iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Inno3D Tornado GeForce FX5900 128MB Video Card Review


  1. Video card's features
  2. Testbed configuration, test tools, 2D quality 
  3. Test results: performance diagrams
  4. Conclusion

Today we are to discuss high-end video cards coming from manufacturers who were treated with disrespect for quite a long time.

Noname cards based on the GeForce FX 5800/5900 and RADEON 9700 PRO/9800 PRO could be often seen in price-lists. The experience, for example with cards assembled on the GeForce2 MX/4 MX, showed that noname is a lottery. Clock speeds can be cut down and the memory bus narrowed. What is noname in the High-End sector? 

We know that NDIDIA placed orders for the cards of the GeForce FX 5800 level with third companies which then made finished products. Such cards were purchased by vendors, packed in their boxes and delivered to the retail market, or they were supplied in the OEM packages for SI, i.e. for assemblers (HP, Dell etc.). The assemblers either refused to buy them or sent such cards directly to the gray market. This is how the market got flooded with the GeForce FX 5800 cards which are now selling as noname products.

Noname cards based on the GeForce FX 5900 passed a similar way, as well as the RADEON 9700/9800, with the only exception that such cards are made on well-known PC Partner's factories (compared to NVIDIA's secret ones). 

So, noname in case of the GeForce FX 5800/5900 and RADEON 9700/9800 implies that their quality is the same or even better as that of the popular brands. But they come without any accessories (including cables) and boxes. 

It should be also noted that such cards can be made by even such companies as Sparkle, Palit or others of this kind but sellers haven't recognized them yet and prefer to mask the real names (they marks such cards simply as NVIDIA GeForce... or ATI RADEON...).

One of such companies whose names sellers are not fond of is InnoVision Multimedia. Moreover, if you remember, you can find quite a number of faked cards allegedly from this firm. 

The High-End cards coming under the Inno3D trade mark have all needed characteristics expected from expensive products. However, the negative attitude towards Inno3D's low-end cards and faked cards affects the company's image. Every firm can have defective goods even in the High-End sector, and you should simply replace such card. I haven't noticed yet any cases of reducing the bus bandwidth or clock speeds of the High-End (GeForce3, GeForce3 Ti500, GeForce4 Ti 4600, GeForce FX 5800, GeForce FX 5900, RADEON 8500 (not LE!), RADEON 9700 PRO, RADEON 9800 PRO).

Just remember that High-End remains High-End, i.e. it's too expensive for Chinese unknown firms to make profit with. Besides, such cards usually leave the market before they get into the low-end sector. Now let's turn to the GeForce FX 5900.

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

The reviews above perfectly cover all strong and weak points of the GPU and cards based on it.

InnoVision Multimedia is headquartered in Hong Kong and has production facilities in China and branch offices in Germany and USA. Inno3D's current products have Inno3D's logo painted on the PCB and respective stickers. Besides, all modern products from InnoVision ship in retail packages.


Inno3D Tornado GeForce FX5900 128MB

AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM in 8 chips on both PCB sides. 
Inno3D Tornado GeForce FX5900 128MB
Hynix memory chips of 2.2ns access time, which corresponds to 454 (908) MHz. The memory works at 425 (850) MHz, the GPU runs at 400 MHz. 256bit memory interface.

Comparison with the reference design, front view
Inno3D Tornado GeForce FX5900 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900

Comparison with the reference design, back view
Inno3D Tornado GeForce FX5900 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900


Here are some aspects to be pointed out: 

  1. The card is a copy of the new revision of the reference sample
  2. The memory size was cut down to 128MB (from 256MB) - on the backside there is empty space for missing BGA chips. But the 256bit bus wasn't shortened because  the card has 8 32bit memory chips (256 bits in all). The card just doesn't support the dual-bank memory mode.

Here's how the cooler looks like.

Inno3D Tornado GeForce FX5900 128MB
This is a two-fan cooler which consists of a massive heatsink covering both GPU and memory chips.

The heatsink is made of aluminum alloy, two fans driving away air are located under the grid. Both fans have LEDs which make a beautiful effect in combination with the grid. However, they designers didn't take into account that video cards are usually installed with heatsinks looking downward. Why wouldn't make lights above?...:-)

Unfortunately, the cooler is pretty noisy, though it's not high-pitch noise.

The card has no TV codec though the TV-out is realized right in the NV35.

Such cards are usually pretty big

Although the cooler doesn't occupy the first PCI slot, the sink's cover is just 2 mm away from its center:

As you can see, you can insert only cards with nothing on the back. However, we wouldn't recommend even such cards because they may affect proper cooling.

Here is the GPU itself:

Inno3D Tornado GeForce FX5900 128MB
Apart from the card the box contains discs with software, WinFast DVD, 3DMark03 Pro(!), Comanche4, and 5 demo versions of games. There's also a user manual, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter and TV-out extenders.

Here's the package:

Inno3D Tornado GeForce FX5900 128MB
The company has redesigned the package: now it's a thick cardboard box covered with polygraphic pictures instead of a simple white box in a glossy cover. Dark colors are replaced with light ones. 


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 v45.20.

VSync off, S3TC off in applications. 


Inno3D Tornado GeForce FX5900 128MB 400/850 -> 460/950 MHz (good score!)

Note that: 

  • during the overclocking you should provide additional cooling, in particular, for the card (first of all, for its memory):

  • overclocking depends on a sample, and you shouldn't generalize the results of one card to all video cards of this trade mark or series. The overclocking results are not the obligatory characteristics of video cards.

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 card showed excellent quality at the following resolutions and clock speeds:

Inno3D Tornado GeForce FX5900 128MB  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x100Hz, 1024x768x120Hz


The 2D quality is excellent (no deviation from the reference design). But flickering takes place again. We are still waiting for NVIDIA to solve the problem. 

Test results: performance comparison

Test applications: 

  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein (MultiPlayer) (id Software/Activision) - OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703-demo, test settings - maximum, S3TC OFF, the configurations can be downloaded from here



    Test order: press '~' to invoke the console then type: 

    timedemo 1 (press Enter)
    demo [file name] (press Enter)

  • Unreal 2: The Awakening (Infogrames), DirectX 8.1, multitexturing, tested with the additional packet Bench'emAll! 2.5beta.

  • Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v.1.05 (Croteam/GodGames) - OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703demo, test settings: quality. 

  • Test order: press '~' to invoke the console then type:

    dem_bProfile=1 (press Enter)
    start the demo from the menu

  • Codecreatures Benchmark Pro (Codecult) - Direct3D, Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, high quality

  • Test order: 

    Codecreatures Benchmark Pro.exe (press Enter) Select a required test in the menu, or run the tests (in the Official Benchmark submenu) starting from 1600x1200 up to 1024x768.

  • Unreal Tournament 2003 v.2225 (Digital Extreme/Epic Games) - Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality

  • ixbt0703demo test scene.

  • RightMark 3D (one of the game scenes) - DirectX 8.1, Dot3, cube texturing, shadow buffers, vertex and pixel shaders (1.1, 1.4).

  • test settings: pixel shaders 1.1, shadow buffers OFF.



If we disregard the problem of flickering so much spoken about though it infected far not all FX 5900 based cards (but it's still the developers' fault), we can consider it a good and quality product. Taking into account that Inno3D usually sets prices lower than those of brand-name cards, even the noisy cooler wouldn't be so eye-popping (except for fighters for the absolute silence who look for fanless systems).

The Inno3D Tornado GeForce FX5900 128MB offers:

  1. A very high speed in 3D graphics almost comparable to the RADEON 9800 PRO (in the heavy modes with AA and anisotropy), with the prices being nearly equal or even lower; 
  2. A finished modern technological solution with the DX9 support (such games are not far away), though the shaders are slower than those of ATI's solution; 
  3. A good cooler though not noiseless. 

One more GeForce FX 5900 based card is very similar to the other solutions reviewed. All of them use the reference design but can capture user's attention with a cooler, package, accessories, and certainly, their price.

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

Andrew Worobyew (anvakams@ixbt.com)

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