Napalm and hell fire
In the random chance that you might be confused, the title above is not a typo. This is indeed a review of the Voodoo4. If a few bolts are still rattling around up there, let me reassure you, we didn't simply forget to review an entire generation of cards, and suddenly decide to make up for the oversight a few months later. In reality, the Voodoo4 was released a tad late, just like its bigger the brother, the Voodoo5 5500. Expect a more than fashionably late entrance by the grand daddy of them all, the Voodoo5 6000 in the very near future.
The 4500 is 3dfx's low-cost, entry level video card. When you think about it, 3dfx didn't really have too much to think about when it came to filling this low cost niche. Lets look at the situation. Primary product: the Voodoo5 5500 - two VSA-100 processors. The yet to be born Voodoo5 6000 - 4 processors.
Voodoo4 4500 AGP
What to do with the low-end scene? If we keep to the 3dfx method, we could either go up or down in even numbers. Neither works out very well; eight processors leaves most of us with a gaping hole in our pockets, and a zero processor card leaves us with nothing but some bits of PCB. If we follow the Goldilocks method and use one processor we have bliss. Lower cost and fewer parts - the Voodoo4 4500 is born.
(Of course, I'd argue that the number of VSA-100 chips on each board isn't a function of even numbers, rather exponential values of 2, but then we would lose Sarju's… interesting gaping hole and empty PCB imagery. -ed)
So what can this card do?
For starters, the Voodoo4 will fit in most cases. Let me repeat that in case you missed it. The Voodoo4 is a normal sized card that will fit in just about any case, short of a mini-micro desktop with zero slots available. It also does not require extra power in the form of a hard drive power connector like the Voodoo5 5500, or in the case of the Voodoo5 6000, an external power brick.
Feature-wise, the Voodoo4 has most of the amenities of a Voodoo5. Aside from the physical differences of having half the amount of RAM and VSA-100 chips, there isn't much else different (as if that wasn't enough). Clock speeds are the same and the card is pretty much a Voodoo5 sliced in half. The Voodoo4 is not able to run 4x FSAA, and the card cannot perform the T-Buffer effects native to the Voodoo5. The card can do 2x FSAA. Yes, the rumors are true!