iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail

Platform

Video

Multimedia

Mobile

Other

NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra Based Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra MyVIVO Video Card Review

May 2, 2003







Finally, this one is noiseless... 

CONTENTS

  1. General information
  2. Video card's features
  3. Testbed configuration
  4. Test results
  5. Conclusion 

We keep on reviewing High-End graphics cards which are arriving in the market. Unfortunately, we haven't got the RADEON 9800 PRO yet, that is why let's focus on a tiny brook of the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra based cards. They are quite difficult to find yet, and the prices are hiked. Yet before the tests I can assert that such products are not worth their expenses. Our tests show that the RADEON 9800 PRO is currently the fastest 3D game accelerator. Even today, even the card's just been launched and its price is incredibly high, it's still cheaper than the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra in most cases. 

However, we shouldn't ignore this poor solution codenamed NV30 just because it became a rarity right after its release. Therefore, it costs even more than a High-End accelerator. Performance of such unique products is estimated in the following reviews. 

The GeForce FX 5800 Ultra, however, has some advantages: first of all, its rarity (only 100,000 chips were made, 50,000 of which were used for Quadro FX for 3D professionals, 30,000 for GeForce FX 5800 for OEM companies and only 20,000 chips for retail cards, - if you divide this figure by the number of partners who had a desire to bring out 5800 based cards, the figure will be very low). 

Secondly, the speed the latest accelerators can reach is enough for most games even in the heaviest modes of AA and anisotropy. That is why RADEON 9700 PRO, GeForce FX 5800 Ultra, RADEON 9800 PRO are approximately equal, - the difference can be noticed only in the benchmarks and FPS counters. 120 or 140 fps.. it won't matter for you (I don't mean quakers who play mostly in 640x480 with the minimal graphics settings where a CPU is more important than a video card). If you enable AA and anisotropy, the gap will be even smaller. Hence the question: what else is this card able of, except 3D, how stable is its operation on different platforms and in different games, and what else can I get from the card which is as expensive as a good audio system? 

Besides, the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra will quickly be sold out with the advent of NV35, and the hiked prices for the 5800 will crash down. Such cards will be bought up by users who believe that NVIDIA's products are the best and most stable in the whole world, especially because they are few. 

But despite multiple downsides of the GF FX, these cards are still interesting for many PC users dealing with 3D graphics. Their strong and weak points are passionately discussed in many forums. That is why we keep on examining the GF FX 5800 Ultra to keep track on changes with the newer drivers. No secret that this chip is very flexible, and much depends on the software. It's also interesting whether the imperfect AA quality or its lack is done away with in certain games with the AA forced. 

The card we have today in our lab is particularly unique. Leadtek's card has a special cooling system. Leadtek is a well-known company, and we are moving right to the card in question. 

Card

Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra MyVIVO 







 
 
 
Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra MyVIVO 
The card has AGP X2/4/8 interface, 128 MB DDR II SDRAM in 8 chips on both PCB sides. 128bit memory interface. 

Samsung K4N26323AE-GC1K, memory chips of BGA form-factor. Maximum clock speed is 550 (1100) MHz, hence 1.8 ns access time. The memory works at 500 (1000) MHz in 3D and at 300 (600) MHz in 2D.





 
 
 
Comparison with the reference design, front view
Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra MyVIVO  Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra 










 
 
 
Comparison with the reference design, back view
Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra MyVIVO  Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra 










 
 
 

It's clear that the card follows the reference design in every aspect (all PCBs for GF FX 5800 are made by third companies to NVIDIA's order). The most curious thing here is the cooler. 

Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra MyVIVO 
The basic cooling element is a copper heatsink which rigidly seats on the core and half of the memory chips of the card's front side. This heatsink is cooled with fans attached to the outer aluminum case. One of the fans draws air in, the other exhausts it. Thus, air goes through the first fan, passes the copper heatsink and goes out through the second fan. The fans are positioned so that the air flows do not mix. 

The smaller back part of the case serves as a heatsink for the memory chips on the card's back. 

Advantages of such cooler:

  • Relatively low noise level. It's a real wonder as compared with the FlowFX. 
  • The card together with the cooler takes only one AGP slot. 

Disadvantages: 

  • The back is cooled worse than the front (the front has the copper heatsink). 
  • Air is taken from inside the PC case, i.e. it's already warmed by other PC components, and then the fan throws it out into the PC case again. Thus, the effectiveness is lower. 

The strong points outweigh the weak ones, and this seems to be the best version of the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra considering the cooler. 




















 
 
 
The back of the big heatsink case is not only bolted to its front but also touches the PCB itself, that is why the design is quite rigid and steady. 



On the back the memory chips are cooled only by the aluminum heatsink case through thick thermal pads (which reliably press the heatsink to the memory). 




In general, the design looks like some external device, for example, a modem :-), especially if you look from the direction of the external power supply connector. 

Box Contents: 
 

Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra MyVIVO 
CD with software (including WinFast DVD), CD with Video-In software, two games, User Guide, S-Video-to-RCA and DVI-to-d-Sub adapters, TV-out extenders and VIVO adapter/splitter. 



 
 
 
The card ships in the retail package. 
Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra MyVIVO 
A very stylish box with all information about the card. 



 
 
 

Overclocking

Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra MyVIVO  The overclocking is not very effective because performance of the NV30 much depends on the memory speed rather than on the core, and memory heats most of all. The core can reach 540 MHz, while the memory is able to approach only 1046 MHz. 
 


 

Note that 

  • Overclocking requires additional card cooling (for its memory, in particular): 



  • Overclocking depends on a certain sample, and you shouldn't extend single-card results to the entire series or trade mark. Overclocking results are not obligatory characteristics of video cards. 

Testbed and drivers

Testbed: 

  • Athlon XP 2600+ based computer: 
    • AMD Athlon XP 2600+ (2133 MHz); 
    • EPoX (nForce2) mainboard; 
    • 1024 MB DDR SDRAM PC3200; 
    • Seagate Barracuda IV 40GB hard drive. 
    • Windows XP SP1; DirectX 9.0. 
    • ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors. 
    • NVIDIA drivers v43.51. 

VSync off in drivers, texture compression off in applications. Texture detail set to High Quality. 

Video cards for comparison: 

  • Hercules 3D Prophet 9700 PRO (RADEON 9700 PRO, 325/310 (620) MHz, 128 MB, driver 6.307); 
  • ATI RADEON 9800 PRO (380/340 (680) MHz, 128 MB, driver 6.307). 

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. 

As for the sample tested, together with the ViewSonic P817 monitor and BNC Bargo cable it showed excellent quality at the following resolutions and clock speeds:

Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra MyVIVO  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x160Hz 

3D performance

Test applications: 

  • Quake3 Arena v.1.17 (id Software/Activision) - OpenGL, multitexturing, Quaver, test settings - maximum: detailing level - High, texture detailing level - #4, S3TC OFF, smoothness of curves is much increased through variables r_subdivisions "1" and r_lodCurveError "30000" (at default r_lodCurveError is 250 !), the configurations can be downloaded from here 

  •  
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein (MultiPlayer) (id Software/Activision) - OpenGL, multitexturing, Checkpoint-demo, maximum test settings, S3TC OFF, the configs are available here
    •  

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

  • Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo v.1077 (Final Release) (Digital Extreme/Epic Games) - Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality 

  •  
  • RightMark 3D (one of the game scenes) - DirectX 8.1, Dot3, cube texturing, shadow buffers, vertex and pixel shaders (1.1, 1.4). 

Today we have two aspects for analysis: 

  1. Performance of GeForce FX 5800 Ultra vs. CPU's frequency (AthlonXP) in the heavy AA and anisotropy modes; 
  2. Partially previous analysis with scaling but without AA and anisotropy enabled.

  3.  

3D graphics, game tests

 

Quake3 Arena














Serious Sam: TSE














RtCW










UT2003 DEMO










Rightmark 3D v.0.4










It's clear that the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra loses to the RADEON 9800 PRO, especially in the heavy AA and anisotropy modes (which are the main subject today). It will lose even if we take the price of the NV30 as $450 (the cards on our local market may cost $500), and the data on the RADEON 9800 PRO are based on the U.S. prices plus delivery costs etc. The real situation can be different, and most probably, it's not in favor of the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra. Performance vs. CPU's speed is clearly demonstrated above. 

In closing I must say that both cards worked flawlessly and stably. 

Conclusion

In spite of not so optimistic attitude towards this product, it has the right to exist. And it's for users to decide whether to buy it or not. I'm sure that the cards will be quickly sold out even at such high prices. Deficiency provokes growth of demand even for an unpopular product. 

In general, this Leadtek GeForce FX 5800 Ultra graphics card is the best of what we've seen. It sports the VIVO support, has a low-noise cooler and a good accessory pack. It's quite small at that. 
 

Highs:

  • Nearly best 3D performance among the accelerators virtually available on the market; 
  • High build quality, hence high reliability and stability; 
  • Good cooler, - it's effective and not so noisy as the FlowFX; 
  • Good accessory pack; 

Lows:

  • GeForce FX 5800 Ultra is very expensive and not widely available.


 

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com
 

Write a comment below. No registration needed!


Article navigation:



blog comments powered by Disqus

  Most Popular Reviews More    RSS  

AMD Phenom II X4 955, Phenom II X4 960T, Phenom II X6 1075T, and Intel Pentium G2120, Core i3-3220, Core i5-3330 Processors

Comparing old, cheap solutions from AMD with new, budget offerings from Intel.
February 1, 2013 · Processor Roundups

Inno3D GeForce GTX 670 iChill, Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti Graphics Cards

A couple of mid-range adapters with original cooling systems.
January 30, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1

An external X-Fi solution in tests.
September 9, 2008 · Sound Cards

AMD FX-8350 Processor

The first worthwhile Piledriver CPU.
September 11, 2012 · Processors: AMD

Consumed Power, Energy Consumption: Ivy Bridge vs. Sandy Bridge

Trying out the new method.
September 18, 2012 · Processors: Intel
  Latest Reviews More    RSS  

i3DSpeed, September 2013

Retested all graphics cards with the new drivers.
Oct 18, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, August 2013

Added new benchmarks: BioShock Infinite and Metro: Last Light.
Sep 06, 2013 · 3Digests

i3DSpeed, July 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 and AMD Radeon HD 7730.
Aug 05, 2013 · 3Digests

Gainward GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB Golden Sample Graphics Card

An excellent hybrid of GeForce GTX 650 Ti and GeForce GTX 660.
Jun 24, 2013 · Video cards: NVIDIA GPUs

i3DSpeed, May 2013

Added the test results of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770/780.
Jun 03, 2013 · 3Digests
  Latest News More    RSS  

Platform  ·  Video  ·  Multimedia  ·  Mobile  ·  Other  ||  About us & Privacy policy  ·  Twitter  ·  Facebook


25

Copyright © Byrds Research & Publishing, Ltd., 1997–2011. All rights reserved.