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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [10.05.03]
Manufactured by: InnoVision

Est. Street Price: ~$255

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Not the fastest, but close!

Contrary to common belief, there are actually more than 3 simple video card categories. You might think it would go like this:

Budget cards (Radeon 9200, GeForceFX 5200)
Mid Range (Radeon 9600, GeForceFX 5600)
High End (Radeon 9800, GeForceFX 5900)

It's not quite that simple. In most cases, each model number comes in a 'regular' version, and an 'ultra' or 'pro' version. Earlier this week, we compared ATI's 9800 Pro 256 to their other high end card, the 9800 Pro (which comes with 128MB). Our findings were that in no way does the extra 128MB of ram justify the $130-150 increase in price on the card.

The Chart

Before we move on, let's post a chart so you can reference the specs of the cards we'll be talking about:

  Core Clock Speed Pixel Pipelines mPixel Fillrate per second Tex Units per Pipeline Mtexel Fillrate per second Memory Speed Memory Bus Width Peak Memory Bandwidth
Radeon 9800 Pro 256 380 MHz 8 3040 1 3040 700 MHz 256 bit 22.4 GB/s
Radeon 9800 Pro 380 MHz 8 3040 1 3040 680 MHz 256 bit 21.8 GB/s
Radeon 9700 Pro 325 MHz 8 2600 1 2600 620 MHz 256 bit 19.8 GB/s
GeForceFX 5900 400 MHz 4 1600 2 3200 850 MHz 256 bit 27.1 GB/s
GeForceFX 5900 Ultra 450 MHz 4 1800 2 3600 850 MHz 256 bit 27.2 GB/s

Although we don't have a 5900 Ultra in stock (which is unfortunate but we'll have to make do), I put it there for reference. You'll note that the memory used on the 5900 NON Ultra we're looking at here today is the exact same used on the Ultra (but 128MB rather than 256MB). The core clock speed is lower by 50 MHz however.

Now let's do some shopping

GeForce FX 5900: $255
GeForce FX 5900 Ultra: $381

Again we have quite a difference for 128MB of extra ram (and a 50 MHz faster core). Although it's not as much as the difference between the 9800 Pro and Pro 256, it's still considerable at over $130.

Just for reference, let's look at the prices of the ATI cards the 5900 competes against:

Radeon 9800 Pro: $315
Radeon 9800 Pro 256: $450
Radeon 9700 Pro: $286

That puts the 5900 squarely in competition with the 9800 Pro 128MB. Good thing we have one of those on hand. First let's see what the InnoVision card we have here today has to offer.

InnoVision is located in Hong Kong, and is a very common brand over there. It's not all that easy to find on this side of the Pacific however. One thing I appreciate from InnoVision is their non-standard non-reference non-boring heatsink design:

You can't tell from this picture, but there are actually two blue LED's under the heatsink grille. They light up when the PC is powered on, and give off quite a bit of light for a very nice effect (so long as blue matches your current colour scheme).

The PCI bracket is the typical layout we see time and again. Standard VGA, a DVI adapter, and an S-Video out. Unfortunately the only cable that is included in the box is an S-Video to Composite, which is just mind boggling. A DVI to VGA adapter is included, of course, for dual monitor usage.

The software bundle is standard faire, and surprizingly similar to the ATI card from PowerColor we looked at last week. Included is a demo version of 3dMark 03 (which would have been ironic had NVIDIA not eventually joined up with FutureMark after this card was released). You also get the outdated-but-not-obsolete WinDVD 4 player. You also get WinDVD Creator 4 (retail on this was $50 when it was new over a year ago). The latest video card bundle whore Comanche 4 also makes a showing (of course). A demo disc is also included; it's almost the exact same disc that came with the PowerColor Radeon 9800 Pro we looked at last week: Demos of Viet Cong, Blackhawk Down, Red Faction, and Serious Sam: SE. Good demos for sure, but demos nonetheless.

The Test

Here is the system used for testing all video cards:

CPU: Pentium 4 3.2 GHz
Motherboard: DFI Lanparty 875
RAM: 512MB Kingmax DDR400
HDD: Seagate Barracuda IV 80GB ATA100
OS: WinXP with SP1 and DirectX 9b

ATI Catalyst 3.7 (WHQL Certified)
NVIDIA Detonator 45.23 (WHQL Certified)

All publicly available benchmarks can be found on our Downloads Page.

We did almost every test in 3 modes per card. These modes are ones that most gamers will actually use when they play games.

1024x768 - To produce a real gaming environment many will use
1600x1200 - To produce a high resolution gaming environment (for you boys with big monitors!)
1024x768 w/ 4xAA and 8x Aniso - A gaming environment most high end users will use

On with the show!

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