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NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT Performance Review
By Vijay Anand
Category : Graphics
Published by Jimmy Tang on Sunday, 30th May, 2004
Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars   (Most Value For Money Award)

The Rebirth of NVIDIA’s GeForce4 Ti 4200

Although the era of the GeForce4 Titanium has long gone past, most PC enthusiasts sorely miss the NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4200 product. It certainly wasn't the fastest nor the cheapest in its heyday, but what it offered was a potent combination of power at a very reasonable price. Also, overclocking was second nature to the GeForce4 Ti 4200 that it was almost as good as the high-end GeForce4 Ti 4600.

Ever since the GeForce FX series replaced the GeForce 4 product lines, there never was an NVIDIA product with the attributes of the GeForce4 Ti 4200 – until now. In our current timeline, we are now seated at a transition phase where the current GeForce FX 5xxx series is being cleared to make way for the upcoming GeForce 6 series and all of a sudden, new GeForce FX 5900XT products quietly slip in to the retail channel. Traditionally, NVIDIA GPU product names appended with 'XT' are known to be much slower variations of those without it. While the 'slower variation' line holds true for the GeForce FX 5900XT, it is only marginally slower than the more expensive GeForce FX 5900 that had been phased out sometime back. So what's the deal here?

When the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT was seeded into the market, the GeForce FX 5700LE and the GeForce FX 5500 also accompanied it. All three variants add on to the existing enthusiast, mainstream and value markets where previous NVIDIA offerings co-exist with these new ones. Part of the reason is because NVIDIA had excess inventories of NV3x GPUs and what better way to clear them for the upcoming GeForce 6 series by introducing a whole slew of graphics card models at attractive price points. Another reason was to better position their products against its competition.

Focusing on the GeForce FX 5900XT, it is based on the full-fledged NV35 core, which is the same eight pipeline GPU found on the GeForce FX 5900 and 5900 Ultra models (both of which have since been discontinued). The reference clock speed specifications for it is 390/700 MHz. The previous GeForce FX 5900 was clocked at 400/800 MHz, so the GPU clock speeds are quite similar, but not the memory. However, testing reveals that the GeForce FX 5900XT hardly differs much in performance from the GeForce FX 5900. Despite the lower memory clock speed on the XT version, it has been optimized for lower latency operation; hence the overall performance differential is small. Finally, the pricing is at a comfortable S$320 - S$380 price point (depending on the card model and its other features/bundles) that most gamers and graphics card enthusiasts are willing to fork out for a good performance card. In the following pages, you'll soon find out how well the GeForce FX 5900XT fares.

Here's the full technical specification list of a typical NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT product:-

NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT 128MB Technical Specifications
Graphics Engine
  • NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT GPU
  • High Precision 3D Rendering Engine
    • 8 pixels per clock rendering engine
    • Full 128-bit Precision Graphics Pipeline
    • Native support for 128-bit / 64-bit floating point and 32-bit integer rendering modes
    • Up to 16 textures per pass
  • CineFX 2.0 Engine
    • Advanced Pixel Shaders allow floating-point pixel shader operations to run 2x faster than CineFX 1.0 Engine.
    • Support for DX 9.0 Pixel Shader 2.0+
    • Support for DX 9.0 Vertex Shader 2.0+
    • Very long pixel programs up to 1024 instructions
    • Very long vertex programs with up to 256 static instructions and up to 65536 instructions executed before termination
    • Subroutines in shader programs
    • Dynamic flow control
    • Procedural shading
    • Z-correct bump-mapping
    • Hardware-accelerated shadow effects with shadow buffers
    • UltraShadow Technology to accelerate shadow  computations
    • Two-sided stencil
    • Keyframe animation
    • Programmable matrix palette skinning
    • Custom lens effects: fish eye, wide angle,fresnel effects, water refraction
  • Intellisample HCT Technology
    • Loss-less Color Compression and Z Compression (up to 4:1 ratio in real time)
    • Fast Z-clear
    • Adaptive texture filtering
    • Dynamic Gamma Correction
    • Fast antialiasing and compression performance
    • High Compression Technology (HCT) increases visual quality at high resolutions with fast performance
  • DirectX and S3TC texture compression
  • Video Mixing Renderer (VMR)
  • DVD and HDTV-ready MPEG-2 decoding up to 1920x1080i resolutions
  • Dual DVO ports for interfacing to external TMDS transmitters and external HDTV encoders
  • Support for dual-link DVI with resolutions support of 1600x1200.
  • High-performance 2D rendering engine
  • Digital Vibrance Control 3.0 (DVC)
  • nView Multi-display Technology
  • Default clock speed in 2D environment: 300/700 MHz (core/DDR memory)
  • Default clock speed in 3D environment: 390/700 MHZ (core/DDR memory)
  • 256-bit  memory interface
  • 22.4GB/sec Memory Bandwidth
  • AGP 8X including fast writes and sideband addressing
  • Advanced thermal monitoring and thermal management
Graphics Memory
  • 128MB DDR SDRAM of 350MHz clock rate (effective speed of 700MHz DDR)
  • Dual 400MHz RAMDACs that support resolutions of 2048x1536@85Hz
Video Decoder / Encoder
  • GPU integrated NTSC/PAL TV Encoder support resolutions up to 1024x768 with built-in Macrovision copy protection
  • Video decoder by optional 3rd party ASIC part.
  • 1x analog RGB connector
  • 1x mini-DIN connector (for Video-out)
  • 1x DVI-I connector (for Digital Flat Panel displays)
  • Driver support for Microsoft Windows 95/98/98SE/Me/NT 4.0/2000/XP, Linux IA32 / IA64 / AMD64 and FreeBSD
  • NVIDIA Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
  • Fully compliant OpenGL 1.5 API and lower suport
  • Complete DirectX support including 9.0 and lower
Other Information
  • AGP 2.0/3.0 slot required
  • 1 PCI-assigned IRQ Required
  • 1 four-pin power connector

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