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Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5950 Ultra
ASUS V9980 Ultra
on NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra

& FarCry DEMO Benchmarking

February 27, 2004



 
 


CONTENTS

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

The arrival of the new products from ATI and NVIDIA is getting closer. Meanwhile, we keep on testing today's High-End video cards based on NVIDIA's processors. At the moment the sellers have moderated their appetite, and the prices started to fall down. If yesterday GeForce FX 5950 Ultra was available at over $550, today some cards of this level can be found at $420 at least. And they are not noname products.

GeForce FX 5950 is now fighting against ATI RADEON 9800 XT. The latter is available at approximately $480. Actually, both products have equal prices (or RADEON 9800 XT is a bit more expensive). You are well aware what advantages and disadvantages GeForce FX 5950 Ultra has as compared to RADEON 9800 XT. Does it match the price difference? It does. That is why in such conditions GeForce FX 5950 can be in the same demand as RADEON 9800 XT. Before we continue testing new High-End cards based on NVIDIA GPUs have a look at the reviews studying different aspects of GeForce FX.

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

If we just compare the demand within this market sector without accounting for the fact that the cards over $400 are hardly ever popular, we will see that GeForce FX 5950 Ultra has every chance to succeed like RADEON 9800 XT. It's also interesting to test the card in Far Cry especially considering that its developers are the members of The Way It's Meant To Be Played program.

Both products are produced by two well-known companies. Judging by our poll reports ASUSTeK is enjoying huge popularity on our market. Today we are actually dealing with the very V9950 Ultra though the card is equipped with faster memory and the NV38 chip.

It took only several years for Albatron to take a large niche on our market, especially in the video card sector. There're almost no complaints about quality, the company produces a wide range of cards (including multiple Turbo variations) with interesting peculiarities and excellent boxes; all that created a perfect authority for the company.

And today we have a copy of the previous version of GeForce FX 5900 Ultra, though the memory and chip are different. Although I saw FX 5900 Ultra in Albatron's booklets, its partners say that Albatron refused to produce such solution in favor of its Turbo version with 256MB memory.

Cards

 

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5950 Ultra


ASUS V9980 Ultra



 
AGP x8/x4/x2, 256 MB DDR SDRAM in 16 chips on both sides of PCB.
ASUS V9980 Ultra
Hynix 2ns memory chips; it corresponds to 500 (1000) MHz but the memory runs at 475 (950) MHz. The GPU is clocked at 475 MHz. 256 bit memory bus.


Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5950 Ultra
The same.



 
Comparison with the reference design, front view
Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5950 Ultra Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra






ASUS V9980 Ultra




 
Comparison with the reference design, back view
Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5950 Ultra Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra






ASUS V9980 Ultra




 

Both cards are based on the reference design (there might be some slight differences, especially in the power supply unit, but they point to different revisions of the reference PCB).

The coolers have nothing new for us. 
 
  

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5950 Ultra
The cooler consists of a massive heatsink with a cooper base and two fans the impellers of which shine in UV rays. 

The cooler has a LED in the center which can be seen through a drop-like opening in the sink's center.

The most notable feature of the cooler is a three-fan system, with two fans working simultaneously and the third one being spare. The fan controller starts all three fans when the PC is turned on and stops the third one (right one) after taking measurements of two first fans. The fan controller is located in the heatsink's center on a small printed-circuit board.

The cooler is pretty quiet. Besides, the cooler itself reminds a flying bird. 




ASUS V9980 Ultra
This cooler is made of a massive rectangular heatsink with copper base and fins and two fans the impellers of which shine in UV rays.

This cooler proved to be very efficient in spite of the single heatsink used for the memory and GPU. It's quite possible that the copper base and its matching the height of the core and memory chips play an important role.







Both cards are equipped with the external Philips 7108 TV codec and, therefore, support VIVO.

The box contents.
 

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 
User Guide, software CD, PowerDVD, game, VIVO software, TV extension cords, DVI-to-d-Sub adapter, VIVO splitter.


ASUS V9980 Ultra
User Guide, software CDs (the description is on the right), DVI-to-d-Sub, VIVO adapters, TV extension cords.





Here are the boxes:
 

Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 
The box made of thick cardboard looks traditionally for this company. It has a bright decoration with a holographic coating and also has a handle.





ASUS V9980 Ultra
This is a traditional box made of white cardboard with a glossy cover. I'm glad that ASUS do not picture monsters anymore but uses normal human faces from the same 3D graphics games.



 
 

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 driver 56.55.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 5950 Ultra  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x160Hz
ASUS V9980 Ultra 1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x160Hz
 

Test results: performance

Test application:

  • Far Cry DEMO (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, the demos are available here (the game starts with -DEVMODE option), tests settings are all Very High (except textures as the DEMO doesn't allow above Medium here).

Unfortunately, the AA and anisotropy modes don't work correctly in this DEMO, and they were disabled. We are waiting for a patch for the DEMO or the release of the game itself.

Far Cry DEMO

First of all look at the game and its rendering quality.
 

GeForce FX 5950 Ultra RADEON 9800 XT
Far Cry, example 1, No ANIS, No AA






Far Cry, example 2, No ANIS, No AA






Far Cry, example 3, No ANIS, No AA






Far Cry, example 4, No ANIS, No AA






Far Cry, example 5, No ANIS, No AA






Far Cry, example 6, No ANIS, No AA







 

Well, it's the first game where the power of DirectX 9.0 is fully realized, and 3D graphics looks the most realistically. That is why it's very interesting to test the speed as well. 






Once again we can see that the more the shaders 2.0 are used, the weaker the GeForce FX is. The NV38 flagship loses to R360, though the gap is not that wide. The game has a lot of other elements where NVIDIA based cards can reveal all their power, in particular, in complex texture processes (the more the textures and the more complicated the texturing is, the better the chance of GeForce FX). That is why in spite of the problem with shaders, the results are not that bad as in TR:AoD.

However, it's for users to choose: does such lag corresponds to the price difference between GeForce FX 5950 Ultra and RADEON 9800 XT?

As to anti-aliasing and anisotropy, it's clear that at the current FPS level and Very High settings some scenes might not run smoothly in these modes. 

Conclusion

  1. Albatron Gigi GeForce FX 5950 Ultra is a high-quality product with a good cooler based on copper heatsinks, an attractive design and VIVO support. When overclocked, the card works steadily at 540/1080 MHz, which is a very good score. If the price is lower than that of RADEON 9800 XT, the card will get every chance to succeed!

  2.  
  3. ASUS V9980 Ultra is also a very high-quality product with a good cooler. One of its disadvantages is the usage of inductance coils which might clink and crackle in the 3D mode. The card supports VIVO, and because of some bugs in the latest ForceWare concerning the increase in clock speeds the fact that the clock speeds are not separated for 2D and 3D graphics overclockers can significantly lift the performance. As a result, the card works steadily at 545/1050 MHz. I can't say anything about the prices but you know that ASUS's products are very expensive but nevertheless they are always much in demand.

  4.  

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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