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Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 64bit
Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 256MB 128bit
Chaintech GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB
Chaintech GeForce FX 5900 128MB
Chaintech GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB
Video Cards Review

December 11, 2003








CONTENTS

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


Today we are going to have a look at a new Chaintech line. You might remember the 6BTM mainboard which made Chaintech so popular as it was one of the fastest and most reliable i440BX based boards. After that the company raised and failed, but it did its best to increase the volume of production of video cards and expand the range of products. Today Chaintech is NVIDIA's certified partner and it makes cards based on NVIDIA's processors only.

Chaintech has taken advantage of all NVIDIA's latest products and released a series of cards based on the latest GeForce FX GPUs. You can get more information on what the GeForce FX is able of in our previous reviews.

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

So, let's start with the FX5600XT. Earlier the middle-level sector (over $100) of the FX line had only FX5600 and FX5600 Ultra GPUs (we do not take into account different variations of third companies). Below the $100 mark there was only the FX5200. Now we've got the low-end 5600XT which is to press the FX5200 downward the price ladder and keep the FX5600 hovering around the $100 mark. The 64bit version of the FX5600XT is going to take a niche under the FX5200 to maintain the price of the FX5200 and make the 64-bit FX5200 even cheaper. It's quite possible that the FX5200 will be simply replaced with the FX5600XT.

The FX5600 will be replaced with the FX5700. The FX5600 Ultra is expected to disappear as well. These cards have a high cost price that doesn't justify their capabilities. The more efficient FX 5700 Ultra must have approximately the same price.

The FX5900XT is a step above (it's represented with the FX5900SE which is not announced yet and which is called LX or CP), then go FX5900 and FX5950 Ultra. The FX5900 Ultra is being pressed out of the market by its more efficient sibling.

The current line of the products which are to take their places soon misses just the FX5700 and FX5900XT.

Cards

 

Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 64bit


Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 256MB 128bit


Chaintech GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB


Chaintech GeForce FX 5900 128MB; Chaintech GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB



 
Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 256MB 128bit
The card has AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 256 MB DDR SDRAM memory in 8 chips on both PCB sides.

Samsung 4ns memory chips (corresponds to 250 (500) MHz), memory clocked at 200 (400) MHz, GPU at 235 MHz. 128 bit memory bus.

Overclocking potential: 300/250 (500) MHz.




Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 64bit
The card has AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM memory in 4 chips on both PCB sides.

Hynix 4ns memory chips (corresponds to 250 (500) MHz), memory clocked at 200 (400) MHz, GPU at 235 MHz. 64 bit memory bus. Overclocking potential: 308/260 (520) MHz.




Chaintech 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.

Samsung 2.2ns memory chips (corresponds to 453 (906) MHz), memory clocked at 453 (906) MHz MHz, GPU at 475 MHz. 128 bit memory bus. Overclocking potential: 
550/535 (1070) MHz.




Chaintech GeForce FX 5900 128MB
The card has AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM memory in 8 chips on top of PCB.

Hynix 2.2ns memory chips (corresponds to 453 (906) MHz), memory clocked at 425 (850) MHz, GPU at 400 MHz. 256 bit memory bus. Overclocking potential: 
470/480 (960) MHz.




Chaintech GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB
The card has AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 256 MB DDR SDRAM memory in 16 chips on both PCB.

Hynix 2ns memory chips (corresponds to 500 (1000) MHz), memory clocked at 475 (950) MHz, GPU at 475 MHz. 256 bit memory bus. Overclocking potential: no.

 





 
Comparison with the reference design, front view
Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 64bit Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600






Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 256MB 128bit






Chaintech GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra









Chaintech GeForce FX 5900 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForceFX 5900 Ultra






Chaintech GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForceFX 5950 Ultra










 
Comparison with the reference design, back view
Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 64bit Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600






Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 256MB 128bit



Chaintech GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForceFX 5700 Ultra









Chaintech GeForce FX 5900 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForceFX 5900 Ultra






Chaintech GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForceFX 5950 Ultra









The FX5600XT is based on the FX5600 (the PCB design is just slightly simplified), the FX5700 Ultra/5900/5950 Ultra cards have the reference design. All Chaintech cards are painted sky-blue.

Now let's have a look at the coolers (apart from the coolers on the FX5600XT, there's a usual round sink with a fan in the center on top of the GPU). 
 
 
 

Chaintech GeForce FX 5900 128MB; Chaintech GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB
The cooler consists of a massive sink with a copper base equipped with two fans the impellers of which shine in UV rays. 

In spite of the effective cooler the GPU got too hot, - the cooler didn't perform that good.













Chaintech GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB
The principle of operation is the same (copper base, fan with impellers shining in UV rays), only the shape is different, and there's just one fan.














The Chaintech GeForce FX 5900 128MB and Chaintech GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB are equipped with the external Philips 7114E TV codecs which supports Video-In. The cards do support the VIVO. However, the TV-out is realized in the GeForce FX5900/5950.




Now come the processors:
 

Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 256MB 128bit; Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 64bit





Chaintech GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB







Chaintech GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB




The coolers on the FX5700U/5900/5950U do not lock the first PCI slot but a card inserted there wouldn't allow for proper cooling of the GPU.






The boxes contain the following stuff (the FX5900 based card came in the OEM package).
 

Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 256MB 128bit; Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 64bit
User Guide, TV extenders, software suite (drivers, utilities, WinCinema).


Chaintech GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB
User Guide, software CD, WinCinema, game, S-Video-to-RCA adapter, TV extender, external power supply splitter, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter.





Chaintech GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB
User Guide, software CD, WinCinema, game, CD with demo games, VIVO adapter, TV extender, external power supply splitter, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter.






 

Here are the boxes:
 

Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 256MB 128bit; Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 64bit
Such cards will hardly have such luxurious packages in future, retailers do not favor them as they increase the transportation costs, that is why sub$100 cards are a rarity for our market.

The boxes of both cards are identical. On the box you can see both memory size and the memory bus bit capacity.










Chaintech GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB
The design is similar: it differs only in colors and has a different figure.


Chaintech GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB
Just the same.



 

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 9.0b;
    • ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors.
    • NVIDIA drivers v52.70.

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: 

Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 64bit  1600x1200x75Hz, 1280x1024x100Hz, 1024x768x100Hz
Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 256MB 128bit 1600x1200x75Hz, 1280x1024x100Hz, 1024x768x100Hz
Chaintech GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB 1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x100Hz, 1024x768x120Hz
Chaintech GeForce FX 5900 128MB 1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz
Chaintech GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB 1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz
 

Test results: performance

The November 3Digest the data from which are given below didn't include the FX5600XT 64bit, you can check its scores in the sub-$100 video cards 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 

Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v.1.05 (Croteam/GodGames) - OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt0703 demo, test settings: quality, S3TC OFF 

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 gaming scenes) - DirectX 8.1, Dot3, cube texturing, shadow buffers, vertex and pixel shaders (1.1, 1.4). 

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
 

If you need the demo benchmarks please email me. 

Performance

Conclusion

  1. Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 128MB 64bit is the weakest solution among the new products, and it performs similarly to the FX5200 128bit, sometimes even slower. It's clear that a buyer's decision will depend on the price. The Chaintech's product itself delivers good build quality and reliability.

  2.  
  3. Chaintech GeForce FX 5600XT 256MB 128bit is the weakest solution among 128-bit FX5600s. Such card doesn't need such a great memory size, - it's just a marketing trick (even 128MB is unnecessary). This is also a DirectX 9.0 solution for $100 cards. But the current prices are still too high (as it always happens with new-comers). This card looks good as compared to its competitor ATI RADEON 9600SE. Besides, it has good quality and reliability as well.

  4.  
  5. Chaintech GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB is the upper middle-end solution. As I already mentioned, the lower FX5900 GPU affects the pricing of the upper middle-end sector, and it's hard to say whether the FX5700 Ultra is going to succeed and when (they could definitely be a success if the prices fall down to $180). You wouldn't buy a FX 5700 Ultra card if its price is equal to that of a FX5900 SE card, would you?.. The latter looks better, especially for overclockers.

  6.  
  7. Chaintech GeForce FX 5900 128MB takes the middle position in the FX5900 line. It's able to compete against the RADEON 9800 but it's still dearer. I'd recommend it to everyone who doesn't favor ATI and who believe that NVIDIA is better, especially reviewers from Upgrade. :-) (I'm not in religious wars! :-) ).

  8.  
  9. Chaintech GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB is NVIDIA's current High-End. It yields to ATI's competitor in shader applications, while in games it goes on a par or even faster. I wish this particular card had better cooling as it gets pretty hot.

  10.  

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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