Skip to main content

NVIDIA vs. 3Dfx - TNT vs. the Voodoos

Unreal Benchmark Results

Unreal is out now for quite a while and still it doesn't officially run on much more than Glide and PowerSGL. There's an OpenGL port for Verite 2x00 cards available now as well, but it's still in beta state. Recently a Direct3D patch popped up, again only beta and unable to run with any of the Unreal patches, but there's at least some way of comparing all the different 3 cards with each other. To me Unreal seems to be in beta state altogether still. I've hardly come across a game with as many crashes and bug reports, incompatibilities and apologies from the developer for unperfected software. The game itself is pretty ok in single player mode, although it can't compete with the atmosphere and story line of Half-Life. In multi-player mode it never made it against the much older Quake 2 and I doubt that it ever will. I can see myself playing Half-Life multiplayer rather than ever Unreal, but I guess that's a question of taste.

Nevertheless is the engine of Unreal great to look at, the effects are rather impressive and Unreal is supposed to have over 20 licensees for this engine. That's why Microsoft is working hard on a Direct3D port of the Unreal engine and I hear from NVIDIA that once it is released, TNT will "at least have Voodoo2 performance in Unreal, but look a lot better". This is all future but now is now, so that I've dared to compare TNT running the D3D beta vs. Voodoo2 and Banshee running Glide. Banshee does for some strange reason only run with patch 209, the original release wouldn't work with it, neither patch 216 or 217.

TNT has quite a problem with Unreal right now still. Decent game play is possible at 640x480 and that's it. Any higher resolution makes Unreal run that sluggish, that it's really no fun to play.

Voodoo2 is running Unreal with its Glide engine and this gives it an important advantage. Glide has a lot less CPU overhead and thus it's possible to play Unreal pretty much at all the available resolutions.

Banshee seems to have a problem with Unreal still, only patch 209 worked. However, you can play Unreal fine at 800x600, which gives it an advantage over TNT. Again, the Glide engine is responsible for this.

Summary Unreal Results

As long as 3Dfx can play its Glide muscle, it can show its superiority over other cards. Direct3D is used much more widely, but it's also a Microsoft product and Microsoft products are not exactly famous for being modest in its demands for system performance. Direct3D needs a lot more CPU power than Glide and thus the clear winner in Unreal is currently still 3Dfx. This may change in the next 6 weeks however, let's see what the Microsoft and Epic guys will have achieved by then.

  • Pure nostalgia. Tom's Hardware is awesome for keeping 14 year old articles around, I read the whole thing and it brought back memories.
  • xkm1948
    Ahh now this brings back some old memories.