Take a look at this graphics card artefact. No, not a visual artefact, this is a prime piece of graphics card history, a Voodoo 5 6000, and it’s on sale on eBay. This is the last graphics card out of 3dfx Interactive, a company once famed for ruling the graphics industry. Sadly the company crumbled before this GPU ever made it to market, and very few of these cards were ever produced as prototypes.
This exact listing is for a Voodoo 6 6000 revision 3700A, which makes it one of the last to be manufactured before the whole prototyping project was shuttered entirely. That also means it’s one of the few Voodoo models with most of the bugs squashed. It was built on a 250nm process, a far cry from the 7nm process nodes largely used for today’s best graphics cards (opens in new tab).
The card is currently selling for $13,200 (opens in new tab) (via Sweclockers (opens in new tab)), but that figure has been steadily increasing with every day. There’s still five days left for the listing, too, so expect it to fetch a small fortune by the end of the auction. After all, it’s a highly sought after prize for collectors.
“I have come to the conclusion that this card just isn’t the holy grail for me and that I have other pieces in my vintage hardware collection that simply mean more to me and will always mean more to me,” the seller writes.
“This card has been considered to be the ultimate holy grail piece for most if not all 3DFX enthusiasts/collectors. Which is why I’m wanting to pass it on to someone that will truly view it as such and get that warm and special feeling for it. I wish to pass the card to someone that will care for it for years to come and preserve the history and significance this card holds in the world of 3D.”
The Voodoo line of GPUs are some of the most influential graphics cards in PC gaming history (opens in new tab). You might only recognise Nvidia and AMD (and Intel, fair enough) as graphics card manufacturers today, but back in the late ’90s it was 3dfx that emerged from the primordial PC ooze to make the first genuinely decent graphics accelerator cards. Its most impressive creation: the Voodoo.
You ask any PC gamer from the ’90s what graphics card they loved the most and it’s probably the Voodoo or Voodoo2. You might find a few fond of the Nvidia Riva cards or the ‘world’s first GPU’, the GeForce 256, but Voodoo cards hold a special place in PC gamers’ hearts from that era.
It was all going so well for 3dfx, until it wasn’t. Intense competition from GeForce and Radeon (made by ATI at the time, not AMD) had put a lot of pressure on 3dfx. Unfortunately it just didn’t have the product to offer an alternative to the fast-paced and rapidly growing market, and by the time it had answers to Nvidia and ATI’s cards, it was on the brink of collapse.
3dfx was then subsumed by Nvidia (opens in new tab), a final blow from which it would never recover. The company gave Nvidia patents, brand names, and inventory for its products, meaning it pretty much ceased to exist and bolstered Nvidia’s efforts to compete with ATI. ATI then being bought by AMD in 2006 meant this all set up the two-horse race we’ve been accustomed to in the graphics card world for decades. Since last year Intel also has some skin in the game, making it a three-horse race with Nvidia far out ahead.
Perhaps in an alternate universe 3dfx would’ve stuck around and PC gamers would be more familiar with buying the latest $1,200 Voodoo 20K instead of a GeForce. But alas, the closest we’ll get is this $13,000 or more Voodoo 5 6000, and it’s sadly even more out of my price range than a GeForce RTX 4090 (opens in new tab).
Actually, there is one other way to Voodoo 5 nirvana. A modder decided enough was enough and decided to map out their own Voodoo 5 6000 clone (opens in new tab) a couple years’ back. They produced a fully working model of the card, BIOS and all.