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AOpen Aeolus FX 5600 128MB, Soltek GeForce FX 5600 128MB Video Cards Review

July 14, 2003


  1. Video cards' features
  2. Testbed configuration, test tools, 2D quality
  3. Performance comparison
  4. Conclusion

The summer is at its height, the sales are falling down, but the number of new mainstream accelerators coming onto the shelves in growing up. The reviews below will give you an idea of the previously announced 5600 Ultra.

Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards which concern functional properties of the GPU NVIDIA GeForce FX

The FX 5600 is a midlevel accelerator which can soon fall down to the low-end sector because the production cost of such cards is not great, and almost all NVIDIA's partners are engaged in production of such cards. Besides, Chinese firms are also ready to start their mass production.

By the end of the summer the prices can fall down to $110-120 (no one knows yet what will happen to the 5200 Ultra which have a higher cost price and lower performance).

Is the GeForce FX 5600 worth buying? Once again, if you have a card of the GeForce4 Ti level, it doesn't make sense to replace it with this accelerator; but if you are only choosing between the RADEON 9600, GeForce4 Ti 4200 and FX 5600, you should remember that the FX 5600 loses to the GeForce4 Ti 4200 if the anisotropy and AA  are not enabled, but wins with them.

Nevertheless, the GeForce4 Ti as an outdated product leaves the market little by little. But it won't lose popularity that quickly because of low prices of cards selling out from the stocks. However, both ATI and NVIDIA are going to replace the RADEON 9500/9500 PRO and GeForce4 Ti with more modern RADEON 9600 and GeForce FX 5600. Such replacement may look strange, but market is market. The RADEON 9500, best in all respects, leaves the scene (the RADEON 9500 PRO can hardly be found anywhere), and the RADEON 9600, having poorer scores results but a stronger pricecut potential is rapidly replacing the 9500. The GeForce4 Ti is in the same situation. Although no games with the DX9 support are available yet, the marketing machine is pressing the GeForce4 Ti out from the market.

Whether we like it or not but we have to trace products appearing on the scene and products made in quantities. The GeForce FX 5600 is right from this category. Today we are going to study two cards based on the FX 5600.



AOpen Aeolus FX 5600 128MB

Soltek GeForce FX 5600 128MB

AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM in 8 chips on the front and back PCB sides.
AOpen Aeolus FX 5600 128MB; Soltek GeForce FX 5600 128MB
Samsung memory chips of 3.6ns access time; it corresponds to 275 (550) MHz. The memory works at the same frequency, the GPU runs at 325 MHz.

Comparison with the reference design, front view
AOpen Aeolus FX 5600 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600

Soltek GeForce FX 5600 128MB

Comparison with the reference design, back view
AOpen Aeolus FX 5600 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600

Soltek GeForce FX 5600 128MB

The design looks like the reference one; none of them has anything outstanding.

Now comes the coolers.

AOpen Aeolus FX 5600 128MB
This is a usual round cooler from ThermalTake (the old revision).

Soltek GeForce FX 5600 128MB
And this is an original cooling system, and it reminds the one previously used on numerous GeForce4 ti based cards, - the same closed heatsink and air throughput. The cooler's noise level is pretty low (remember that we estimated it only during the tests). The fan's blades are covered with  the paint that shines in the ultraviolet rays.

Both cards are equipped with an external TV codec, that is why the VIVO is not supported, and the TV-out is realized via the GPU.

As usual, the GPU GeForce FX 5600 rests under the cooler:

Now let's see what the box contains: 

AOpen Aeolus FX 5600 128MB
User Guide, CD with drivers and utilities  (including the WinDVD), DVI-to-dSub and SVideo-to-RCA adapters.

Soltek GeForce FX 5600 128MB
User Guide, CD with drivers and utilities, SVideo-to-RCA adapter and TV extender.

The cards ship in the retail package. 

AOpen Aeolus FX 5600 128MB
The card is packed into a stylish box made of thick cardboard. What did the designers want to say using so expressionless faces is unknown.

Soltek GeForce FX 5600 128MB
This is a Soltek's traditional cardboard box  with a girl holding a sword. The  package that is put inside simply falls apart when you take it out - be careful when fishing the card out because everything that's inside can fall down and get damaged.

Testbed and drivers


  • Pentium 4 3200 MHz based computer:
    • Intel Pentium 4 3200 MHz CPU;
    • DFI LANParty Pro875 (i875P) mainboard; 
    • 1024 MB DDR SDRAM; 
    • Seagate Barracuda IV 40GB HDD; 
    • Windows XP SP1; DirectX 9.0a;
    • ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors.
    • NVIDIA drivers v44.65.

VSync off, S3TC off in applications.

Test results

Before we start examining 2D quality, I should say there are no complete techniques for objective 2D quality estimation because: 

  1. 2D quality much depends on certain samples for almost all modern 3D accelerators; 
  2. Besides videocards, 2D quality depends on monitors and cables; 
  3. Moreover, certain monitors might not work properly with certain video cards. 

With the ViewSonic P817 monitor and BNC Bargo cable the cards showed excellent quality at the following resolutions and clock speeds:

AOpen Aeolus FX 5600 128MB 1600x1200x75Hz, 1280x1024x100Hz, 1024x768x120Hz (satisfactory)
Soltek GeForce FX 5600 128MB 1600x1200x75Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz (good)

Test results: comparison of the cards' performance

Test applications:

June 2003 summary diagrams of videocards performance with the latest drivers

Overclocked cards are marked red, clock speeds follow 'o/c' sign.  


  1. AOpen Aeolus FX 5600 128MB is a copy of the reference card without any outstanding features; the demand will depend on the price;
  2. Soltek GeForce FX 5600 128MB is also a reference card without anything peculiar.

In our 3Digest you can find full comparison characteristics for video cards of this and other classes.  

Remember that the prices for the FX 5600 are falling down, and the previous products are gradually fading away from the market (first of all, the RADEON 9500), that is why the 5600 will be in demand. But at present the GeForce4 Ti and the remains of the RADEON 9500 (not to mention the RADEON 9500 PRO) look more attractive; however, the companies' policy may soon press out such products from the market (it's not profitable for the manufacturers themselves to produce competitors).

Let me remind you once again that NVIDIA/ATI drivers can have cheats for one or another test which may affect the cards' performance to a certain degree.

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

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