GeForce FX 5200 Ultra Performance Analysis

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GeForce FX 5200 Ultra Performance Analysis
Detailed Benchmarks With NVIDIA's Value Gaming Card

By - Marco Chiappetta and Dave Altavilla
March 12, 2003

 

We have only had a GeForce FX 5200 Ultra in our possession for a relatively short period of time, so we have not been able to assess its visual output quality as thoroughly as we would have liked.  What we have for you below is a quick look at Quake 3 Arena, with and without Antialiasing and Anisotropic filtering.  These shots were taken at 1024x768, with Quake 3's in-game graphical options set to maximum.  We used the Radeon's Quality 4X AA setting and the GeForce FX's "Balanced" 4X AA method.  Anisotropic filtering was maxed in both sets of drivers but remember ATi's older products, like the R9000 we used here, cannot process Trilinear filtering when Anisotropic filtering is enabled.  The Radeon 9000 will drop back down to bilinear filtering, in this situation.

In Game Screenshots with Quake 3 Arena
Quick and Dirty


RADEON 9000
NO AA / NO  ANISO
 


RADEON 9000
4X AA / MAX ANISO
 


GEFORCE FX 5200 ULTRA
NO AA / NO  ANISO


GEFORCE FX 5200 ULTRA
4X AA / MAX ANISO

As you look through the above screen captures, please keep in mind that some quality is lost, when the images are converted to JPEGs, although we used very low compression.  The second, smaller images at the right, are the upper right corner of the screen, enlarged 700%.  Without any Antialiasing or Anisotropic filtering, both shots look very similar.  However,  we would have to give a slight edge to the GeForce FX 5200 Ultra.  The textures in the distance just seem to be slightly sharper in our opinion.  When we enabled AA and Aniso, however, our feelings are mixed.  The GeForce FX 5200 Ultra clearly does a better job than the Radeon 9000 at eliminating jaggies, but in the process, textures get blurred significantly.  NVIDIA has stated that the GeForce FX's Anisotropic filtering capabilities and performance will change in future driver releases, so expect these screen shots to be irrelevant in the near future.  We'll explore the GeForce FX's image quality, when the product has some more time to mature.

Also, we should note that the Radeon 9000 is driving ATi's legacy AA Algorithm, that does not offer the higher quality Gamma Corrected AA methods of their R9500, 9600, 9700 and 9800 product lines.  These R9000 screenshots are representative of the same sort of AA quality you would get from a legacy Radeon 8500, for example.  However,  ATi does have a mainstream / value product coming down the pipe, as we've already shown you.  So a Radeon 9500 or 9600's AA quality would be a more apples to apples comparison here.  We'll have more on this subject, as we get ATi product into the lab for evaluation.

 

As we mentioned earlier the GeForce FX 5200 Ultra will debut at an MSRP of $149, and you can currently find Radeon 9000 Pro 128MB cards for less than $125 at various on-line resellers.  Keep an eye on both of these products however, because things should be dropping off sharply, once the 5200 Ultra actually gets into the channel.  We expect the GeForce FX 5200 Ultra's "street" price to be much lower than suggested retail price however, which would make this DX9 capable card, currently the most feature rich product at its price point.  Overall performance was good for a mainstream part, especially with AA and Aniso enabled.  However, GeForce 4 Ti4200 or Radeon 8500 owners itching for an upgrade will probably want to look elsewhere.  First time system builders looking for a decent gaming card would be well served by a GeForce FX 5200 Ultra.  In addition, we suspect this card will find its way into many of the pre-built PCs offered by most of the large OEMs, the same position the GeForce 4 MX is in now. 

Adding DX9 capabilities and greater performance, without significantly increasing cost will make the GeForce FX 5200 very popular with the OEMs.  NVIDIA may be struggling at the high-end, but they're mainstream parts should put up a good fight.  When we finally get our hands on ATi's new R9200 and R9600 product, we'll be able to paint a clearer picture of where each company stands in the mainstream market.  One thing is for sure, there should be a fairly competitive 3D Graphics landscape for the next few quarters.

 

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