prophecy is the only one I know for sure offered 3DFX support. Any game in the series (polygonal 3D or not) that doesn't support hardware accelerated graphics will get no benefit from this card.
    Reply
  • Joseph_138
    InvalidError said:
    That actually is the easy part: simply use an x1 to PCI adapter/riser for ~$50 if your preffered board doesn't have built-in PCI.

    If you're using a system that doesn't have a PCI slot, you're better off running the games under an emulator. This card is meant for vintage computers, not modern ones. I can't see these cards being sold for less than $250, plus you're going to have pay another $50 for the adapter that you mentioned. Is it really worth it when you can already play the games for nothing? The games that this card would support are going to be DOS and Windows 9x games, that you need an emulator to run, anyway. If you're already going to be using an emulator, then you don't need this card at all. Another point to consider, where are you going to get drivers for Voodoo 3 and PowerVR for any version of Windows past XP for V3, or Win 9x for PowerVR? The newest version of Windows that has drivers for both chips is Windows Millenium Edition. XP only supports the Voodoo 3.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Joseph_138 said:
    Another point to consider, where are you going to get drivers for Voodoo 3 and PowerVR for any version of Windows past XP for V3, or Win 9x for PowerVR? The newest version of Windows that has drivers for both chips is Windows Millenium Edition. XP only supports the Voodoo 3.
    As long as the BIOS still supports legacy mode, you can probably install Windows 98SE on it, albeit with a truckload of caveats such as no support for hardware like USB2/3 that didn't have generic class ID drivers back then. Get your PS/2 keyboard and RS232 mouse ready in case the chipset doesn't support UHCI (USB1.x) backwards compatibility for EHCI/XHCI (USB2/3.x) ports!
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    Not impressed. The guy below built a PowerVR Super Kyro. He also came up with a solution for lack of PCI slots on current motherboards by making his own board which absolutely has to be seen to be believed.

    XmcZsQXOKEAView: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmcZsQXOKEA
    Reply
  • dalauder
    mikewinddale said:
    And it's probably easier to just make a VM anyway. Before the original Diablo was re-released on GoG, I wanted to play it, but it wasn't compatible with my Radeon RX 580 (at least, not with the AMD driver at the time). So I made a Windows XP virtual machine in VMWare, which can emulate a DirectX-capable 3D accelerator card. Diablo played great.

    For older games, you could create a VM with whatever OS was popular at the time.
    That's where I am. If it's not on Gog or that system doesn't work well, I can just run a VM. If I want to get REALLY fancy, I've got access to some Core 2 Duo machines with PCI slots that I can install 32-bit Windows XP on. That retained compatibility with most Windows 95 games while being easy to send files to with USB.
    Reply