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ABIT Siluro FX5600 Ultra OTES 128MB (400 MHz)
ASUS V9560 Ultra 128MB (400 MHz)
Chaintech A-FX70 128MB (350 MHz)

on NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra

September 4, 2003






CONTENTS

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

Today we've got several cards based on the GeForce FX 5600 Ultra processor, which corresponds to the upper Middle-End sector.

The prices have finally dropped to the appropriate level and hit the $200 mark. Such cards are not new in our lab and were tested a lot of times before. You can find the reviews in the list below.

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

The GeForce FX 5600 Ultra is a direct competitor of ATI's RADEON 9600 PRO. Unfortunately, the prices for the RADEON fall down slower, though the situation has recently changed a little. 

Note that there are two kinds of the 5600 Ultra: 350 and 400 MHz. Some card makers offer both versions (Albatron, Chaintech, Leadtek, ABIT and others). ASUSTeK and Gainward have only the 400MHz cards to offer.

Today we will test three cards which come from ABIT, ASUSTeK and Chaintech. Two are clocked at 400 MHz, the third one at 350 MHz. ABIT and Chaintech have both 5600 Ultra versions, which fortunately look different: the 400MHz variants are outfitted with a complex cooling system (ABIT's OTES has a special sink that covers the whole PCB, like that of Chaintech), and the 350MHz variants have simpler coolers which do not cover the memory chips.

Cards

ABIT Siluro FX5600 Ultra OTES 128MB (400 MHz)


ASUS V9560 Ultra 128MB (400 MHz)


Chaintech A-FX70 128MB (350 MHz)



 
AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM in 8 chips on both PCB sides. 

ABIT Siluro FX5600 Ultra OTES 128MB (400 MHz); ASUS V9560 Ultra 128MB (400 MHz)
Hynix memory chips of 2.5ns access time, which corresponds to 400 (800) MHz, and the memory does work at this frequency, the GPU runs at 400 MHz. 128bit memory interface. 


Chaintech A-FX70 128MB (350 MHz)
Hynix memory chips of 2.8ns access time, which corresponds to 350 (700) MHz, and the memory does work at this frequency, the GPU runs at 350 MHz. 128bit memory interface.



 
Comparison with the reference design, front view
ABIT Siluro FX5600 Ultra OTES 128MB (400 MHz) Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra (new revision)






ASUS V9560 Ultra 128MB (400 MHz)






Chaintech A-FX70 128MB (350 MHz) Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra (old revision)










 
Comparison with the reference design, back view
ABIT Siluro FX5600 Ultra OTES 128MB (400 MHz) Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra (new revision)






ASUS V9560 Ultra 128MB (400 MHz)






Chaintech A-FX70 128MB (350 MHz) Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra (old revision)







All the cards are based on the updated reference design.

Now let's have a look at the coolers.
 
   

ABIT Siluro FX5600 Ultra OTES 128MB (400 MHz)
This is one more incarnation of ABIT's own technology OTES, the 3d generation.

The general conception is similar to what we saw on nVIDIA's FlowFX. The fan is lifted above the PCB, the exhaust placed a step above is connected to the base with copper pipes containing low-boiling liquid. The only difference is that the chips on ABIT's card have dedicated sinks on both sides (not only underneath).

The OTES III makes much less noise than the FlowFX, but the noise is anyway irritating, even when the system switches to 2D and the cooler stops in a while.













ASUS V9560 Ultra 128MB (400 MHz)
This is an ordinary copper heatsink with multiple plates for effective cooling, and with heatsinks for the memory.





Chaintech A-FX70 128MB (350 MHz)
This one is an average GPU cooler.



 

ASUSTeK's card comes bundled with an external TV codec, Philips 7114, which supports Video-In. The VIVO is thus fully supported. But the TV-out is realized in the GeForce FX5600 Ultra.




Here are the processors themselves:
 

ASUS V9560 Ultra 128MB (400 MHz); ABIT Siluro FX5600 Ultra OTES 128MB (400 MHz)





Chaintech A-FX70 128MB (350 MHz)




The 400MHz cards have the chip in the FCPGA package (in contrast to the BGA in the previous revision).

ABIT's card is pretty bulky:




The cooler locks the first PCI slot. Moreover, any card inserted into the second slot might prevent proper cooling:




Let's see what the cards have with them.

ABIT Siluro FX5600 Ultra OTES 128MB (400 MHz) 
User manual, TV extension cords, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter, software suite pictured on the photo on the right.





ASUS V9560 Ultra 128MB (400 MHz)
User manual, CD with drivers and utilities, ASUSDVD, games, software for VIVO; S-Video-to-RCA adapter, TV extension cord, VIVO splitter.


Chaintech A-FX70 128MB (350 MHz)
User manual, CD with drivers and utilities, S-Video-to-RCA adapter, TV extension cord, external power supply splitter. All cables are made at the company's factory.



 
Here are the packages:

ABIT Siluro FX5600 Ultra OTES 128MB (400 MHz) 
The outer box contains three more packages, with the letters on top of them forming a single word (trade mark). 

The left box contains the card buried into some soft stuff. The other boxes (one over the other) have the rest, i.e. software and manual, cables and adapters.







ASUS V9560 Ultra 128MB (400 MHz)
This long modern box has the design in ASUS's style.


Chaintech A-FX70 128MB (350 MHz)
Chaintech's box looks traditional as well.



 

Testbed and drivers

Testbed: 

  • 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. 

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: 

ABIT Siluro FX5600 Ultra OTES 128MB (400 MHz)  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz
ASUS V9560 Ultra 128MB (400 MHz) 1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz
Chaintech A-FX70 128MB (350 MHz) 1600x1200x75Hz, 1280x1024x100Hz, 1024x768x100Hz

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.

Performance

Conclusion

Well, if the prices fall down lower than the $200 mark, the cards will have every chance to succeed.

ABIT's card looks beautiful but it's not a quiet card at all. However, overclockers may like it because its core potential can reach 466 MHz and over.

The most functional card comes from ASUSTeK due to the VIVO support and a rich accessory pack. I hope the stunning prices I saw at the end of August will soon get trimmed to be more in line with the card's capabilities.

Chaintech's solution is an ordinary card. Fortunately, the 350MHz solution differs much from the 400MHz one (the latter has a more complicated cooler and a different name - A-FX71). If it's not overpriced, it will be a good modern solution for the upper Middle-End market.

Also remember that the main advantage of the GeForce FX 5600/5600 Ultra compared to NVIDIA's previous products is enhanced AA and anisotropy functions. 

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

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)
 

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