Voodoo5 5500 PCI
With the current trend in computers as fast paced as it is, frustration is a common feeling. This frustration is a feeling not only felt by the power user who spent big bucks building the system of her dreams only to find it antiquated in less than 6 months, but it is a feeling shared across the board. Be it a casual user who purchased an OEM system only to find that in a short period of time the system was no longer sufficient for his needs or a parent who got a computer only to find that it would not play the games that were birthday presents, "getting burned", as it is commonly referred too, is a pain closely associated with computers.
This pain is not only a result of OEM systems that seem to "favor" that particular OEM's products but also with the lightening fast speed at which technology changes. Systems bought as recently as the last month could suffer from these problems, be it from older CPU socket styles such as Super Socket 7 or a lack of available PCI slots for use in upgrades. Although CPU slot incompatibles seem to wreak the most havoc on older systems, innovations such as a slocket or a voltage regulator were produced with these problems in mind, making the path of upgrade easier than before. One problem that remains for many users, however, is 3D acceleration.
Ever since the 440LX introduced 1997, Intel has included an AGP port for use with current graphics cards. While this may seem like eons in the computer world and it is true that many older chipset users have long since upgraded, Intel has offered AGP slot-less motherboards targeted at OEM markets. With the introduction of the i810 motherboard, Intel produced a very attractive solution to OEM system builders: include an integrated "AGP" card and leave out the AGP slot altogether. This made for not only lower motherboard manufacturing costs, it also resulted in lower system prices as a pricey video card was no longer necessary. This perfect plan for OEM system builders turned out to be the perfect nightmare for computer shoppers.
Although the integrated i752 derived video on the i810 proved to be an attractive solution for 2D use, ever since its introduction the processor's 3D image capabilities have lagged behind the competition's. Time has only widened this gap, making the i810 almost useless in newer 3D accelerated software titles. The easy solution would be to upgrade, replacing the aging budget i752 integrated video solution with a newer video card. As simple as this sounds, it turned out to be a daunting task for i810 owners. With no AGP port, i810 owners looking for a video card upgrade were left with not only a poor product selection but also an old one. Sure, the newest GeForce and GeForce 2 chips are able to be used in a PCI video card, however due to what manufacturers believe is low demand, it seems that all plans for a GeForce based PCI solution have been scrapped. In fact, the most powerful video card that was made for use in a PCI slot was the TNT-2, but even PCI versions of these cards are extremely difficult to find. This left users with only two viable options that were actually obtainable: the TNT and the Voodoo3 3000.
There is no question that both cards are aged, at best, but hey, almost anything is better than the integrated i810 video solution. The Voodoo3 3000 cards proved to be the lesser of the two evils for many users, making it the card of choice of quite a few i810 owners looking to play games. These card sales always proved to be a noticeable part of 3dfx's retail sales and many suspected that their newest offering, the Voodoo5 5500, would replace its brother as the card of choice for not only i810 users but anyone forced to use a PCI graphics card on today's latest games. The PCI Voodoo5 5500 is finally here, a short time after the AGP version arrived in stores. Will the card live up to 3dfx's history of providing a high end card for PCI systems? Let's take a look.