Chaintech Apogee AA5700U - HotHardware

Chaintech Apogee AA5700U

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Chaintech Apogee AA5700U
Redefining the meaning of mainstream

By Robert Maloney
March 15th,  2004

When we last checked in with NVIDIA before the holidays with our look at the 5900XT, we were surprised at its performance / price ratio.  Releasing the 5900XT no less than two months after the similarly priced 5700 Ultra raised some eyebrows however, as it seemed to sound an early death knell for the previous released 5700 Ultra cards. Still, some manufacturers are reluctant to completely give up on the 5700 Ultra, adding additional features in an effort to make the card more attractive.  What we've got in store for you today is Chaintech's Apogee AA5700U, a video card targeted squarely at the mainstream market, with some top of the line additions.  The Apogee AA5700U is Chaintech's second card based on NVIDIA's 5700 Ultra, the first being the SA5700U.  The AA5700 is, at first glance, simply flashier with its blue LEDs and twin-fan cooler, and it seems to be a better value when looking at the included software and cables.  What remains to be seen, is if the AA5700 is actually better?  In order to find out the answer to this question (and others), we've put the AA5700U up against ATi's latest and greatest mainstream offering, the Radeon 9600XT, as well as the aforementioned GeForce FX 5900XT.  We'll start with a briefing on the 5700 Ultra specifications.

Specifications & Features of the Apogee AA5700U
A 5700 Ultra by any other name

         

 
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra GPU
  • CineFX 2.0 Engine
  • Intellisample Technology HCT
  • High-Precision Graphics
  • nView Multi-display Technology
  • Digital Vibrance Control (DVC)
  • Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
  • AGP 8X including Fast Writes and sideband addressing
  • 0.13 Micron Process Technology from IBM
  • Copper vias and wiring
  • 400MHz RAMDACs

     
  • Graphics Core: 256-bit
  • Engine clock: 475 MHz
  • Memory Interface: 128-bit DDR2 SDRAM
  • Memory Bandwidth: 14.4GB/sec
  • Fill Rate: 1.9 billion pixels/sec
  • Vertices/sec. 356 million
  • Memory Clock: 450MHz
  • Memory Data Rate: 900MHz
  • Maximum Memory: 256MB
  • Pixels per Clock: 4
  • Textures per Rendering Pass: 16
  • Thermal solution: Silent, single-slot heatsink/twin-fan
 
  • Architected for Cg
  • Microsoft® DirectX®9.0 Optimizations and Support
  • New 64-phase Video Scaler
  • OpenGL®1.4 Optimizations and Support
  • Video Mixing Renderer (VMR)
  • High-performance, high-precision 3D rendering engine
  • On-board DVI support up to 1600x1200 resolution
  • On-board TV-out support up to 1024x768 resolution
  • Integrated Full Hardware MPEG-2 Decoder
  • Vivid NTSC/PAL TV-out support with flicker filter


CLICK TO ENLARGE

APOGEE AA5700U
CORE CLOCK: 475MHz
MEMORY CLOCK: 453MHz
FILLRATE: 1.9B pixels/sec
MEMORY BANDWIDTH: 14.4 GB/s


         

As we alluded to in the introduction, Chaintech didn't pull any punches when forming the bundle that comes with the AA5700U.  A simple look at the oversized box can testify to that.  We kept taking pieces out and then sorted them into three groups: setup, media, and cabling.  The setup consisted of a thorough manual with accompanying CD-ROM.  It's one thing to simply give the user installation instructions, it's another to go into the "ins-and-outs" of setting it up correctly so that you can get the most out of the card.  Chaintech has also gone the "extra mile" and provided each kind of cable that one could conceivably use when setting up their system.  We found a S-Video cable, a SV to AV cable, a power cable splitter for those lacking an additional plug, and a VGA-to-DVI adapter.  Missing from the picture, there should also have been a composite cable, as well as the Q-Ball, a green spongy ball that Chaintech includes for cleaning your monitor.  What will they think of next?

         

Once the card is up and running, you'll need something to try it out, and that's where the media pack comes in.  There's a little bit of everything thrown into the mix of CDs that we found.  One CD was for WinProducer 3.0, which can be used to make your own VCDs, while another came with WinDVD Player, WinDVD Creator, and WinRip, which is used for ripping music from your CD collection into MP3 format.  The 5-in-1 Game Pack CD provided a few game demonstrations, which would normally be better received had they not been demos of games that were quite dated.  Indeed, Max Payne has already had three years under its belt, and a sequel to boot.  The real crux of the collection then is the full version of Commandos 3: Destination Berlin.  Commandos 3 is a strategy type game that can really benefit from the high resolution output that the Chaintech Apogee AA5700U can provide.  Alas, we found that the Commandos 3 CDs we received would not work correctly.  This might simply be an issue with the ForceWare 56.56 drivers that Eidos will need to look into, but it's something to look out for.  We were able to run it successfully using 53.03 version drivers.

Chaintech unleashes the AA5700U   

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