NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5900 XT

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eVGA's e-GeForce FX 5900SE
A curiously named GeForce card hits the market

By Robert Maloney
December 15th,  2003

It seems like only yesterday we were testing the latest and greatest releases from both ATi and NVIDIA, as each company tried to one-up the other in the mainstream graphics market.  While we were pleased with the ATi Radeon 9600 XT's performance, we were doubly impressed the very next week by NVIDIA's 5700 Ultra.  Both cards were being sold at right around the $200 mark, depending on the manufacturer and included bundle, making them attractive options with good price / performance ratios.

What we've got in store for you today is a new take on a not so new GPU.  eVGA's e-GeForce FX 5900 SE card is based on the "new" GeForce FX 5900 XT, which is basically a standard GeForce FX 5900 GPU coupled with slower memory (5900 XT=700MHz / 5900 = 850MHz).  If you find the naming convention between the product title and the chip type to be odd, then you may also be put off by its "XT" tagging as well.  ATi has been using the "XT" moniker for some time, but ATi's XT models in their Radeon 9600 and 9800 lines are generally more powerful versions of the original GPU.  NVIDIA however, has other intentions, as the "XT" in 5900 XT is akin to a "lite" version.  Any way you slice it, the branding of this chipset seems to a bit dubious on NVIDIA's part, as potential buyers may be swayed by the 5900 XT name, expecting it to be an upgrade, rather than a lower end offering versus previous models.

Putting the naming issue aside, we are quite interested to see how this card performs in current games, versus other offerings at its price point, since that's what really matters.   The FX 5900 XT has everything that made the 5900 a solid performer, minus a few clock cycles. These lower clock speeds should allow OEMs to offer competitive mid range performance, with an expected street price of under $200.

Specifications & Features of the 128MB e-GeForce FX 5900SE
An NV35 "lite" model

                            

 
SPECIFICATIONS
  • Graphics Core: 256-bit
  • Engine clock: 400 MHz
  • Memory Interface: 256-bit DDR
  • Memory Bandwidth: 22.4 GB/sec
  • Fill Rate: 3.2 billion pixels/sec
  • Memory Clock: 350MHz
  • Memory Data Rate (effective): 700MHz
  • Memory Included: 128MB 2.8ns DDR
  • Maximum Memory Supported: 256MB
  • Pixels per Clock: 8
  • Textures per Rendering Pass: 16
  • Maximum Resolution: 2048x1536@85Hz
  • Thermal solution: Silent, single-slot heatsink/fan
  • 0.13 Micron Process Technology

2D/3D FEATURES

  • NVIDIA CineFX 2.0 Engine
  • NVIDIA Intellisample HCT Engine
  • NVIDIA UltraShadow Technology
  • Microsoft® DirectX®9.0 Shader Optimizations and Support
  • OpenGL®1.4 Optimizations and Support
  • AGP 8X/4X including Fast Writes and sideband addressing
  • Integrated Dual 400MHz RAMDACs
  • 128-bit, studio-precision color
  • Support for 128/64-bit floating point and 32-bit integer rendering modes

OTHER FEATURES
  • Architected for Cg
  • 64-phase Video Scaler
  • nView Multi-display Technology
  • NVIDIA Video Mixing Renderer (VMR)
  • NVIDIA Digital Vibrance Control (DVC) 3.0
  • True-color 64x64 hardware cursor with alpha
  • Optimized for 32, 24, 16, 15, and 8-bpp modes
  • Multi-Buffering (Double, Triple, and Quad modes)
  • Integrated Full Hardware MPEG-2 Decoder
  • DirectX and S3TC texture compression
  • Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
     


CLICK TO ENLARGE

THE GEFORCE FX 5900 XT
CORE CLOCK: 400MHz
MEMORY CLOCK: 700MHz
FILLRATE: 3.2B pixels/sec
MEMORY BANDWIDTH: 22.4 GB/s


         

         
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

The eVGA e-GeForce 5900 SE has some similarities to their 5700 Ultra that we reviewed earlier, but there are a few differences to point out.  Although the 5900 SE also uses a slim heatsink, it doesn't come with the same thermal sandwich that the 5700 Ultra utilized.  Instead, we have a medium sized heatsink placed over the GPU, with a fan rated at around 6000rpm.  The fan runs very quiet in spite of its high speed, so you won't have to worry about hair-dryer or dust-buster jokes here.  Heatsinks are also placed over the RAM on the front of the card, and the back of the card is left naked.  The lower clock speed of the memory and the inclusion of DDR over DDR2 resulted in less heat being output, which explains the comparatively smaller amount of cooling needed.

         

A 4-pin MOLEX connection will be necessary to power the card, so make sure that your power supply has at least one available.  Externally, the 5900SE can be connected to digital or analog monitors and devices using the DVI-out, 15-pin VGA, or S-Video out ports.  The bundled software and accessories are exactly what we found with the 5700 Ultra.  There was an S-video cable and a DVI-to-VGA converter which can be used for setting up monitors.  The User's Guide was brief and to the point, explaining how the card should be installed and how to use eVGA's ADM software.  The ADM software first checks 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.  By covering all aspects of the driver installation, it ensures that the card is setup and optimized from the get go, which should cause less headaches for less savvy users  The other CDs in the bundle included an NVDVD 2.0 CD, a demo disc with America's Army, and a full version of Ghost Recon.  As a special surprise, a retail version of Call of Duty is also included for a limited time with this product, which should immediately adds some extra value to this card.

Forceware Drivers & Graphic Quality   

Tags:  Nvidia, GeForce, force, fx, XT, id

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