iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






CHAINTECH FX5700 Ultra Apogee AA5700U
on NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700/5700Ultra


  1. Video cards' features
  2. Testbed, test tools, 2D quality
  3. Test results: performance comparison
  4. Conclusion

We keep on testing new-comers from the Middle-End sector of 3D Accelerators. Yet a while ago the competition on this market was pretty transparent, and positions of all cards were clear, but today it often becomes a problem to determine a market niche of one or another card.

Yet in 2001 the layout was clear: NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 200/500, GeForce2 Ti; ATI RADEON 8500/8500LE, RADEON 7500. Today we have it different. In Spring 2003 the company released a harmonious family that consisted of GeForce FX 5200, 5200 Ultra, 5600, 5600 Ultra. The price sectors were $70, 100, 150, 200. But after a while they added a new version of GeForce FX 5600 Ultra (400 MHz), 5600 XT, 5700, 5700 Ultra which were also meant for the sub$200 market. Isn't it much for such a short period of time? It seems that NVIDIA does everything to attract users' attention because the GeForce FX didn't prove itself as compared to the previous GeForce4, except the FX 5200 that brought DirectX 9.0 technologies into the Low-End sector. Well, the optimized anisotropy provides a higher speed on the FX 5600 (with its 4 texture units) compared to the GeForce4 Ti (with its 8 texture units). At the same time the DX9 support is still a fiction (even for the beginning of 2004!). The games that require full hardware support of DX9 are only appearing on the market. Besides, the shader speed in DX9 is still a big problem for GeForce FX. However, we discussed it a lot of times in our reviews:

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

The new line will be based on GeForce FX 5700, 5700, and 5700 Ultra. The first one is identical to FX 5700 but has a bit lower clock speeds. Why did they replace FX 5600 with 5700? There are probably two reasons: a low cost of FX 5700 GPUs produced at IBM's factories and their higher performance due to the more powerful vertex shader unit. Besides, the the CPU clock is also increased by 100 MHz.

The new strategy is also lame... Who will need FX 5700 Ultra based cards taking into account the prices for FX 5900XT? When will the stocks of 5900 based cards run out to give way to 5700 Ultra? - It's still unknown!

New cards keep on coming onto the market and we must test them in order to estimate whether all the tinsel that the companies use to attract users is worth such price or not.

CHAINTECH is an old dweller on the video card market, and you can find a wide range of its products based on NVIDIA's GPUs.

Today we will test two more cards.



CHAINTECH FX5700 Ultra Apogee AA5700U


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

Samsung 3.6ns memory chips; it corresponds to 275 (550) MHz which is also the default memory clock. The GPU is clocked at 425 MHz. 128 bit memory bus.

CHAINTECH FX5700 Ultra Apogee AA5700U
AGP x8/x4/x2, 128 MB DDR-II SDRAM in 8 chips on both sides of PCB.

Samsung 2.2ns memory chips; it corresponds to 450 (900) MHz, but memory runs at 453 (906) MHz. The GPU is clocked at 475 MHz. 128 bit memory bus.

Comparison with the reference design, front view
CHAINTECH FX5700 Ultra Apogee AA5700U Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra

CHAINTECH FX5700 SA5700 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700

Comparison with the reference design, back view
CHAINTECH FX5700 Ultra Apogee AA5700U Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra

CHAINTECH FX5700 SA5700 128MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700

Both cards are based on the reference design though the FX 5700 may have its own design.

CHAINTECH FX5700 Ultra Apogee AA5700U
The cooler consists of a massive heatsink with two fans. The sink bottom is copper. On the back is a simple heatsink that cools the memory chips. A distinguishing feature of the Apogee revision is a proprietary plate on this heatsink.

Another peculiarity is the backlight of the fans. It's becoming a trend these days - soon all card will have it as an ordinary feature. The cooler is pretty noisy though it doesn't irritate much.

CHAINTECH FX 5700 SA5700 128MB
This is an ordinary cooler with an aluminum roundish heatsink and a fan in the center. It's not that noisy.

Look once again at the the beauty of CHAINTECH FX5700 Ultra Apogee AA5700U graphics card.

The cards have no TV codecs, and their TV-out is realized through the GPUs.

The box contents.

CHAINTECH FX5700 Ultra Apogee AA5700U 
The first merit of the Apogee series is the card itself which has a different decoration. Look at the pics on the right! The box also contains up-to-date software, games, all adapters needed, and a pleasant souvenir - a sponge for displays.

User manual, software CDs (the description is on the right), DVI-to-d-Sub and Svideo-to-RCA adapters and TV extenders.


Here are the boxes:

CHAINTECH FX5700 Ultra Apogee AA5700U 
This box does match the Apogee series thanks to its bright and stylish decoration.

This is a traditional box made of thick cardboard. I think that such a big size is not needed for such card.


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 driver 53.03.

  • Athlon 64 3400+ based PC:
    • AMD Athlon 64 3400+ (2200 MHz = 220 MHz*10);
    • MSI K8T (VIA KT8); 
    • 1024 MB DDR400 SDRAM; 
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 SATA 80GB; 
    • Windows XP SP1; DirectX 9.0b;
    • ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21").
    • NVIDIA driver 53.03.

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: 

CHAINTECH FX5700 Ultra Apogee AA5700U  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x160Hz
CHAINTECH FX5700 SA5700 128MB 1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x100Hz, 1024x768x100Hz

Test results: performance

Test applications:

  • Unreal 2: The Awakening (Infogrames), DirectX 8.1, multitexturing, tested with Bench'emAll! 2.5beta
  • 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.
  • Half-Life2 (Valve/Sierra) - DirectX 9.0, two different demos (ixbt07 and coast). Tested with anisotropic filtering enabled.
  • Note! Since this is the leaked beta version, the test results can be just of conditional interest.
  • 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. AA doesn't work in this game. 
  • Call of Duty (MultiPlayer) (Infinity Ward/Activision) - OpenGL, multitexturing, ixbt1203demo, test settings - maximum, S3TC ON 
  • Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness v.49 (Core Design/Eldos Software) - DirectX 9.0, Paris5_4 demo, test settings are shown here


If you need the demo benchmarks please email me. 



  1. CHAINTECH FX5700 Ultra Apogee AA5700U is an upper Middle-End card. The card is meant to attract users. But remember that while the market is overfilled with cheap FX 5900XT cards which are stronger than FX 5700 Ultra the latter hardly has a chance to succeed. Its situation may improve after the 5900XT leaves the market. The card itself is of high quality. However, I wish it supported VIVO as well. Also remember that ATI is going to cut prices for RADEON 9800, and if it happens FX 5700 Ultra based cards will have no advantages at ll (even FX 5900XT will be beaten).

  3. CHAINTECH FX5700 SA5700 128MB is an ordinary card. It's going to replace FX 5600 as it has a high performance and almost the same price. The build quality is perfect, as well as its stability. At the moment it runs slower than RADEON 9600 PRO, but the outcome depends on the price.


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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