Several months after the release of the Voodoo5 5500 AGP, 3dfx decided to do something different and release a PCI Voodoo5. This puts them in a unique position of being the only ones on the market with a high performance PCI graphics card. Indeed, the only other performance PCI graphics cards out there are also from 3dfx, being the older Voodoo3 series. Due to limitations imposed by the older PCI bus architecture, we can’t expect performance numbers from the PCI version of the V5500 to be equal to the AGP card’s numbers on high end systems, but the results are very close. Of course, when comparing the latest incarnation of the Voodoo5 to other available PCI cards, it blows the competition away.

For some people that overclock their systems, gamers in particular, using a PCI video card can alleviate many of the problems associated with overclocking. The main problem being the increase in the AGP bus speed that goes along with a FSB speed increase on older BX based boards. With the PCI Voodoo5, 3dfx has allowed the overclocker to benefit from some of the latest graphics technology without going back to a sub-par level of performance. In fact, when you’re using one of the latest Intel CPU’s that requires a 133mhz bus, you don’t have many choices. You can either overclock that older BX motherboard, give in to Intel and buy extravagantly priced Rambus memory, or settle for one of the alternatives such as a VIA chipset board. However, if you go with VIA, be wary of going with a PCI Voodoo5. Due to bugs in the VIA chipset, the V5 performed at a considerably lower level than what it should have on my Abit VT6X4, causing a multitude of problems and eventually requiring the use of a different system for benchmarking. Interesting to note is that on an Intel 440BX board, the card scored higher with a P3-600 CPU than it did with a P3-800 CPU on the VIA board.

The features of the PCI Voodoo5 are equivalent to the AGP Voodoo5, as you can read about in our Voodoo5 5500 AGP review. The main new feature is Full Scene Anti Aliasing, brought to us courtesy of 3dfx’s new T-Buffer. For details on everything that can be done by the T-buffer, like shadow effects, depth of field, motion blur, and other good stuff, check out our recent article: T-buffer Investigated. FSAA is the only effect produced by the T-Buffer that can be seen in current games and applications with no changes to their programming.