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» Channels :: Graphics Card
MSI FX5900-VTD128
By Vijay Anand
Category : Graphics
Published by Jimmy Tang on Thursday, 1st January, 2004
Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars  


8 Rendering Pipelines - The Way To Go

For the past year, there has been a very distinct line of definition between graphics cards classified as high-end and the rest of them. From our testing and evaluation, we have found every GPU/VPU endowed with eight pixel rendering pipelines to be performing very much better than other GPU/VPU models of the mid and low-end series, which are mostly dominated by chips with four pixel rendering pipelines. Of course, all of these high-end models have also been generously designed to operate with high-speed memory and offer huge memory bandwidth between the graphics card’s local frame buffer and the GPU/VPU.

The earliest graphics card with a combination of these parameters was the ATI RADEON 9700 series and even after more than a year, it is still considered a high-end performer. Today, newer models have depleted that series and the current graphics card entries with eight rendering pipelines and huge memory bandwidth are those based on the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 and the ATI RADEON 9800. Although they carry a heavy price, the recent launch of NVIDIA’s GeForce FX 5950 Ultra (NV38) and the ATI RADEON 9800XT, have helped lower prices of other high-end graphics card models such as the GeForce FX5900, GeForce FX 5900 Ultra, RADEON 9800 and RADEON 9800 PRO. Still, they fetch a price tag only justifiable for those with deep pockets, but for those who can afford them, these entry-level high-end graphics cards make a very good proposition as you will soon find out. In this review, we take a look at the MSI FX5900-VTD128 that is based on the FX 5900 GPU with 128MB DDR memory as well as comparing a number of other graphics card models for a better view of how this GPU stacks up.

You probably won't see a packaging as bold as MSI's graphics card anywhere else.

The primary contender to the GeForce FX 5900 is the RADEON 9800 and surprisingly, they aren’t priced too far apart either. The table below describes the GPU/VPU's specifications compared with other lower-end chips :-

Comparison Table of GeForce FX 5900 And Other GPUs
GPU/VPU NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 ATI RADEON 9800 NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra ATI RADEON 9600 PRO
Core Code NV35 R350 NV35 NV30 NV31 RV350
Manufacturing Process (microns) 0.13 0.15 0.13 0.13 0.13 0.13
Core Clock 400MHz 325MHz 450MHz 500MHz 400MHz 400MHz
Rendering (Pixel) Pipelines 8 8 8 8 4 4
Pixel Fill Rate (MPixels/s) 3,200 2,600 3,600 4,000 1,600 1,600
Texture Units per Pipeline 1 1 1 1 1 1
Peak Texture Fill Rate (Mtexels/s) 3,200 2,600 3,600 4,000 1,600 1,600
Vertex Shaders Array 4 Array Array Array 2
Memory Clock 425MHz (850MHz DDR) 290MHz (580MHz DDR) 425MHz (850MHz DDR) 500MHz (1GHz DDR II) 400MHz (800MHz DDR) 300MHz (600MHz DDR)
DDR Memory Bus 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit
Memory Bandwidth 27.2GB/s 18.6GB/s 27.2GB/s 16.0GB/s 12.8GB/s 9.6GB/s
ATI SMARTSHADER - 2.1 - - - 2.0
ATI SMOOTHVISION - 2.1 - - - 2.1
ATI HYPER Z - III+ - - - III+
ATI TRUEFORM - 2.0 - - - 2.0
NVIDIA LMA II Yes - Yes Yes Yes -
NVIDIA CineFX Engine 2.0 - 2.0 1.0 1.0 -
NVIDIA Intellisample technology Yes (with HCT) - Yes (with HCT) Yes Yes -
Pixel Shader Support 2.0+ 2.0 2.0+ 2.0+ 2.0+ 2.0
Vertex Shader Support 2.0+ 2.0 2.0+ 2.0+ 2.0+ 2.0
DirectX Support Up to DirectX 9.0 Up to DirectX 9.0 Up to DirectX 9.0 Up to DirectX 9.0 Up to DirectX 9.0 Up to DirectX 9.0
FSAA Mode Multi Sampling (up to 8x) Multi Sampling (Up to 6x) Multi Sampling (up to 8x) Multi Sampling (up to 8x) Multi Sampling (up to 8x) Multi Sampling (Up to 6x)
Anisotropic filtering Modes Up to 8x Up to 16x Up to 8x Up to 8x Up to 8x Up to 16x
Other Features
  • NView
  • DVC 3.0
  • Support for NVIDIA Cg
  • Video Shader
  • HYDRA VISION
  • NView
  • DVC 3.0
  • Support for NVIDIA Cg
  • NView
  • DVC 3.0
  • Support for NVIDIA Cg
  • NView
  • DVC 3.0
  • Support for NVIDIA Cg
  • Video Shader
  • HYDRA VISION
  • RAMDAC Dual 400MHz Dual 400MHz Dual 400MHz Dual 400MHz Dual 400MHz Dual 400MHz
    TV Output Int., 1024x768 Int., 1024x768 Int., 1024x768 Int., 1024x768 Int., 1024x768 Int., 1024x768
    TMDS transmitter optional Int. 165MHz optional optional Int. 165MHz Int. 165MHz
    AGP speed 8x 8x 8x 8x 8x 8x
    AGP bus Compatibility AGP 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 AGP 3.0 and 2.0 AGP 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 AGP 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 AGP 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 AGP 3.0 and 2.0

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