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Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO
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Date: Apr 26, 2003
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
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Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO - Page 1

Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO
A "Friendly" GeForceFX 5800 Ultra...

By - Marco Chiappetta
April 25, 2003

NVIDIA's latest flagship GPU the NV30, now known as the GeForce FX 5800, has been a long time coming.  Products based on the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra are just now starting to arrive in very limited quantities.  The first batch of products to ship to pre-order customers were all basically the same.  They were all based on the same reference board design, and they all shipped with the now infamous "FX-Flow" cooler.  Gainward was one of the first companies to show off an FX 5800 Ultra with a custom cooling solution, but their card still looked very similar to the competition's.  Leadtek however, took things a giant step further and came up with a completely redesigned cooling solution for their card.  The WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO is based on the same GeForce FX 5800 Ultra reference design, but the cooling solution is not like anything else we have seen to date.  With all of the negative press surrounding the "FX-Flow" and its extremely high noise levels, it's no wonder Leadtek wanted to replace it.  Their solution is rather unique too.  Lets take a look...

THE WINFAST A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO
       
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

Specifications & Features of the WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO
A Full Featured DX9 Part
WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO
  • NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra GPU
  • CineFX Engine
  • Intellisample Technology
  • High-Precision Graphics
  • nView Multi-display Technology
  • Digital Vibrance Control (DVC)
  • Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
  • AGP 8X
  • 0.13 Micron Process Technology
  • 400MHz RAMDACs
  • 4 Billion AA samples per second fill rate
  • 200 Million vertices/sec
  • 16GB/sec memory bandwidth
  • 1.0 GHz memory data rate
  • 8 Pixels per Clock Rendering Pipeline
  • 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)
  • 128 MB DDR2 Memory
  • 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

Software Bundle

  • ULead Video studio SE DVD / ULead cool 3D SE
  • WinFast PVR / WinFastDVD / WinFox II
  • Cult 3D
  • Coloreal Embedded / Coloreal Visual / Coloreal Bright
  • Gun Metal
  • Big Mutha Truckers
VIVO Features:

PIP(picture in picture):

  • One for live and the other for captured program. And master video can be alternative. The slave video can be displayed with any size and anywhere.

De-interlace:

  • Make the best quality for fast-motion video. No noise and flicker on the edge of motion objects.

Capture format profile:

  • Support friendly setting for MPEG1/MPEG2/VCD/DVD video format
  • Supports MPEG1/MPEG2/MPEG4 video codec and MPEG3 audio codec configuration.
  • Supports de-interlaced function to get high quality of motion video, Bridging video to PC from VCR, camcorder, LD/VCD/DVD player

 


Over the last 10 months, we have spent quite a bit of time exploring the NV3x architecture, the Detonator 40 drivers and the product line based on these GPUs.  For more detailed information regarding these subjects, please refer to these HotHardware articles...

NV3X Architectural Overview / Detonator 40 Driver Evaluation / GeForce FX Debut / GeForce FX Showcase / GeForce FX 5200, 5200 Ultra & 5600 Ultra / GeForce FX 5200 Ultra Performance Analysis / GeForce FX Go Unveiled


    

    

When this card was first introduced, two questions immediately popped into the heads of every enthusiast who saw it:

1) Does the A300 Ultra fill only a single slot?   No, the card has only one mounting bracket, but the fans completely obstruct the first PCI slot on most mainboards.

2) Is it as loud as the "FX-Flow"?   No, it's not even close.  We did not have an FX-Flow equipped 5800 Ultra in the lab to do a side by side comparison, but we were exposed to the FX-Flow at Comdex.  The FX-Flow sounds like a hair dryer when it spins up.  Leadtek's cooling solution is much quieter.  When running in 2D, the fans spin down, and the A300 Ultra is no louder than any other high-end card, like a Radeon 9700 Pro for example.  When in 3D Mode, the fans spin up, and get noticeably louder, but they are not unbearable at all.  One fan blows air into the casing; the other sucks air out...simple enough!  We took some decibel readings with an analog sound meter from about 12 inches away, with the case open on our test system.  When idle, the whole system was registering about 59db on the sound meter.  When in 3D Mode with the fans spinning at maximum, the noise level jumped to "only" 63-64db.

         

Underneath the aluminum casing on the A300 Ultra, you'll find a substantial copper-finned cooler mounted directly over the GPU and 2ns "DDR-2 type" RAM.  There is a copper heatsink mounted to the back of the card as well.  As you may already know, the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra runs at two different speeds, 300MHz core / 600MHz memory when in 2D Mode, and 500MHz core / 1000MHz memory when running 3D applications.  Leadtek's cooling solution handled these clock speeds without a problem.  As you'll see a little later, core temperatures remained well within acceptable limits even after hours of benchmarking.

    

Included with the card we found a few accessories and a ton of software.  As the name implies, the WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO has Video-In and Video-Out capabilities.  The blue cable that ships with the A300 allows for easy access to both S-Video and Composite in and out connectors.  A power cable splitter is also included with the card, as well as a standard S-Video cable, a composite video cable and a DVI-to-DB15 adapter.  A slew of software also accompanies the A300.  In the box we found ULead Video studio SE DVD and Cool 3D SE, along with Cult3D and Coloreal Embedded, Visual and Bright.  Two full games, "Gun Metal" and "Big Mutha Truckers", were also included with the card.  Some "Leadtek" branded programs shipped with the A300 as well, WinFast PVR, WinFastDVD and WinFox II.

Next Up, Image Quality... 

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Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO - Page 2

Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO
A "Friendly" GeForceFX 5800 Ultra...

By - Marco Chiappetta
April 25, 2003

There has been quite a bit of discussion over the last few months regarding the GeForce FX's image quality. Direct image quality comparisons between Radeon 9700 / 9800 Pros and GeForce FX 5800's prove the Radeons have better overall image quality, especially when Antialiasing and Anisotropic filtering are used.  We're not going to do another direct comparison here, because NVIDIA has stated that a future driver update, that should be available soon, will significantly change the GeForce FX's image quality.  We'll do another direct comparison when those drivers are released.  We did take some screenshots to show what to expect from a GeForce FX 5800 Ultra today though...

Screenshots with Antialiasing Enabled
This should give you some idea...
 

PIN-WHEEL: NO AA
 

PIN-WHEEL: 2X AA
 

PIN-WHEEL: 4X AA

This first group of screenshots were taken with the Pin-Wheel demo that debuted in our Radeon 9600 Pro review.  The Pin-Wheel spins slowly, so the jagged edges of each sector are never stationary.  It's a very simple tool, but it does a great job of demonstrating the effect of Antialiasing.  As you can clearly see, the jaggies on each line are much less apparent as the AA level is increased.


UT 2003: NO AA
ENLARGED 400%


UT 2003: NO AA
 


UT 2003: 2X AA
ENLARGED 400%


UT 2003: 2X AA
 


UT 2003: QUIN. AA
ENLARGED 400%


UT 2003: QUIN. AA
 


UT 2003: 4X AA
ENLARGED 400%


UT 2003: 4X AA
 


UT 2003: 4XS AA
ENLARGED 400%


UT 2003: 4XS AA
 


UT 2003: 6XS AA
ENLARGED 400%


UT 2003: 6XS AA
 


UT 2003: 8X AA
ENLARGED 400%


UT 2003: 8X AA
 


UT 2003: 16X AA
ENLARGED 400%


UT 2003: 16X AA
 

We also took some screenshots with the A300 Ultra at every different AA level available in NVIDIA's drivers using Unreal Tournament 2003.  Luckily we used the Pin-Wheel demo as well, because we weren't able to accurately represent 2X and Quincunx AA with these screenshots.  These AA levels were functioning properly in-game, but when we took the screenshots, they looked as if AA was not applied.  We took all of the screenshots above at 1024x768, with all of UT2003's graphical options set at their maximum values.  We enlarged a small portion of the screen 400% to give you a better idea of the affects of AA on the image.  From 4X -  6XS, it's clear the jagged edges are significantly reduced. The 8X and 16X shots are also much less "jagged", but differences between these two settings aren't very apparent.  After what we saw with the 2X and Quincunx screenshots however, we can't be certain the 8X and 16X AA methods are properly represented.  Also, keep in mind all of the screenshots on this page are compressed JPEGs.  Actual in-game image quality is much better than what you see here...

In Game Screenshots with Anisotropic Filtering using Quake 3 Arena
Quick and Dirty Screenies

QUAKE 3 NO ANISO WITH
COLORED MIP-MAPS


QUAKE 3 NO ANISO
 


QUAKE 3 2X ANISO WITH
COLORED MIP-MAPS


QUAKE 3 2X ANISO
 


QUAKE 3 4X ANISO WITH
COLORED MIP-MAPS


QUAKE 3 4X ANISO
 


QUAKE 3 8X ANISO WITH
COLORED MIP-MAPS


QUAKE 3 8X ANISO
 

We used Quake 3 Arena to demonstrate the affects of the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra's Anisotropic filtering method.  Quake 3 has a feature that basically color codes each mip-map level to demonstrate the transition from one level to to the next.  To put things very simply, each band of color in the screenshots above (also taken at 1024x768) represents a different level of detail.  The areas "closest" to the viewer at the front of the image have the highest level of detail, areas "furthest away" at the rear of the image have the lowest level of detail.  As each level of Anisotropic filtering is enabled, textures are sharpened more and more.  The portion of the screen with the highest level of detail extends further back into the screen.  We also included screenshots without the colored banding so you can see exactly what the FX 5800 Ultra's Anisotropic filtering is doing to the image.

Let's Look at Some Numbers

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Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO - Page 3

Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO
A "Friendly" GeForceFX 5800 Ultra...

By - Marco Chiappetta
April 25, 2003

Regardless of whether or not you think Futuremark's 3DMark03 is a meaningful benchmark, the bottom line is that it remains one of the only programs out there that uses DirectX 9 class pixel and vertex shaders (at least in one of the tests!) in a simulated game environment.  Until we have some true DX9 class games available to accurately test performance, 3DMark03 is "it".  We ran 3DMark03 on all of the cards represented here, at the benchmark's default settings...

Benchmarks With 3DMark03
The Controversial Synthetic DX9 Benchmark
 

LEADTEK A300 ULTRA TD
 

RADEON 9800 PRO
 

RADEON 9700 PRO
 

RADEON 9500 PRO

The 3DMark03 overall scores show the Leadtek A300 Ultra and Radeon 9800 Pro performing at virtually identical levels (5404 vs. 5410), with both cards coming in a comfortable margin ahead of the 9700 and 9500 Pros.  Pay attention to the performance results from the individual tests though.  You'll notice the Leadtek card pulled ahead of the Radeon 9800 Pro in only the "Mother Nature" and the Multi-Texturing Fill Rate tests.  All of the other tests belong to the 9800 Pro.

Head-to-Head Performance With Comanche 4
Looks Like Recent New Footage

Next up, we have some numbers from an actual DirectX 8 class game, Novalogic's combat helicopter simulator, Comanche 4.  Comanche 4 makes use of DX8 pixel and vertex shaders to produce some of the realistic visuals used throughout the game.  This benchmark is heavily influenced by CPU and system memory performance, so don't be confused by what look like relatively "low" frame rates here...

At 1024x768 without AA and with 4X AA enabled, all of the cards except for the GeForce 4 Ti 4600 perform at similar levels.  Once we enabled 6X AA and Anisotropic filtering however, the Radeon 9800 Pro led the pack, followed by the 9700 Pro and then the FX 5800 Ultra powered Leadtek A300 Ultra.  When the resolution was raised to 1600x1200, we have a similar scenario, with the Radeon 9800 Pro outpacing all of the other cards, in every configuration.  In the "4X AA + Aniso" tests, the A300 Ultra did manage to nudge ahead of the 9700 Pro, by a very slim margin.

Some Quake 3 & UT2003 Benchmarks 

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Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO - Page 4

Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO
A "Friendly" GeForceFX 5800 Ultra...

By - Marco Chiappetta
April 25, 2003

We continued our DirectX testing with what is arguably the "best looking" game available today, Epic's Unreal Tournament 2003.  UT 2003's graphics definitely raised the bar when it was released.  With image quality enhancing features like AA and Anisotropic filtering enabled, UT 2003 can bring just about any video card currently available to its knees.  For this test, we used a special utility to ensure all of the cards were benchmarked using the exact same in-game settings and "High-Quality" graphical options.  Here's what we found...

Performances Comparisons With UT:2003
Some of the most advanced visuals to date

Without any Antialiasing or Anisotropic filtering, the Leadtek A300 Ultra TD performed very well, and even managed to overtake the Radeon 9800 Pro at 1600x1200.  Once we enabled AA though, the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra's performance dropped off sharply and both the Radeon 9800 and 9700 Pros crushed it.  In fact, at 1024x768 with 6X AA enabled, the Radeon 9800 Pro outperformed the A300 Ultra by 86%!  Ouch.  Last year's darling, the GeForce 4 Ti 4600 took a pounding by the hands of the newer cards as well, but it still pulled off a very respectable 62.1 FPS at 1600x1200.

Benchmarks / Comparison With Quake 3 Arena v1.32
I have watched so many Q3 Timedemos, I'm seeing them in my sleep...

That's enough DirectX testing for one sitting, what do you say we move on to some OpenGL action with the Granddaddy of all benchmarks, Quake 3 Arena?  We installed the latest point release, v1.32, and ran some tests using the built-in timedemo, "demo four".  Before running these tests, we set Quake 3 to the "High Quality" graphics option with Tri-Linear filtering enabled, and then we maxed out the texture quality and geometric detail...

My, my how things have changed! :)  As expected, all of the cards performed very well in these tests.  With the exception of the GeForce 4 Ti4600, all of the cards posted playable frame rates at both resolutions, regardless of whether or not AA and Aniso filtering were enabled.  At default settings, the Leadtek A300 Ultra TD outpaced the competition, but once AA and Aniso were enabled the Radeons took over.  At 1024x768 with AA and Aniso enabled, the Radeon 9800 Pro pulled ahead of the A300 Ultra by about 10%.  The lead grew to about 20% when we raised the resolution to 1600x1200 with the same settings.

Serious Sam, Some Overclocking & The Conclusion... 

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Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO - Page 5

Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO
A "Friendly" GeForceFX 5800 Ultra...

By - Marco Chiappetta
April 25, 2003

Our benchmarking continued with some tests courtesy of Croteam's Serious Sam: The Second Encounter.  We configured the game to use OpenGL (this is one of the few games that can use either DirectX or OpenGL) and ran a series of tests using the built-in "Little Trouble" demo.   To make certain the playing field was level, we used the "Extreme Quality" script, created by the folks at Beyond3D, to max out the texture and filtering quality with all of the cards tested.

Head-to-Head / Performance With Serious Sam: TSE
Big Guns + Exploding Aliens = Fun

At 1024x768 the Leadtek A300 Ultra TD puts up a good show, pulling ahead of the Radeon 9700 Pro with an without AA enabled.  The A300 also outran the 9800 Pro at default settings, by a considerable margin, but once again the Radeon 9800 Pro proved to be the "faster" card when AA was enabled.  The trend continued when the resolution was raised to 1600x1200.  The Radeon 9800 Pro won every test regardless of what settings were used.  With AA enabled at 1600x1200, the Radeon 9700 Pro also pulled ahead of the A300 Ultra.  The GeForce FX 5800 Ultra sure could use some extra memory bandwidth...

Overclocking With The WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO
Cranking Up The Clock Speeds...

DEFAULT CLOCK SPEEDS

OVER-CLOCKED
527MHZ CORE / 545MHZ MEM

Overclocking the Leadtek A300 Ultra TD turned out to be a fruitless endeavor.  We used the "Coolbits" registry hack to enable clock speed adjustments from within NVIDIA's drivers.  We then raised clock speeds slowly, and saw no significant changes in performance until we hit a core speed of about 525MHz and performance dropped by roughly 5%.  We thought core temperatures were getting too high when the card was overclocked, so we took some temperature readings and found things were running well within specifications.


SYSTEM IDLE


SYSTEM AFTER TWO LOOPS OF 3DMARK03 WHILE OVERCLOCKED

The GeForce FX 5800 Ultra GPU's speed will be reduced if temperatures get too high, but we never even came close to hitting the 140 degrees C shown above.  So, as it stands now we don't have any meaningful overclocking results to report.  NVIDIA really had to push hard to get core speeds up to 500MHz with the NV30 though, so don't expect any monumental overclocks with GeForce FX 5800 Ultra cards.

The Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO is an interesting product, but it is ultimately overshadowed by competing products based on ATi's flagship GPU.  The Leadtek card is fast and it's "quieter" than other GeForce FX 5800 Ultras, but unfortunately it is just as hard to find.  The Radeon 9800 Pro on the other hand, is faster, it's quieter and it's readily available at many retailers worldwide.  The WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO is also one of the most expensive gaming cards out there, with an MSRP of $439.00 US.  If you're dead-set on purchasing a GeForce FX 5800 Ultra though, you'd be hard pressed to find a better product than the WinFast A300 Ultra.  Simply put, Leadtek has made the best of bad situation.  The Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO has an excellent bundle, a great cooling solution and brings useful Video-In and Video-Out capabilities to the table.  Had we gotten the chance to look at this card last year, our rating would probably have been higher, but based on its limited availability, relatively high price and the fact that the Radeon 9800 Pro outperformed it in most instances, we're giving the Leadtek WinFast A300 Ultra TD MyVIVO a 7.5 on the HotHardware Heat Meter... 

There are a ton of folks just like you in HotHardware's PC Hardware Forum...Go There Now!

 

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