3dfx Voodoo 2 Repair Attempt

I’m always keeping an eye out for old parts on eBay. One of my saved searches, of course, is for the string “3dfx”. I’ve always had a soft spot for the original king of 3D gaming, but just about everything made by 3dfx is collectable and commands a hefty price premium these days. I usually try to steer clear of things marked “untested” or “for repair” but sometimes a deal is just too good to pass up.

When I came across this as-is, untested 3dfx Voodoo 2 for a great price, I decided to take a chance on it. It did show some obvious signs damage in the eBay listing pictures, including some visible scratches and a bent PCI bracket. I could also see some of the chip legs were bent, which can sometimes be tricky to get straightened out. I knew it would probably not work without a repair or two, but maybe I’d get lucky?

The most obvious sign of damage to the card was a bent PCI bracket and some deep scratching that may have damaged traces near the VGA output connector. Some of the solder joints for the VGA connector pins have also been crushed and look to be shorting out.

Another pretty clear problem are the tiny legs on all three 3dfx component chips. Each had several bent legs that were shorting out. These would need to be carefully straightened out with a fine-edged knife and magnifying glass – not a fun job.

Next comes the disappointing part that wasn’t visible in the eBay listing – missing surface mount components. I counted a total of five surface mount capacitors that had snapped off. The picture above shows capacitor “C9” which is clearly broken off.

The closer I looked, the more I found. After close inspection, I found no fewer than five missing:

  1. C9 (rear, near SLI connector)
  2. C48 (front, bottom right corner)
  3. C128 (rear, near 500-0010-01 chip)
  4. C81 (rear, near 500-0010-01 chip)
  5. C108 (rear, near 500-0010-01 chip)

Thankfully, there is an awesome community out there and many 3dfx hardware fans to lean on for help. Someone named sdz posted a very helpful Voodoo 2 component map, with capacitor and resistor specifications for anyone looking to replace some. The component map was for the reference design board, but four out of the five capacitors were listed there. After posting some pictures and a question in the thread, I quickly received the information I was looking for.

Let the Repairs Begin!

The first thing I did was straighten out all of the legs on the three component chips. This proved to be more challenging than I had original thought. The TMUs were not too bad, but the 500-0009-01 proved to be a real pain due to how many legs there are and their close proximity to eachother. After what felt like an eternity with a magnifying glass and a straight-edge I was confident that all of the shorts were addressed.

Now that there was nothing visibly shorting out, I thought I’d try to run the card in a test system to see if it was at all functional. The first problem was that there was no pass-through VGA output. I had to connect my monitor to the 2D card in the system to see anything. Despite this, it was detected fine and I was able to install drivers in Windows. Maybe there was some hope after all?

Trace Repair

Since there was no passthrough VGA output, my attention was immediately turned to the trace damage. Using a multimeter, I discovered that two traces had lost continuity and would need to be repaired. One of those traces joins the two VGA connectors for passthrough use. I decided to do a quick and dirty jumper cable repair just to see if I could get continuity again.

It doesn’t look pretty, but it was successful! Passthrough VGA was now working again. Now comes the real question – does 3D graphics processing work despite all of the missing capacitors? Nope. The system would hard-lock every time I tried to launch anything that uses Glide. Even the Voodoo 2 control panel tab would hang the system.

Surface Mount Capacitor Repair

Next came the difficult part. My soldering skills aren’t the greatest and these capacitors are absolutely tiny. With the help of some folks on the Vogons forum, I was able to identify the capacitors as:

C9 broken off (rear, near SLI connector, 3.3-4.7uF, minimum 6.3V, 1206 cap)
C48 broken off (front, bottom right corner, 1nF 25V 0603 cap)
C128 broken off (rear, near 500-0010-01 chip, 100nf 25V)
C81 broken off (rear, near 500-0010-01 chip, 1nF 25V 0603 cap)
C108 broken off (rear, near 500-0010-01 chip, 1nF 25V 0603 cap)

For about $3, I was able to buy everything I needed from Digikey. The shipping was actually twice the cost of the components. In addition, I bought a practice PCB from Amazon with a cariety of surface mount components to get some practice with. I really didn’t want to learn on the Voodoo 2!

Above you can see C108 and C81.

The end result turned out quite well! All of the replacements made it on without too much difficulty. Once you get the method down, it really isn’t too difficult.  

The End Result

In the end, despite my best efforts and triple checks, the card is still dead. It continues to freeze up my systems whenever it attempts to switch into 3D mode. I used a utility called MOJO.EXE, which is a Glide diagnostic tool released by 3dfx years back. With verbose mode enabled, I was able to see that the card freezes up during initialization.

I really felt like I had a chance to get this card working again, but such is the reality of dealing with old and neglected hardware. I suspect that any further diagnostics and repair would be beyond my skill level or beyond the tools I have at my disposal.

I’m not sure what I’ll do with this card, aside from keep it as a collectors item. At any rate, it was a great learning experience for me and I felt that my soldering skills have definitely improved because of it.

RIP Creative 3dfx Voodoo 2.

10 thoughts on “3dfx Voodoo 2 Repair Attempt”

  1. …and I was so hoping that adventure would have been successful! Sometimes they can break your spirit but when repairs like these goes well you seem to remember the high forever. Enjoyable read, keep up the efforts!

    1. Thanks Carlos! Glad you enjoyed it. I was really hoping I could get it going again after replacing so many broken surface mount components. At any rate, it was a great learning experience and I had fun trying. Hopefully I’ll find another V2 card for a decent price one day.

  2. Thanks for posting. I was in need of a component map, until this article, I didn’t even know what to call it. Thank you, you link will provide me with the resources to repair my Voodoo2 card which I was the numbskull to accidentally knock off a capacitor! Thanks

  3. Good read. I have a voodoo 2 that doesn’t work and I want to see if I can fix it. Found it in a pentium 2 I found at a thrift store.

    1. Thanks! That’s an awesome thrift store find. I keep thinking about this Voodoo 2. I recently got a hot air rework station, so I may revisit this if I get some more time. I’m determined to get it working one of these days 🙂

  4. Hey! Marko from the Slovenian Computer History Museum here, I’m trying to put a sleek SLI demo PC together and have one Voodoo2 in working condition but just like you a CT6670 board is giving me trouble. (Note that this is all tested using the FastVoodoo2 4.6 drivers on Win98.)

    The symptoms are: testing just the CT6670 board, the VGA passthrough works but the first sign something is wrong is the Display properties window won’t open – it will freeze. Also when trying to run a 3D game the screen turns completely dark green and freezes.

    From my visual inspection the card is fine and no components are damaged but maybe I missed something: https://imgur.com/a/ysInhIV

    But reading your blog post makes me thing that perhaps something else completely goes silently wrong with these particular cards after so many years and it is not related to some broken off capacitors… hmm. :/

    1. Hi Marko, sorry for the slow reply. Thanks for your comment! The freezing display properties page sounds like exactly the same problem I’m running into. I recently picked up a new microscope for soldering work, so I’m hoping to take another look at the card up close one of these days in case I missed something. I’m not too optimistic though, I think one of the 3dfx chips is likely defective. Did you try the MOJO tool in verbose mode to see where the card freezes up during initialization? You may also want to try to give it a good cleaning with isopropyl alcohol and a toothbrush just in case. Best of luck with your card!

      1. Hey! Thanks for your suggestions, I will get back to you when I have time to pick up the ol’ Voodoo2 card again 🙂 Now moving on to other hw stuff for our grand opening in June.

  5. Hello , the card either has a bad 3dfx Gpu , or a bad FBI chip , stop messing with the card , it wont help you , i have an almost new Voodoo 2 , problem with GPU , when it tries to acces glide or control panel , or anything that needs to initialize the 3d chip , the sistem will hang/freez …
    Remember when you have the pass through cable and another vga card , the sistem will work in 2d , using your main vga card , the voodoo card just takes the signal from your main card and outputs it via voodoo’s vga output ( if you would break the card in half , you would still have signal output from the voodoo’s vga output )

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