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Leadtek WinFast A340 PRO TD (GeForce FX 5500)
By Vijay Anand
Category : Graphics
Published by Jimmy Tang on Wednesday, 20th October, 2004
Rating : 4 out of 5 stars  


NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 On Steroids

In NVIDIA's entry-level graphics chip segment, the GeForce FX 5200 GPU has long been their mainstay and it was with good reasons too. For one, it was the only low-end graphics processor to support Microsoft's DirectX 9 standard and in fact, it even exceeded the required specifications. We are all well aware that this entry-level GPU does not have enough horsepower to deliver complex games that take advantage of this standard, however to the game developers, it means a whole different thing.

At any point of time, the user base with entry-level graphics cards outnumber users with mainstream and high performance graphics cards and that's simply because off-the-shelf PCs are mostly configured with cost effective low-end cards. Game developers will always take note of PC standards of the largest common user base (with decent specifications) to ensure that their games will work on most of these PCs. It won't do them any good if they tailor it for the latest system specs, only to face the situation of poor sales because most people will not overhaul their systems for just one recreational game. Conversely, they'll have a tough time promoting their game if it looks outdated, even though the game could be handled by even the oldest integrated graphics chipset. In the case of the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 GPU, it is rather widely used in a number of ready-made and simple DIY personal computers. Even the latest Apple computers use a faster variant of the GeForce FX 5200 GPU, which is the GeForce FX 5200 Ultra. With a large user base that already has a DirectX 9 capable graphics processor, more and more developers would be inclined to exploit the programmable nature of this standard for more realistic games and today, we are slowly seeing such 'interactive' games made available in e-boutiques and other retail entertainment outlets.

To step up the entry level graphics card standard, NVIDIA announced the GeForce FX 5500 GPU at about the same time frame as the GeForce FX 5900 XT was made available. The GeForce FX 5900 XT made it to the retail segment almost immediately after the launch, but the GeForce FX 5500 was more of an OEM part initially, which eventually made its way to the shop front as well. Unlike ATI's new RADEON 9250 entry-level part that is actually slower than the existing RADEON 9200, NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5500 had a 20MHz clock speed increment. Although it wasn't a huge step forward, at least it wasn't any slower!

GPU/VPU Core Comparison
GPU/VPU NVIDIA
GeForce FX
5500
NVIDIA
GeForce FX
5200
ATI
RADEON
9600SE
ATI
RADEON
9200
ATI
RADEON
9250
Core Code NV34 NV34 RV350 RV280 RV280LX
Manufacturing Process (microns) 0.15 0.15 0.13 0.15 0.15
Core Clock 270MHz 250MHz 325MHz 250MHz 240MHz
Rendering (Pixel) Pipelines 4 4 4 4 4
Pixel Fill Rate (MPixels/s) 1,080 1,000 1,300 1,000 960
Texture Units per Pipeline 1 1 1 1 1
Peak Texture Fill Rate (Mtexels/s) 1,080 1,000 1,300 1,000 960
Memory Clock 200MHz
(400MHz DDR)
200MHz
(400MHz DDR)
182.5MHz
(365MHz DDR)
200MHz
(400MHz DDR)
200MHz
(400MHz DDR)
DDR Memory Bus 128-bit 128-bit or 64-bit 64-bit 128-bit 128-bit or 64-bit
Memory Bandwidth 6.4GB/s 6.4GB/s or 3.2GB/s 2.9GB/s 6.4GB/s 6.4GB/s or 3.2GB/s
NVIDIA CineFX Engine 1.0 1.0 - - -
NVIDIA LMA II II - - -
ATI SMARTSHADER - - 2.0 1.0 1.0
ATI SMOOTHVISION - - 2.1 1.0 1.0
ATI HYPER Z - - III+ II II
Pixel Shader Support 2.0+ 2.0+ 2.0 1.4 1.4
Vertex Shader Support 2.0+ 2.0+ 2.0 1.0 1.0
DirectX Support Up to DirectX 9.0 Up to DirectX 9.0 Up to DirectX 9.0 Up to DirectX 8.1 Up to DirectX 8.1
FSAA Mode Multi
Sampling
(up to 4xS)
Multi
Sampling
(up to 4xS)
Multi
Sampling
(up to 6x)
Super
Sampling
(up to 6x)
Super
Sampling
(up to 6x)
Anisotropic filtering Modes Up to 8x Up to 8x Up to 16x Up to 16x Up to 16x
Other Features
  • NView
  • DVC 3.0
  • NVIDIA Cg
  • NView
  • DVC 3.0
  • NVIDIA Cg
  • VIDEOSHADER
  • HYDRAVISION
  • TRUEFORM 1.0
  • VIDEO IMMERSION II
  • FULLSTREAM
  • HYDRAVISION
  • TRUEFORM 1.0
  • VIDEO IMMERSION II
  • FULLSTREAM
  • HYDRAVISION
  • RAMDAC Dual 350MHz Dual 350MHz Dual 400MHz Dual 400MHz Dual 400MHz
    TV Output Int., 1024x768 Int., 1024x768 Int., 1024x768 Int., 1024x768 Int., 1024x768
    TMDS transmitter Integrated Integrated Int. 165MHz Int. 165MHz Int. 165MHz
    AGP speed 8x 8x 8x 8x 8x
    AGP bus Compatibility AGP 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 AGP 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0 AGP 3.0 and 2.0 AGP 3.0 and 2.0 AGP 3.0 and 2.0

    Since ATI did not have any true entry-level DirectX 9 compliant part, they have crippled their RADEON 9600 VPU, especially in the memory bandwidth arena and have been offering them as the RADEON 9600SE. At its specifications, it is actually not much faster than the the RADEON 9200, but it is a direct competitor to the GeForce FX 5500 as far as the price bracket is concerned. Unfortunately, we do not have the RADEON 9600SE at hand to give you a direct comparison, but since this isn't a graphics chip shootout, that's not a concern at the moment. Read on as we show you Leadtek's GeForce FX 5500 product on the following page and how it fared.

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