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Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB
Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB
Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB

on NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900SE

October 30, 2003







CONTENTS

  1. Video cards features
  2. Testbed, test tools, 2D quality 
  3. Test results: Quake3 ARENA
  4. Test results: Serious Sam: The Second Encounter
  5. Test results: Return to Castle Wolfenstein
  6. Test results: Code Creatures DEMO
  7. Test results: Unreal Tournament 2003
  8. Test results: Unreal II: The Awakening
  9. Test results: RightMark 3D
  10. Test results: TRAOD: Benchmarking in paris5_4
  11. Test results: TRAOD: Benchmarking in paris1c
  12. Test results: TRAOD: Benchmarking in paris2g
  13. Test results: HALO: Combat Evolved
  14. Test results: Half-Life2(beta): ixbt07 benchmark
  15. Test results: Half-Life2(beta): coast benchmark
  16. Conclusion

Although NVIDIA newer products to offer than the FX 5900, we keep on testing this line as it also has something new to offer.

You know that every line has lower-level processors based on the chips that failed to operate stably at the clock speed required, such processors have lower frequencies, and such cards come with slower and cheaper memory. Among them are GeForce3 Ti 200, GeForce4 Ti 4200, RADEON LE, RADEON 8500LE, RADEON 9700 etc.

Apart from the 5900 and 5900 Ultra processors the GeForce FX 5900 line also includes slower FXs. They don't have an official - let's call them GeForce FX 5900SE. Before I explain the situation have a look at the list of reviews of the GeForce FX based cards.

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


GeForce FX 5900SE. Again lower clock speeds and shorter buses? That was the case with the MX440SE, and the RADEON 9600SE differs from the 9600 exactly in the bus. But this time it's a different case. The new cards from Albatron and Leadtek can be really called GeForce FX 5900 based products without any suffixes! The fact is that the clock speed of such cards is identical to the normal GeForce FX 5900 - 400 MHz! The cards are just equipped with slower memory. Taking into account that all 5900 cards have a 256bit bus, this fact can affect only the AA mode. The price is noticeably lower than that of the normal FX 5900!

Today we will test three video cards based on the normal FX 5900 and equipped with slower memory, one of which has a redesigned PCB.

As you might know Albatron produces several intermediate versions apart from NVIDIA's official cards. For the FX5900 line the company offers 4 or 5 graphics cards.

Leadtek created a card with slower memory but with the same PCB as that of the FX 5900, though it has a different, cheaper design specially for such case. 

Cards

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB


Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB


Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB



 
AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM memory in 8 chips on top of PCB.

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB
Hynix 2.8ns memory chips (corresponds to 350 (700) MHz), memory works at the same speed, GPU at 400 MHz. 256bit memory bus.


Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB
Hynix 2.5ns memory chips (corresponds to 400 (800) MHz), memory clocked at 405 (810) MHz, GPU at 405 MHz. 256bit memory bus.


Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB
Hynix 2.8ns memory chips (corresponds to 350 (700) MHz), memory works at the same speed, GPU at 400 MHz. 256bit memory bus.



 
Comparison with the reference design, front view
Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra









Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB






Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForceFX 5600 Ultra










   
Comparison with the reference design, back view
Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra






Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB






Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForceFX 5600 Ultra







 

While the Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB and Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB are based on the reference PCB, the Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB has a unique PCB design. I compared the card to the GeForce FX 5600 Ultra since its PCB is closer to it, though it's still different. Why didn't they use this design for all GeForce FX 5900 cards? Probably, it's more convenient to have FX 5900 and 5900 Ultra based on the same PCB since the 5900 Ultra differs from the 5900 in the GPU and the way the memory modules are mounted on back.

The new PCB doesn't support installation of memory modules on back, that is why it doesn't suit for the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra. This PCB has a simpler layout because of the slower 2.8ns memory in contrast to the 2.2ns on the original 5900/5900 Ultra.

What's the use in the Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB? The solution is an intermediary between the original 5900 and the 5900CP. The traders say that the price difference between all three types of 128MB 5900 cards from Albatron is insignificant ($10-15). That is why the release of the new card looks really strange.

Let's have a look at the coolers.
 
 
 

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB
The cooler is made of a massive heatsink with a copper base and three fans the impellers of which are covered with paint shining in UV rays. 

The cooler has a LED in the center which is seen through a drop-like hole in the center of the sink cover.

The most interesting feature is a three-fan system, with two fans working simultaneously and the third being reserve (the right one on the picture). When the PC turns on the fan controller starts all of them but after taking the measurements from the first two fans it stops the third one. The controller (logic device) is located in the sink center on a small printed-circuit board.

The cooler is very quiet, and the sink's cover looks like a flying bird.










Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB
The good old cooler used for GeForce4 cards also suits such monster as the GeForce FX 5900. However, it hardly copes with the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra which runs at 450 MHz. The memory chips arranged in two lines are covered with the sinks.





Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB
Leadtek uses a very solid cooler! One of the guys who doesn't know much about video cards thought that it was a stereo radio receiver :) The cooler consists of three sinks, the front one (top jacket) has two fans: input (closer to the VGA slots) and output. The second sink has a copper core pressed to the GPU and two impellers for the memory chips. This sink is aired by the fans from the first sink. The third sink mounted behind is not of much use - it just completes the single sink design.












  

The Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB card is equipped with the Philips 7108 TV codec which supports Video-In. The card does support VIVO, though the TV-out is realized in the GeForce FX5900. However, the space provided on the Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB is meant for a different processor - Philips 7114.






Here are the processors:
 

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB; Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB





Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB




Ordinary FX 5900s.

I must say it wasn't easy to install the Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB on the DFI I875P board because the cooler was pressed against the capacitor.




It' possible to bend the capacitor, but that would be a wrong way. Leadtek which is so proud of careful designing of its coolers should take into account that there can be other types of mainboards which may not get on with such card.




All fans on the Albatron have impellers radiating in UV rays:




The Leadtek supports the hardware status monitoring, according to the TDH suffix. Actually it's supported in all GeForce FX 5900 based cards. The monitoring is realized through the WinFox II utility  - we talked about it in the previous reviews of Leadtek's products.

Accessory packs.
 

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB 
User guide, TV extension cords, VIVO adapter/splitter, software suite (drivers, utilities, VIVO software and two games).


Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB
User guide, software CD, several games, S-Video-to-RCA and DVI-to-d-Sub adapters, TV extension cord.


Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB
User guide, software CD, 2 games, S-Video-to-RCA and DVI-to-d-Sub adapters, TV extension cord, external power supply splitter.



 
Packages:

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB 
First FX 5900 cards from Albatron shipped in black bags. Now such cards are selling in boxes with handles which also look beautiful.

The boxes are identical for the whole GeForce FX 5900 series, and this model can be distinguished by a bufferfly.







Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB
The cheaper model has a box which is less sophisticated and not so colorful.


Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB
This is a traditional box with a mirror surface. The box is used for all FX 5900, and this model has the LX sticker as a distinguishing feature.



 

 

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 v52.16.

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: 

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz
Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB 1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz
Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB 1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x100Hz, 1024x768x120Hz

 

Test results: performance

Conventional signs: ANISO 8xP - Anisotropic 8x Performance (earlier it was called Balanced), ANISO 8xQ - Anisotropic 8x Quality, ANISO 16xQ - Anisotropic 16x Quality. 

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 
  • Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v.1.05 (Croteam/GodGames) - OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703 demo, test settings: quality, S3TC OFF 
  • Quake3 Arena v.1.17 (id Software/Activision) - OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703 demo, test settings - maximum: detailing level - High, texture detailing level - #4, S3TC OFF, smoothness of curves is much increased through variables r_subdivisions "1" and r_lodCurveError "30000" (at default r_lodCurveError is 250 !), the configurations can be downloaded from here 
  • Unreal Tournament 2003 v.2225 (Digital Extreme/Epic Games) - Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality 
  • Code Creatures Benchmark Pro (CodeCult) - the game that demonstrates card's operation in DirectX 8.1, Shaders, HW T&L. 
  • Unreal II: The Awakening (Legend Ent./Epic Games) - Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality 
  • RightMark 3D v.0.4 (one of the test scenes) - DirectX 8.1, Dot3, cube texturing, shadow buffers, vertex and pixel shaders (1.1, 1.4). 
     
  • Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness v.49 (Core Design/Eldos Software) - DirectX 9.0, three demo scenes, maximum quality, Depth of Fields PS20 off. The settings are equal for all the cards tested.







If you need patch 49 which is not easy to find and the demo benchmarks let me know by email. 
 

  • HALO: Combat Evolved (Microsoft) - Direct3D, Vertex/Pixel Shaders 1.1/2.0, Hardware T&L, high quality

  •  
  • Half-Life2 (Valve/Sierra) - DirectX 9.0, two different demo (ixbt07 and coast). Tested in anisotropic filtering mode and in the heavy mode with AA and anisotropy enabled.

  •  

     

    Attention! Since this is a leaked beta version, we won't take into account the cards' scores obtained in this test.

    Quake3 Arena

     













    Light modes without AA and anisotropy: all the cards easily beat the RADEON 9800.

    AA enabled: the advantage is growing up.

    Anisotropy enabled: the GeForce FX 5900LX/CP/EPV look perfect.

    AA & anisotropy enabled: the same.

    So:

    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB - wins
    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB; Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB - win

    Serious Sam: The Second Encounter

     













    Light modes without AA and anisotropy: the GeForce FX 5900LX/CP/EPV are just a little ahead.

    AA enabled: NVIDIA wins

    Anisotropy enabled: GeForce FX 5900LX/CP/EPV is still ahead though the gap is narrower.

    AA & anisotropy enabled: The GeForce FX 5900LX/CP/EPV wins again

    So:

    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB is a success
    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB; Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB are a success

    Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Multiplayer)

     













    Light modes without AA and anisotropy: GeForce FX 5900LX/CP/EPV are a little ahead

    AA enabled: in some modes the cards lose.

    Anisotropy enabled: GeForce FX 5900LX/CP/EPV lose

    AA & anisotropy enabled: the same.

    So:

    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB loses the battle
    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB; Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB lost.

    Code Creatures

     













    Light modes without AA and anisotropy: GeForce FX 5900LX/CP/EPV take the lead

    AA enabled: the advantage of the Leadtek/Albatron grows up

    Anisotropy enabled: the GeForce FX 5900LX/CP/EPV fall a bit behind their competitors

    AA & anisotropy enabled: the cards win in more cases.

    So:

    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB - it wins but not everywhere
    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB; Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB - the same

    Unreal Tournament 2003

     













    Light modes without AA and anisotropy: almost parity

    AA enabled: GeForce FX 5900LX/CP/EPV lose

    Anisotropy enabled: sometimes they win, sometimes they lose.

    AA & anisotropy enabled: defeat

    So:

    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB loses the competition
    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB; Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB - the same

    Unreal II: The Awakening

     













    All the cards tested lose in all modes.

    So:

    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB - defeat
    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB; Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB - defeat

    RightMark 3D

     

     













    Light modes without AA and anisotropy: the GeForce FX 5900LX/CP/EPV lose in most cases

    AA enabled: the same

    Anisotropy enabled: the GeForce FX 5900LX/CP/EPV do not shine at all

    AA & anisotropy enabled: the GeForce FX 5900LX/CP/EPV lose the battle again

    So:

    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB - defeat
    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB; Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB - defeat

    TR:AoD, Paris5_4 DEMO

     







    Shaders again. Although the price is lower at the same GPU clock, the R9800 which has lower clock speeds beats all three cards.

    So:

    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB - far behind the competitor
    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB; Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB - far behind as well

    TR:AoD, Paris1c DEMO

     

     







    There are less shaders, and the gap shrinks to 1/4 from 1/3. But it's still a defeat.

    So:

    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB loses the battle
    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB; Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB fall behind again

    TR:AoD, Paris2g DEMO

     







    This test use much fewer shaders, and the GeForce FX 5900LX/CP/EPV recover, though they are still inferior.

    So:

    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB - defeat
    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB; Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB - defeat

    HALO: Combat Evolved

     







    Light modes without AA and anisotropy: GeForce FX 5900LX/CP/EPV are insignificantly ahead

    Anisotropy enabled: here they lose the battle.

    So:

    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB - it generally loses the competition taking into account the defeat in the anisotropic mode
    • Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB; Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB - the same

    Half-Life2 (beta): ixbt07 demo

     







    I don't take into account these scores when estimating the overall performance, since this is a leaked version of the game. 

    RADEON 9800, driver 6.387 FX 5900, driver 52.16
    AA4x, ANISO 16xQ/8xQ







     
     

    Half-Life2 (beta): coast demo

     







    RADEON 9800, driver 6.387 FX 5900, driver 52.16
    AA4x, ANISO 16xQ/8xQ






    Conclusion

    We have tested three low-end cards of the FX 5900 series. The prices range from $280 (Leadtek) to $320 (Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB). The RADEON 9800 at that moment was priced at $280-290. 

    At the beginning of the review I assumed that the video cards cheaper than the FX 5900 have actually the same FX 5900 GPUs, and there was a chance that they could beat the RADEON 9800 which have lower core and memory clocks than the RADEON 9800 PRO. But our tests don't prove it:

    1. Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900EPV 128MB has a bit slower memory than the GeForce FX 5900. But the newer the benchmark, the worse the card performs compared to the RADEON 9800 clocked at 325 MHz against Albatron's 405 MHz. They should have cut prices more aggressively. In all other respects, the card has excellent quality and an interesting and quiet cooler. If the price is adequate to the card's features, it will get a chance to become popular.

    2.  
    3. Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5900CP 128MB is the slowest card among all FX 5900, but the chip clock is still 400 MHz. Nevertheless, it loses to the RADEON 9800 in most modern benchmarks. It's based on a simpler PCB, but it looks to be overpriced (over $300 for the end of October). The card can become popular only at the price lower than that of the RADEON 9800, accounting for its overclocking potential. The card is also of high quality and runs stably. But it's again the question of adequacy of the price and performance. Note that the cooler may not let you overclock the card at least up to the 5900 Ultra.

    4.  
    5. Leadtek A350LX TDH 128MB runs at the same speed as the previous one, but it has a more expensive PCB from the FX 5900. However, the price is $280-290 for the end of October, though it still loses to the RADEON 9800 (except some old benchmarks). The card's quality is perfect, but its cooler makes the card incompatible with some mainboards. Plus, they should lower the prices more to make it adequate to its performance. 

    6.  

       
       
       

    The companies did right reducing the prices for the "under"-GeForces, but the rate of price-cutting should be more intensive, as the RADEON 9800 is still ahead. Let's see what will happen in a month because as we know ATI trims prices reluctantly.

    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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