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You are here: MacNN Forums > Enthusiast Zone > Classic Macs and Mac OS > Video Card Poll - Older PCI Macs

Video Card Poll - Older PCI Macs
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Fresh-Faced Recruit
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
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Jan 18, 2001, 10:34 PM
Hi all,
Here are a few video card related questions I'd appreciate your help with:

1) Theoretically, is there a limit to what my system (PM 9600/300) can support as far as a video card goes?

2) Would it be a waste to put one of the new 32 meg PCI Radeons in this system? How about Voodoo 5 PCI?

3) Which card has the best 2D graphics for this sytem?

Basically, what I'd really love is your suggestions on what to buy! I've been a Mac user for quite a few years but never (until now) have felt the need for a video card.

Go ahead! Post your suggestions

PM 9600/300
OS 9.0.4
128 MB/RAM
Keyspan USB PCI Card
Grizzled Veteran
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: East Africa
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Jan 19, 2001, 11:23 AM
all depends on what you want to do. if you're looking for a high-end gaming machine, i'd suggest buying a g4 than buying all the upgrades and ending up with a fairly fast legacy box with questionable osX support.
a few months ago i bought a rage+ card for my umax j700. just an 8mb card, but it's treated me very nicely for regular gaming and light photoshop work (after ironing out some conflicting ati extensions).

what you wanna do wi'it?
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Junior Member
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Pottstown, PA. USA
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Jan 20, 2001, 04:05 PM
I've installed an ATI RAGE ORION 16MB card in one of my PowerMac 7500's. Great 3-D for games and speeds things up
as far as animation is concerned. This 7500 was also upgraded to a 233 Mhz 604e processor with no problems.
-- "Does Microsoft mean 'small & limp?'
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Jan 23, 2001, 05:54 AM
voodoo 3 best/cheapest mac gaming card hands down just as fast as a 5 kills a rage 128 period.
Mac Enthusiast
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Poway, CA USA
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Jan 23, 2001, 09:53 PM
Well, with that 50mz bus a voodoo 3 card is not a bad idea, and dirt cheap right now. A PCI Radeon would be fine, but I doubt you would get measurable extra performance over a Rage 128 card or a Voodoo 3 card. If you do lots of high end 2d stuff stick with the ATI cards. If you want a gaming card the Voodoo 3 would be a nice fit.
Professional Poster
Join Date: Oct 1999
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Jan 23, 2001, 10:31 PM
I have a Voodoo 4 in a PowerCenter G3/500 (XLR8 upgrade overclocked to 550 MHz) running 9.0.4 and some games just don't like that combination. 4x4 Evolution in particular is unplayable. I'm not sure why, I haven't bothered to troubleshoot it since it's not my main Mac.

On the other hand, the NexusGA that I had in there for a few years worked very well (in its day). Depending on your needs, I'd go with an Ultimate Rez (originally cost $600, you can getit from OWC for $40 these days) or a used NexusGA. Both are very fast at 2D, and decent at 3D. Don't expect high frame rates in the latest 3D games, though.
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Jan 26, 2001, 09:42 PM
I haven't had that great of an experience with puting a new video card in, I had a Rage128 Nexus and it really never has performed to my expectations. I think that my bus limited me, but my powerbook plays Diablo 2 better than my powerbase... So you may just want to save for the overhaul.
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Join Date: Jan 2001
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Jan 27, 2001, 06:54 AM
I would probably go for a Rage Orion 16Mb as it will cause less problems than any of the other cards out there. It may not me be the latest and greatest card, but is technically the same card that is in the previous G4s, and the 2D performance is good (Voodoo cards do not do 2D well ). Also if you want to play games, more will support an ATI card over anything else due to the fact that all Macs have been shipping with them for the past 2 years. The only real benefit to the Voodoo 3 or over is the 3D games support, but again, some things will always work better with an ATI. (VGS anyone?)

The Formac Proformance 3 is an excellent card, but the incompatibilities are too numerous to make it really useful for the kind of use you speak of. I wouldn't touch the Radeon as your system bus just wouldn't keep up with it. I suppose it's up to you, but if you save your money on a graphics card now, you might be able to pick up an end-of line dual G4 for about 1200 (that's about $1700, I think)
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Jan 31, 2001, 04:50 PM
Many of the suggestions posted here are interesting, but not terrible sound in my opinion. For your old mac (9600/300) which is limited to a 50 Mhz logicboard bus speed, a RADEON card or Voodoo4/5 card would just not used well. The RAM speed and memory bus speed on those macs, while fast, just are nothing compared to a new mac. This bottleneck and the logicboard bottleneck just add up to wasted money. It is sorta like putting super charger, better wheels and sport suspension on a Model T. You might have the fastest Model T out there, but it is STILL A MODEL T. Newer macs overcome these bottlenecks and they can utilize the speed of the new RADEON, Voodoo4/5, and Nvidia cards. Also, while a 300 Mhz 604e with 1 MB inline 100 Mhz L2 cache is fast, it is slow compared to a 500 Mhz G3 or G4. And with G4s now up to 733 Mhz with new caching strategies, the 9600/300 is just plain slow. Many of the newest cards benefit from a faster CPU and 500 Mhz is the best you will be able to do really on a 50 Mhz bus limited Mac. Sure you can overclock, but unless IBM/Motorola develop a 12X or 14X multiplier on the G3/G4 chips, your 9600 will NEVER EVER see 733 Mhz, period.

Also consider what you are buying. I WOULD NOT BUY anything Voodoo related unless you are planning on keeping your old mac and not buying a new one or like me you have an old mac as your main mac and the cheaper and discontinued Voodoo cards are ideal. Considering that you will not likely update to MacOS X on a pre-G3 mac however it is upgraded, the last update of Voodoo3 drivers under MacOS 9.04 or even 8.6 or 8.5.1 would be fine. If you don't know, 3Dfx, the company who makes Voodoo cards, including the late Voodoo 4500 and 5500, is OUT OF BUSINESS and drivers support has STOPPED. Also consider the CPU upgrade you buy. Those cards typically need software from the card maker to enable the backside cache. Only driver updates will allow such thing to happen if MacOS X is to work with these upgraded macs. If you don't know, Newer Technologies has GONE OUT OF BUSINESS TOO. And it is unclear if the final release of MacOX will work with Newet Tech drivers. Card makers in business will likely update their drivers (Sonnet, PowerLogix, XLR8, Formac...) but it is my impression that Apple is desperately trying to kill that market. Money spent on upgrades doesn't benefit Apple's bottom line. Buying a new mac every 3-4 years will. That is unfair to users and most macs made are still in some kind of service, but that is another story.

Anyway I digress. I have a Apple Power Macintosh 7300/200 and it has a Game Wizard 12 MB Voodoo2 (out of business too) and a ATI RAGE 128 Nexus 32 MB PCI retail (discontinued) card along with a Newer Tech 500 G3 and it plays Unreal Tournament, Quake 3, Quake 2 and other games just fine at FULL DETAIL settings etc.... I am running Mac OS 8.5.1 and have 256 MB RAM with fast 9 GB hard drives inside. That is ABOUT AS FAR AS ANY PRE-g3 MAC SHOULD BE UPGRADED. The RADEON PCI not only has immature drivers currently, but will likely not be much faster on these pre-g3 macs. You have to realize that ATI did not have in mind the intention to make the RADEON retail PCI card for a 9600/300 or similar pre-G3 mac that has been upgraded severely. The market for this card are actually G3 computers with faster RAM, quicker bus speeds, etc....Not only would a Radeon be a waste of money, but it may not work with everything a discontinued card will handle just fine.

Your system is limited in more than a dozen way (as is mine) and getting a NEW graphic card is just not thinking. My Voodoo2 runs just fine with the OUT OF BUSINESS universal 3Dfx V2 drivers beta 5. Some people have had luck with a Voodoo3 after a ROM flash. The benefit there is that the Voodoo3 is a 2D/3D card so you can save a PCI slot for something else, unlike me (Voodoo2 has no 2D support). But a Voodoo 5 with its two chips will only have one chip working in a pre-G3 mac (just not enough current from power supply or not enough bandwidth from logicboard regardless of CPU speed).

Summary: which video card in a pre-G3 mac upgraded or not
Voodoo 1 or 2 or 3--OKAY--MacOS X support is NO 3Dfx is DOA

ATI RAGE 128 (retail cards only) Orion, Nexus, VR--OKAY

Voodoo 4 or 5--waste money on V4 and it should work. V5 is just plain stupid on a pre-G3 mac--the second chip doesn't power up at all and REMEMBER--3DFX is OUT OF BUSINESS

ATI RADEON PCI--more wasted money--should work with enough updates. Remember that ATI doesn't support pre-G3 macs that have been upgraded for this RADEON card.

Nvidia cards? Keep dreaming. Why don't you save for a new mac that comes with one inside already. These are too new to know if they will back date the cards to a pre-G3 mac. As nice as these pre-G3 macs are, despite their G3/G4 upgrades, they are just old technology that doesn't mesh well with the new stuff. Don't count on support for those macs much longer. Sorry. I am in the same boat too. I have a 7300/200 with G3 upgrade.
Sir Pimpsalot
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Jan 31, 2001, 08:06 PM
I was thinkin of getting a PCI Radeon card for my beige G3 tower but I figure its not worth it because my machine has lots of problems so I will be looking to get a new machine in the spring or summer. For all the upgrades that Id be making, I figure it would be much better to get a new system. Also, OS X is coming. Im holding out for that NV20 in a PowerMac. Now that will be sweet. If you are going to get a card though, get the Radeon.
Sir Pimpsalot
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Jan 31, 2001, 08:08 PM
I was thinkin of getting a PCI Radeon card for my beige G3 tower but I figure its not worth it because my machine has lots of problems so I will be looking to get a new machine in the spring or summer. For all the upgrades that Id be making, I figure it would be much better to get a new system. Also, OS X is coming. Im holding out for that NV20 in a PowerMac. Now that will be sweet. If you are going to get a card though, get the Radeon.
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