Full scene anti-aliasing
FSAA is one of the biggest selling points of the Voodoo4 4500, and as such we should mention a bit about it. We've probably beaten this topic to death a million times over. Full scene anti-aliasing is a method used to smooth out all those jagged edges in your favorite 3D games. FSAA makes all those wheels round, and lines that should be straight, straight. In short FSAA removes all the jaggies, sparklies, and crawlies that are rendered. Daikatana aside, anything that might look odd is probably something that FSAA can fix.
FSAA is extremely taxing on modern day video cards. As of the moment, there are two different methods by which to perform FSAA. One is called RGSS (rotated-grid super-sampling), and the other OGSS (ordered-grid super-sampling). OGSS being a derivative of RGSS, tends to be slightly less taxing on video cards. Both involve pre-rendering the image at a higher resolution and then somehow mussing it up before it is drawn on the screen.
NVIDIA uses the OGSS method while 3dfx uses RGSS. We've had quite a few comparisons of the two implementations, all arriving at the conclusion that NVIDIA doesn't quite cut it in that scene. 3dfx thoroughly owns FSAA territory for now. Should you want more information on these processes, go on and take a look at our previous FSAA comparison articles: Part II and Part III. (Don't ask what happened to Part I; I've permanently blocked out that section of my memory.)
Seeing as the Voodoo5 wasn't exactly a stunner in the performance category, what could happen to a Voodoo5 that is cut in half? Since blazing performance was not the reason people bought the Voodoo5, fears should probably be somewhat alleviated. People wanted the compatibility guaranteed by 3dfx's strong reputation, FSAA, and possibly Glide support. The Voodoo4 maintains all that, but don't expect FSAA performance to be a no sweat feature.
In our tests, we used both the Voodoo4 AGP and PCI versions of the card. The AGP card came in a box with the requisite scary face Voodoo guy. The PCI version arrived in the standard non-descript white OEM box. Not much to set them apart other than the niceties and interface differences. Installation didn't prove to be much of a challenge. Plug, chug and run the driver executable.
Without further ado, onto the tests!