NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5700 Ultra

NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5700 Ultra - Page 1

NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5700 Ultra
NVIDIA's immediate answer to the 9600 XT

By Robert Maloney
October 23rd,  2003

What a difference a week can make.  Just a week ago yesterday, when the NDA lifted on the ATi Radeon 9600 XT, we had nothing but praise for the great performance that ATi was offering with their new mainstream solution.  Our tests compared the 9600 XT to the previous model, the 9600 Pro, and a card from NVIDIA's camp, the GeForce FX 5600.  A quick recap of that review, had the Radeon 9600 XT winning all of the benchmarks, easily capturing the lead in the mainstream video card business - at least for the time being.  We told you, however, to keep your eyes out for a response from Santa Clara. 

Today, NVIDIA comes at you with a double-pronged launch, releasing a new card for both the hard-core gamer, the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra, and one for the rest of us, the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra.  The 5700 Ultra, previously known as the NV36, has just about everything one could hope for in a mainstream video solution, including the latest high-speed DDR2 memory, AGP8X, and NVIDIA's CineFX 2 and Intellisample technologies.  Building on the strengths of the GeForce FX 5600 Ultra (NV31), NVIDIA has found some more headroom in their 0.13 micron GPUs, and have raised the clock speed from 400MHz for the 5600 Ultra all the way up to 475MHz.  The rest of the architecture remains relatively unchanged, although 128MB of DDR2 memory has been added to the board, something one wouldn't normally expect to find on a "value" card.  With similar specs to the ATi Radeon 9600 XT, we expect that the battle between these two mainstream cards will be fast and furious, so let's take a quick peek at the card itself, and then move onto the benchmarks.

Specifications & Features of the 128MB NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra
The NV36 is finally revealed


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
  • 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/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


FILLRATE: 1.9B pixels/sec



The sample we received came by the way of eVGA, one of NVIDIA's product launch partners.  Although the card is somewhat longer than other recent entries, it really has a lean, mean look to it.  When we say lean, we would like to point out that the 5700 Ultra has a single-slot thermal solution, but more on that later.  As eVGA points out on their box, a power connection is necessary, and in this case a 4-pin MOLEX connector will be used.  Most modern power supply units have multiple power connections, so this shouldn't be an issue.  As is standard, the ports on the bracket consisted of DVI-out, 15-pin VGA, and S-Video out.  Incidentally, the 0.13 micron die process for the GPU is handled this time around by IBM, in East Fishkill, NY, not too far from our testing labs.


The GPU and DDR2 RAM are running at pretty high speeds, generating a bit of heat, but are cooled using a one-piece, slim-line heatsink/fan manufactured by AVC.  Unlike the larger fans found on the 5900 and 5950 Ultra card, this solution only requires one slot, and it is relatively quiet.  We also found an oversized heatsink over the memory chips on the back of the card along with the NVIDIA logo on a separate tab attached by screws from the front.  eVGA has even adorned the front of the fan with one of NVIDIA's demo-dwellers, Vulcan.  Other manufacturer's models will invariably use other cooling solutions, however, there is little room for personalizing the card since NVIDIA has strict control over the manufacturing process.  The heatsink is seated on top of the RAM and GPU using copious amounts of thermal paste, quite evident in our photo.


eVGA's packaging of the e-GeForce FX 5700 Ultra consisted of a vibrant box that boldly points out the major selling points of the card, although the actual speeds of the core and memory are curiously absent.  The bundled software and accessories are somewhat less thrilling.  There was an S-video cable and a DVI-to-VGA converter, handy for setting up dual monitors.  The User's Guide was scant on information, offering only the basics for setting up the card, without further explanation of its capabilities.  The Installation CD contained a set of Detonator drivers, which can be automatically installed using eVGA's ADM software, short for Automated Driver Management. The ADM first checks for the system chipset, and will install the correct AGP GART driver if needed.  It then checks for pre-existing video drivers, and removes them before installing the newer ones.  It takes away any of the complexity that a new user might run into when installing an upgrade.  The other CDs included NVDVD 2.0, a demo disc, and a full version of Ghost Recon.  Unfortunately, Ghost Recon was released in 2001, and really won't whet gamer's appetites like ATi's inclusion of Half-Life2 with the 9600 and 9800 XTs.

The Drivers & Some Screenshots

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