Worst Game Graphics Cards – S3 ViRGE

July 30, 2019 posted by

Hello, i’m collector of graphics cards and
in this videos i’d like to show you worst gaming cards ever made. We start with S3 ViRGE. Its 1st 3D card from S3 with so great performance,
that they called it decelerator. But 1st something about S3 company. Its been founded in 1989 in USA and cards
with their chips were released in 1991. Chip name was P86C911 also nicknamed Carrera,
because developers hoped that they buy Porsche from revenues. In 1992 was replaced by P86C928, but it was
also very expensive chip used on cards with prices around 600 to 900 dollars. In same year were also released mainstream
versions called P86C801 and later C805 used on cheaper cards around 300 dollars. Year later followed two new 64bit chips called
Vision964 and 864, which were aimed for highend and mainstream markets. Next in line were Vision968 and 868 improved
by support for video acceleration. In 1994 and 1995 appeared also lowend chips
Trio32 and much more succesfull Trio64 sold in many various models many years later. And on 2D core of Trio64 was based 1st game
3D accelerator from S3 called ViRGE. ViRGE was announced in November 1995 along
with more expensive version ViRGE/VX and it supposed to be mainstream card with good price. Cards were realeased in May 1996 with price
around 199 dolars and promised very fast 2D with good 3D. But cards had only 2MB of memory. In August prices decreased to 169 dollars
and new models with 4MB appeared, but with old price 199 dollars. ViRGE mean Video and Graphic rendering engine
and S3 promised support of all important APIs like Direct3D or OpenGL. And also their own API called S3D. Drivers with OpenGL support were never released. Their own DOS API S3D were introduced, because
at that time wasn’t Direct3D released. But S3D was quickly outdated after DirectX
release, only around 18 games were supported and most of them were bundled to various cards. And there was no S3D patches free available
for most of them. Now something about testing configuration. Computer is based on Gigabyte motherboard
with Intel 815 chipset. Its powered by Intel Pentium 3 at 1GHz, have
512MB of SDRAM memory and operating system is Windows 98 second edition. In this test you will see 3 graphics cards. 1st is Diamond Stealth 2000. Its S3 ViRGE clocked at 55MHz with 4MB of
EDO memory on 64bit memory bus. It will compete against Diamond Monster3D
based on legendary Voodoo 1 chipset from 3Dfx clocked at 50MHz. This card have also 4MB of EDO memory, but
on faster memory bus. Sadly even legendary cards are not flawless
and Voodoo 1 have in some games texture bugs on CPU’s faster than 400MHz. In these will be replaced by STB Velocity
128 based on NVIDIA RIVA 128 clocked at 100MHz. This card came one year later, so its using
4MB of faster SGRAM memory and AGP 1x bus. 1st we take a look at benchmark called Final
Reality. In its option we can see, that card is missing
Alpha Blending. Alpha Blending is used for transparent textures
in effects like fire, smoke and various explosions. In top left corner you can see FPS counter
showing really small numbers even on resolution 640×480 used in all tests. Robots scene shows another bug – blinking
textures at sky and walls. City scene is really slow and missing also
flames efects at rocket. So we skip it to 3DMark 99. In it i did only two tests. 1st is Race clearly showing tragic performance. 2nd is fillrate test. Whole benchmarking wasn’t done, because most
cards won’t survive First Person test. Tomb Raider 2 Demo looks on ViRGE good and its only
around 3 times slower than Voodoo 1. Forsaken isn’t demanding game, but ViRGE is
still too slow for it and looses points for bad looking effects due missing Alpha Blending. Carmageddon 2 is 6 times slower than Voodoo
1 and have deformed textures. GLQuake works only thanks to D3D wrapper made
only for this game and still it’s not playable even
at 320×240 resolution. Turok was highend game optimised for Voodoo
1. Virge is ultra slow even in intro and missing
many textures. Croc is one of few games supporting S3D, but
i was unable to get this version, so i stayed with D3D. Incoming was famous thanks to many nice looking
effects. But these were not visible on ViRGE. Sadly Voodoo 1 have texture bug on fast CPU’s,
so i’m using for comparsion RIVA 128. Its small wonder that Half Life is running,
but most textures just disappeared. Wipeout on Virge is not only very slow, but
also really dark. Expendable with Virge is slow and ugly looking
game. Voodoo 1 have texture bug again, so i’m using
Riva128. Alien versus Predator is using Alpha Blending
in many ways. For example night vision is unusable. Sadly Voodoo have again textures problems,
so its replaced by Riva128. We skip very popular test Can it run Crysis?,
because this isn’t possible on Windows 98. So i replaced Crysis with similar game from
90’s called Unreal. So, what is conclusion about S3 ViRGE? It’s one of slowest gaming cards ever released. Can be used only in resolution 320×240 and
maximum if you’re lucky is 400×300. Alpha Blending is missing and this decrease
visual quality of many effects. OpenGL is not supported, but this was common
at time of release. API S3D is supported only in few games, which
are hard to find anyway. Many games are faster with software rendering
than in hardware rendering and thats why this card deserve its marking as decelerator. Card is good only in DOS performance and compatibility,
but these are not most important features of 3D game card. Thats why it got only 1 star from 10. As you just seen S3 ViRGE is not good for
retrogaming or any other use. Thats all for today, see you next time with another useless card and now you can enjoy demo from 3DMark 99. For comparsion in small window is video rendered
by Voodoo 1.


50 Replies to “Worst Game Graphics Cards – S3 ViRGE”

  1. Kamerat says:

    Most crappy card that support D3D?

  2. RaptorZX3 says:

    Hey it Speedrunner's (TerminalMontage's character) voice! (dunno where the voice come from though)

  3. Øyvind N says:

    And I thought the SiS 6326 in the computer we had as a kids bad…, I wonder if you will do a review of that

  4. Brandon Bridges says:

    I would agree that S3 is worthless for 3d Gaming. But I don't agree that it's not good for retro gaming. The perfect DOS compatibility makes it perfect for pretty much all pre-3D games.

  5. Rebecca Schade says:

    Oh wow. I'm really sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the voice synthesizer used here, is just horrible to listen to. Makes the video unwatchable.

  6. Quantum says:

    the reason s3 virge sucks at 3d was because they was on the virge of extinctions due to they went s3 virtual reality instead of 3d

  7. Levente Frindt says:

    The voice synthesizer is horrible – it constantly puts the stress on the wrong syllable (e.g. megaBYTES) and sometimes even has a bad pronunciation of a word — com – pate – a – bil – i -ty: Seriously?

  8. Levente Frindt says:

    This review makes the same mistakes as almost all of the others I have seen. When properly tested, S3 Virge turns out to be one of the best 3D-accelerators ever. It was the first to be commercially available, it supported all features found in 1st gen accelerators (except some blending modes), initially many games written for it appeared (and very early, too), and it also supported Direct3D 3.

    This card was never meant to run most of the games/demos that are shown in this video.

    It was planned as an ACCELERATOR — it was meant to increase fps in early D3D and especially S3D games in the same resolution, with the same picture quality (no bilinear filtering), and on a typical system of the time – say, a Pentium 100 with 16 MBs of RAM.

    Reviewers always use very strong systems and maximum graphics settings.

    The same problem is encountered also with most reviews of Voodoo 1. There are a few great YT videos that get it right for Voodoo, e.g. these: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkzO2w6EqK4 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93slM7QSfZc. These show the accelerating power of the cards, by using average systems.

    Such a correct review of S3 Virge, sadly, never appeared.

    Of course, S3 Virge was also capable of improving graphics quality – but in that case, you had the same frame rate as in the software mode on a strong Pentium – or even worse, if you set everything to the max.

  9. Levente Frindt says:

    There are many videos on YT where A Voodoo 1 is used in fast systems without any texture bugs. I would approach swaaye, for example – he can probably help you.

  10. Levente Frindt says:

    Check this out, it's really interesting:


  11. Bobo91ism says:

    I think software mode in some of those games is most likely better

  12. Nadia says:

    Damn it is so slow it can't even handle the Akclaim logo

  13. JohnnyNismo says:

    It's the worst 3D card, because it's one of the first for the PC. However, it is one of the BEST DOS gaming cards ever made.

  14. Joan says:

    Full of great information but RIP Headphone users at 4:45…

  15. Petr Demuth says:

    This was considered a "gaming card"? I had s3 Virge gx2 and it was the same crap – no usable 3D acceleration so I run everything in a Software mode. I really envied a friend of mine who had exactly the same machine – Celeron 333Mhz, 32MB RAM, same s3 card but with 1 addition – Voodoo2! 🙂

  16. Ancient Electronics says:

    how do you initialize that FPS counter on Incoming?

  17. JohnnyNismo says:

    The 2D DOS performance is great though. I have one and it certainly is good for that use case.

  18. Bastian from KWHBSN says:

    Got this card for christmas 1996 and was badly diasappointed.

  19. mcserg84 says:

    It supported D3D but with 5-10 fps at any game in 1998!! Shame S3, 3d in the name was only for the marketing. Sold it in a used shop (and somebody bought it!!) and bought TNT2!)

  20. PentiumMMX says:

    good for 2d but bad for 3d, if you want 3d, get a nvidia riva, ati rage, 3dfx voodoo, etc.

  21. droolerdork says:

    This video sounds like it has good info, but I just can't sit through 30 min of text-to-speech.

  22. EVIL QTip says:

    Be Graphic card I ever used was the MatroxG400Max   That card for it's day on my 3.2Ghz system  was just incredible tech and details in games

  23. Raven Gaming says:

    I think the idea was to have S3 Virge as the 2D card and the 3dfx Voodoo as a 3D accelerator. S3 Virge deserves respect for being the first mainstream 2D/3D card produced in large quantities (OEMs) but it was too slow for 3D gaming.

  24. 3Dfx_Aslinger says:

    I have had a Elsa Victory 3D in 1996. Terminal Velocity with the S3 Virge was the only game that runs halfway with the S3d api. For best performance with the s3d api, you need a S3 Virge GX2 based card.

  25. Super Mario says:

    10.00 – You run Carmagedon 2 with the Voodoo 1 with direct3d not with Glide because Fraps does not run with Glide !

  26. Super Mario says:

    Great video. Please do a similar video with the Voodoo 3 vs Tnt 2

  27. Shawn Burton says:

    I don't even think they even make S3 virge cards anymore.

  28. venix20 says:

    dat slide show feeling / comic book feeling ! > cinematic feeling

  29. Eep386 says:

    I owned both the ViRGE 325 and later ViRGE/DX 375. They were absolutely horrible at 3D rendering, big surprise. Their forte was 2D and DOS VGA performance, both of which were pretty good for their time, and it was not uncommon to see ViRGE cards as 2D companions to 3dfx Voodoo1/2 boards in a late-90s gaming system.

  30. EJ205T says:

    My friend had this card stock in Acer pentium100 PC. And we always thought that Direct3D is laggy and buggy shit.

  31. itsGeorgeAgain says:

    God i stopped the video the moment i heard the synth voice. Why? your other videos had a real voice over.

  32. PentiumMMX says:

    it even has 3d glitches in PCem when i tested 3d games on it.

  33. Captain Stonker says:

    It’s the perfect DOS gaming card. Misleading title

  34. Doktor Hachi Roku says:

    19 S3 fans are mad, because someone found out they suck.

  35. windows 2000 lover says:

    lol i own the exat same thing

  36. Asdfguy86 says:

    i used to have an S3 Virge GX2 in my custom built pentium 2 pc…it was awful. even an ATi Rage Pro Turbo AGP blows it out of the water….

  37. Bits & more by René Rebe says:

    well for the early games intended for the card, it was not that bad. Also they had to start from scratch somewhere. Here is how to low level program it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXJ11_wG_0U

  38. Bits & more by René Rebe says:

    overclocked /DX running Descent II: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-djkOUvnRTg

  39. jarekz says:

    It's the worst and shi….. video I've ever seen. The card was quite good in it's time.

  40. Derek Witt says:

    I had a Diamond Stealth 3D 4000 (based on the S3 Virge GX2 chipset).

    It was so bad that the moire2 screensaver in XFree86 would hard lock my K6-2 350MHz system. I had to change a few lines in the source code of XFree86 to turn off a setting. It took me 8 hours to rebuild X.

    That video card was the worst card I used in Linux. It was OK in Windows 95. Nothing worth writing home about though.

  41. turbine graphics 16 says:

    Cards like this pushed me towards console gaming at the time, it was just a better experience. Most ps1 games were a solid 30 fps.

  42. madmax2069 says:

    I have a S3 virge DX, while horrible at 3d acceleration, it's is however one hell of an awesome DOS gaming card.

    I remember how amazing shadow warrior looked when using the S3 virge DX (Vesa), and the game just didn't look as good with the 3dfx voodoo 3 2000 I replace it with.

  43. claudiu ilie says:

    played half life on it at 320*240 🙂 omg the pain ,at least i was enjoying the gameplay

  44. mashakos says:

    The S3 virge single-handedly ruined the reputation of the PC as a gaming platform in the playstation era. Kids from my generation out right stopped paying attention to PC and all the crazy advancements popping up on it just one year after the S3 abomination … because of Directx games running on the S3 Virge at 2.5 fps

    You must remember that the S3 Virge came out right along with the N64 and just after the Playstation: it literally represented PC gaming for many who were deciding that generation. I went from being one of many PC gamers in the school playground to the only PC gamer in the school playground, because of S3 Virge.

  45. tHeWasTeDYouTh says:

    the WORST graphics card was the Intel 740 by Real3D, Inc.. It lasted less than a year on the market and it killed Real3D………..

  46. BrandonExplains says:

    S3 Virge was the slowest 3D accelerator ever made, but I think the point is missed that it was the first 3D graphics chip ever widely available in the mass market. It was out in 1995, and for many games it was perfectly playable (Terminal Velocity is a great example). 3dfx Voodoo is a 2nd generation device. I give it credit for being the first. And when Voodoo became available, if you had the free PCI slot, it became a good companion to the Virge. Virge wasn't the worst, it was the first. It was a great demonstration card.

  47. Jason Brooks says:

    Bus bottlenecked for sure… this is why the textures blink.

  48. Label Me Justin says:

    Sure it’s the worst for 3d but it’s one of the best for 2d

  49. PentiumMMX says:

    i use a virge dx for 2d and a voodoo 2 for 3d in my pentium ii PC

  50. Equals3 says:


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