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NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra Performance Review
By Vijay Anand
Category : Graphics
Published by Jimmy Tang on Friday, 25th July, 2003
Rating : 3.5 out of 5 stars  


NV34 - Cinematic Computing For The Masses

NVIDIA’s NV30 project last year wasn’t all about wringing out a new high-end successor to the GeForce4 Ti 4600, which eventually came out in the form of the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra monster. Initially it awed many, but as more and more thorough tests were being conducted in major review sites including HardwareZone, it ended up looking a little pale against the then reigning RADEON 9700 Pro. Not helping out the situation was NVIDIA’s ‘premature’ drivers that only aggravated the situation.

Although the GeForce FX 5800 and FX 5800 Ultra have conveniently been shelved aside since the inception of its successor, the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra, the effort spent on the NV30 project had not gone to waste. For one, it prompted NVIDIA’s development team on the NV35 project to areas requiring improvements. The outcome, which we have all seen in the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra review, was acceptable depending whether you are fully in favor for raw speed or pure image quality (please read the linked review for a better understanding).

Secondly, NVIDIA made great use of the expensive NV30 core by altering (or more accurately, castrating) the core in ways that would make it a much more viable solution in the mainstream (NV31) and value (NV34) segments. By end of the first quarter of 2003, both NV31 and NV34 had been revealed to the public, just in time to counter ATI’s updated value and mainstream parts. These are now officially known as the GeForce FX 5600 and FX 5200 respectively and have ‘Ultra’ versions just like the high-end cores.


One of the best features about all cards in the GeForce FX family is the presence of the CineFX Engine, which grants DirectX 9 support to NVIDIA’s entire spectrum of graphics card solutions. In this review we will take a close look at the upper-end of the value series and see how it measures up to competing products - the GeForce FX 5200 Ultra solution. Before we move on, you may want to note its specifications in the following table:

NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra Specifications
Graphics Engine
  • NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200 Ultra GPU
  • High Precision 3D Rendering Engine
    • 4 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
  • CineFX 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
    • Two-sided stencil
    • Keyframe animation
    • Programmable matrix palette skinning
    • Custom lens effects: fish eye, wide angle,fresnel effects, water refraction
  • DirectX and S3TC texture compression
  • Integrated NTSC/PAL TV encoder support resolutions up to 1024x768 with built-in Macrovision copy protection
  • Integrated  TMDS transmitters (support of 1600x1200) and external HDTV encoders
  • Video Mixing Renderer (VMR)
  • DVD and HDTV-ready MPEG-2 decoding up to 1920x1080i resolutions
  • High-performance 2D rendering engine
  • Digital Vibrance Control 3.0 (DVC)
  • nView Multi-display Technology
  • Default clock speed in 2D environment: 250/650 MHz (core/DDR memory)
  • Default clock speed in 3D environment: 325/650 MHZ (core/DDR memory)
  • 10.4GB/sec Memory Bandwidth
  • AGP 8X including fast writes and sideband addressing
  • Advanced thermal monitoring and thermal management
  • Microsoft DirectX 9.0 optimizations and support
  • OpenGL 1.4 optimizations and support
Graphics Memory
  • 128MB DDR SDRAM of 325MHz clock rate (effective speed of 650MHz DDR)
RAMDAC
  • Dual 350MHz RAMDACs that support resolutions of 2048x1536@85Hz
Connectors
  • 1x analog RGB connector
  • 1x mini-DIN connector (for TV-output)
  • 1x DVI-I connector (for Digital Flat Panel displays)
Drivers
  • Driver support for Microsoft Windows 98/98SE/Me/NT 4.0/2000/XP, Mac OS 9/X and Linux
  • NVIDIA Unified Driver Architecture (UDA)
  • Fully compliant professional OpenGL 1.4 API with NVIDIA extensions
Other Information
  • AGP 2.0/3.0 slot required
  • 1 PCI-assigned IRQ Required
  • 1 four-pin power connector

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