Taken from our Voodoo5 5500 review:
When we first previewed a preproduction Voodoo5 5500, we proclaimed that:
This is where the biggest performance improvement will lie, in the drivers. It is quite obvious that the drivers we were provided with weren’t optimized for performance across the board, since the performance of the Voodoo5 at lower resolutions such as 640 x 480 was sub-par.
We have definitely seen a slight improvement with the final drivers, the improvement is not as great as we had expected or hoped for. Overall we saw about 1-3 fps increase at most resolutions in Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament - less than 5% - and that can be partially attributed to final silicon. We did occasionally see drops in performance, but this was mainly at lower resolutions where it's not even noticeable.
We'd also like to address the much publicized "correct method" to install the Voodoo5 drivers that claim to increase performance up to three times. It was originally posted on 3dfxgamers.com's messageboards and discussed quite a bit in the AnandTech Forums as well. The problem appears when the card is identified as a "3dfx Voodoo Series," usually due to a previous 3dfx adapter in the system that was not uninstalled properly. If you did properly uninstall your old 3dfx card, or you never had one, this isn't an issue. When we originally tested the Voodoo5 for our preview, we used a cleanly formatted hard drive as we always do in our testing, so those performance numbers were not affected by this problem with the 3dfx installer. Needless to say, we've done the same thing in this final review.
There's also been some talk of refresh rates having a significant impact on performance. As with most recent cards we've tested, this is not the result that we have found in our testing. All our gaming benchmarks are performed at 60Hz with v-sync disabled.
Other than that, 3dfx tools remains relatively unchanged from the prerelease version. In order to obtain WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Labs) certification, Microsoft does not allow vendors to include overclocking utilities or the ability to disable vsync. 3dfx's solution? Include a link in the drivers to download their overclocking utility that also adds check boxes to disable vsync. This way, 3dfx gets their WHQL certification to keep OEM's happy, while end-users get their tweaking utilities - that way everybody ends up happy. Kudos for 3dfx here for not requiring registry hacks or 3rd party utilities.