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Leadtek WinFast A380 Ultra MyVIVO 256MB
ASUS V9950SE 128MB
on NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra/5900SE

December 4, 2003








CONTENTS

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

Today we are going to test two products of the FX5900 family - top GeForce FX 5950 Ultra and low-end FX 5900 SE (or LX/CP). The 5950 GPU belongs to the FX 5900 family as this is just an overclocked version of the FX 5900 Ultra. 

Both 5950 Ultra and 5900 SE were already reviewed before (see the list of reviews of the previous cards).

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

The low-end FX 5900 can be called differently. For example, Albatron calls it 5900CP, Leadtek - 5900LX. ASUSTeK calls it 5900SE, which is the closer to crippled cards. In this case SE means that the card features slower memory and simpler PCB.

The FX 5900XT which is to arrive soon will have the clock speed lower by 10 MHz compared to the SE, i.e. 390/350 (700) MHz.

But there are not such cards yet, the market is currently filled up with the FX 5900 clocked at 400/350 (700) MHz. I must say that prices for such cards have dropped considerably, and the Leadtek FX 5900LX is available at US$260 (for the end of November). It's well cheaper than the RADEON 9800, that is why the low-end FX 5900 are getting more and more popular (such cards were carped in our first reviews as they lost to ATI's solution, with the prices were equal). 

GeForce FX 5950 Ultra based cards have just started arriving to the retail market, and the prices are still too high. Note that the top RADEON 9800 XT costs some US$500. Taking into account its better performance, the FX 5950 Ultra can be a success only at the lower price compared to the RADEON 9800 XT. Also note that cards dearer than $400 are of interest for less than 1% of consumers.

So, we have two cards to test: the upper-level and lower-level products of the FX 59xx line. 

Cards

Leadtek WinFast A380 Ultra MyVIVO 256MB


ASUS V9950SE 128MB



 
ASUS V9950SE 128MB
The card has AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM memory in 8 chips on top of PCB.

Samsung 2.8ns memory chips (corresponds to 350 (700) MHz), memory clocked at 350 (700) MHz, GPU at 400 MHz. 256 bit memory bus.




Leadtek WinFast A380 Ultra MyVIVO 256MB
The card has AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 256 MB DDR SDRAM memory in 16 chips on both PCB sides.

Hynix 2ns memory chips (corresponds to 500 (1000) MHz), memory clocked at 475 (950) MHz, GPU at 475 MHz. 256 bit memory bus.
 





 
Comparison with the reference design, front view
Leadtek WinFast A380 Ultra MyVIVO 256MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra






ASUS V9950SE 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForceFX 5900







 
Comparison with the reference design, back view
Leadtek WinFast A380 Ultra MyVIVO 256MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra






ASUS V9950SE 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForceFX 5900







 

The Leadtek card is based on the reference design. The PCB from ASUS looks like that of the Albatron's card.

Such PCB doesn't allow mounting memory chips behind, that is why it doesn't suit for the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra. Probably, the PCB layout is less complicated because of the slower 2.8ns memory in contrast to 2.2ns on the original 5900/5900 Ultra.

The ASUS V9950SE has a standard cooler only for the GPU. The memory chips are covered with two rows of sinks positioned at the angle of 90 degrees. 
 
 

Leadtek WinFast A380 Ultra MyVIVO 256MB
The cooler consists of two parts: a massive copper sink fr the GPU and memory chips on top, and a big aluminium sink for the memory chips on back.

The sinks are separated though it looks as if they are bridged. That crosspiece is simply a decoration.

Inside the copper sink is a powerful fan under a protection grill that blows air through the side fins. The speed of rotation is not that high to make the cooler noisy, but I can't call it quiet either.











The Leadtek WinFast A380 Ultra MyVIVO 256MB is equipped with an external Philips 7114E TV codec which supports Video-In. The card does support VIVO though the TV-out is realized in the GeForce FX5950. The ASUS V9950SE 128MB has space provided for the Philips 7114H.




Here's how this powerful card looks when inserted into the mainboard:




The heatsink is pretty wide and the first PCI slot is actually locked (you can use it only for a low-profile card with a very smooth backside).




Let's see what the boxes contain.

Leadtek WinFast A380 Ultra MyVIVO 256MB 
As usual, Leadtek provides a lot of various stuff: apart from software shown on the photo there's a user guide, TV extenders, VIVO adapter/splitter, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter.





ASUS V9950SE 128MB
ASUSTeK also bundles a rich accessory pack with the card - beside the software suite shown on the photo there's a user guide, S-Video-to-RCA and DVI-to-d-Sub adapters and TV extension cord.






 
Here are the packages:
Leadtek WinFast A380 Ultra MyVIVO 256MB 
The company redesigned the packages for the new series of October 23. Instead of geometrical figures and monsters the boxes picture more pleasant fairy-tale heroes.


ASUS V9950SE 128MB
This is a traditional box with a glossy cover with something that represents modern technologies.



 

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 v52.70.

VSync off, S3TC off in applications. 

The latest version of the WinFox underwent some changes. This utility delivers a new GPU interface; there are an overclocker, various information panels, hardware monitoring on a nice panel, and many other stuff...




























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:

Leadtek WinFast A380 Ultra MyVIVO 256MB  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz
ASUS V9950SE 128MB 1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x120Hz

Test results: 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 

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. Leadtek WinFast A380 Ultra MyVIVO 256MB is a high-quality product with an excellent accessory pack. The developers do not pack cards into jackets anymore, and the cooler now looks very effective and not that bulky. However, the first PCI slot can hardly be used. It's for you decide whether to buy such an expensive card or not - if it's cheaper than the RADEON 9800 XT, the choice isn't going to be difficult. But taking into account that the 9800 XT is already selling while it's still a problem to find the FX 5950 Ultra (early in December), the first 5950 Ultra cards will be even dearer than the 9800 XT (it's stupid to take a dearer card weaker in modern applications ). 

  2.  
  3. ASUS V9950SE 128MB follows the Albatron GeForce FX 5900CP, i.e. it will drop in the niche between the FX 5700 Ultra and FX 5900. But the card can stand against the RADEON 9800 of approximately the same cost only if the vendors keep down their appetite. The current downclocked FX 5900 SE perform worse, that is why it's only the price that can help them. The similar card from Leadtek has a very attractive price, while the ASUS V9950SE 128MB does not. It can attract users only because of its excellent quality and accessory pack. 

  4.  

I really like the Leadtek card: it looks nice and has a pack of various services and settings. Price? Well, the statistics shows that very few can afford a card at $500. The ASUS can be a success right now if it had the price not $300 but $250-260 (for the beginning of December 2003). But if the RADEON 9800 will disappear from the shelves, the market will have only the expensive 9800 PRO and slow but dear RADEON 9800 SE; in this case the GeForce FX 5900SE will have no problems in conquering the market.

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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