iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB Video Card Review

December 3, 2003


  1. Video cards features
  2. Testbed, test tools, 2D quality
  3. Summary diagrams
  4. Conclusion

Together with the release of the most powerful GPU GeForce FX 5950 Ultra NVIDIA announced the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra targeted at the upper middle-end sector. This product is to replace the GeForce FX 5600 Ultra, the recommended price for traders is US$200. 

The reviews of these cards can be found in the list of reviews of the NV3x line. 

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

This card generally looks better than its official competitor RADEON 9600 XT. Even faster shaders of the RADEON 9600 XT don't help it win the battle taking into account that the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra is going to thrive on the Midde-End market for only half a year and then it will be replaced with a GPU of the NV4x family. Besides, there are still few games that intensively use shaders. 

But it's all about positioning, i.e. about niches invented by marketers. The reality is that new-comers are usually overpriced. Thus, the 5700 ULtra is available not at $200 but at $240 or even $250. We could have ignored it as we can do nothing about traders and because the RADEON 9600 XT is also pretty dear, but there's one serious fact. 

The slowest GeForce FX 5900 has already dropped to the retail level of US$260-270 (for the end of November 2003). That is why even at 400/700 MHz the FX 5900 (SE/LX/CP - this chip doesn't have its own name, vendors call it differently) will look stronger than the FX 5700 Ultra at its 475/900 MHz. The prices are almost the same. According to pricewatch the FX 5700 Ultra and FX 5900(SE/LX/CP) have even the same average price of $210.

What to do? When we tested the FX 5900(SE/LX/CP) cards we pointed out that at the price equal to that of the RADEON 9800 they were going to lose. At the moment the prices are lower and the FX 5900(SE/LX/CP) looks more attractive. It affects the FX 5700 Ultra to a greater degree. It's a pure pricing mistake. Either the prices for the FX 5900(SE/LX/CP) were cut hastily, or the starting price for the 5700 Ultra was set too high. Besides, the card itself is too expensive: DDR-II, plus 10-layer PCB... 

Will such cards be a success? I really don't know now. Observers of the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra who carefully analyze the market situation will be confused as well. According to Price.ru the market offers only MSI's card on the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra (for the end of November) priced at $US250. At the same time there's the Leadtek GeForce FX 5900LX available at the same price. 

I hope the FX 5700 Ultra will get more favorable conditions soon, the prices will drop down to $200.

And today we are going to test a card from Albatron which, as usual, has its own peculiarities.


Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB

The card has AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 128 MB DDR-II SDRAM memory in 8 chips on both PCB sides. 

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB
Samsung (GDDR2) 2.2ns memory chips (corresponds to 450 (900) MHz), memory clocked at 450 (900) MHz, GPU at 475 MHz. 128 bit memory bus.

Comparison with the reference design, front view
Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra

Comparison with the reference design, back view
Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra


This is a copy of the reference design, though the PCB is painted sky-blue, the color typical of Albatron.

Here's the cooler:

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB
The Wise Fan II technology includes two working fans on the sink, with one being spare which turns on when one of the other two stops. Under the sink is a special printed-circuit board with chips. It also houses a decorative bright blue LED which emits light through a drop-like hole. 

The second version of this cooler has a different shape and different positions of fans. Also, the third fan can turn on when the chip overheats (the cooler has its own sensor independent from the processor's one). 

The cooler looks attractive. The fans' blades shine in ultraviolet rays.

On the back are only two simple sinks on each pair of the memory chips, that is why memory overclocking would definitely need additional cooling.

The card doesn't have an external TV codec, though the TV-out is realized through the NV36. 

Although the cooler doesn't take the first PCI slot the heatsink stands only 3-4 mm away from its center, that is why you can insert only a card with an absolutely smooth backside. But you'd better not use this slot at all otherwise the cooling would be worse. 

Here's the GPU:

Now comes the accessory pack.

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB
CD with software, DVD player, Duke Nuken, 5 demo versions; user guide, S-Video-to-RCA adapter, TV-out extenders.

Have a look at the package:

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB
The box with a holographic layer looks really amazing. The words are embossed, and on top is Dusk - a hero of NVIDIA's latest demo programs.


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 9.0b;
    • ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors.
    • NVIDIA drivers v52.16.

VSync off, S3TC off in applications. 

Cards used for comparison:


Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB 475/900 -> 550/1020 MHz (in spite of the powerful cooler the gain is moderate relative to the reference card)
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: 

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x100Hz, 1024x768x120Hz


Test results: cards performance

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 '~' and type in the console the following: 

    timedemo 1 (press Enter)
    demo ixbt0703demo (press Enter)

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

  • Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v.1.05 (Croteam/GodGames) - OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703 demo, test settings: quality.



    Test order: press '~' and type in the console the following: 

    dem_bProfile=1 (press Enter)
    run ixbt0703demo 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 test required in the menu or run the tests (in Official Benchmark submenu) starting from 1600x1200 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 game scenes) - DirectX 8.1, Dot3, cube texturing, shadow buffers, vertex and pixel shaders (1.1, 1.4). Settings: pixel shaders 1.1, shadow buffers OFF.

  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell v.1.2b (UbiSoft) - Direct3D, Vertex/Pixel Shaders 1.1/2.0, Hardware T&L, Very High quality; demo 1_1_2_Tbilisi




Although the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra beats the RADEON 9600 XT in the games without or with few shaders, it loses in all benchmarks to the low-end card of the 5900 family - FX 5900 LX which is nearing US$250. That is why the 5700 Ultra can be a success only if its price doesn't go over $200-210. 

The card itself is perfect, like all other Albatron's solutions! It has excellent build quality, a good cooler (which is not that noisy), and a nice package. 

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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