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Crappy Timing Yet Again
Yes, once again HCW has the worst timing when it comes to reviewing video cards. Our review of the PowerColor Radeon 9800 Pro 256, it was published a day before ATI launched the 9800XT.
Today we have our review of a GeForce FX 5700 Ultra, but later today you'll hear about NVIDIA's latest mid-range video card, the 5900XT. The 5900XT is clocked slightly lower than the 5900 we reviewed already, but it ends up being quite a bit faster than the 5700 Ultra. That wouldn't be so bad, but NVIDIA plans on making this card available at just around $200 MSRP, just $10-20 more than the 5700 Ultra. I find it quite odd that Nvidia would compete with their own products like this.
But we have to make do with what we have, and although I have to keep the 5900XT in mind when coming to a conclusion, there is/was still a lot to talk about with this particular card.
Inno3D's 5700 Ultra 128MB
The version we have today is the 128MB part from InnoVision over in Hong Kong. It is also available in 256MB, but the price increases significantly.
Although the card is clocked at 475 MHz; the simpler NV36 chip requires no more than this simple low profile heatsink. InnoVision equipped the heatsink with a blue LED which lights up the bottom part of your case nicely. Other than that though, the card looks pretty generic, unlike other Inno3D cards.
The Inno3D 5700 Ultra comes equipped with BGA DDRII chips clocked at 906 MHz DDR, according to PowerStrip. As you can see, it uses Samsung 2.2ns parts. We'll get to overclocking later, but I'll tell you now that this card overclocks like hell.
And here's the new NV36 chip, made by IBM. In 2D mode, it is clocked at 300 MHz according to Powerstrip; even this is probably more than enough. When running a 3D app, it ramps up to 475 Mhz. This allows it to run as cool as possible.
We'll post a chart here, with the 5700 Ultra, its direct competition from ATI (the 9600XT), and the upcoming 5900XT (consider them speculated numbers for the time being, but I will update them with official specs when they are released later today, if I have to. They are based on posted specs and product pictures around various sites). I also threw in the specs for the GFFX 5900 that the 5900XT is based on (they just downclocked it a bit).
Looking at the specs of the 5900XT, it is almost unbelievable that it would sell for the same price as the 5700 Ultra we are looking at here. It is based on the NV36, so has 2 Texture Units per pipeline, almost doubling the multitexturing fillrate performance. Furthermore, it uses a 256 bit memory bus, so has a TON of memory bandwidth. All this for $200? Hard to believe - I guess we'll see when/if it happens.
Compared to its 'normal' competition, the 9600XT, it matches up quite well - Similar single texturing fill rate, similar multitexturing fill rate. The only big difference is peak memory bandwidth - the 9600XT with its meager 600 MHz memory speed simply cannot keep up with the 5700 Ultra and its 900 MHz memory. But all that is theoretical, let's see what happens when we throw some benchmarks at it.
Here is the system used for testing all video cards:
CPU: Pentium 4 3.2 GHz
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
On with the show!
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