IntroductionI must admit that recently I've neglected to think about the existing crop of well established GPUs that the market has rightly enjoyed, in favour of concentrating on all that's bright and beautiful in the new high-end sector.
But mixed in among a veritable plethora of new parts to evaluate on my testing shelf, sit a triplet of resolutely mass market boards from a triplet of board vendors. With two of those board vendors new to sampling us with graphics cards, the chance to re-evaluate the mass market mid-range using current drivers, current pricing and a new suite of benchmarks wasn't to be missed.
So today's review marks the first in a two part series looking at three very different boards from three very different vendors, but whose products sit in the same price range and performance sector. They might be the last few AGP-based mid-range cards that I evaluate, since we've pretty much covered the rest, but it refreshes my perceptions on what's out there, and it hopefully gives the astute HEXUS reader a current look at what's available in this part of the market, should they wish to shop there.
The market sector I'm talking about is occupied by NVIDIA's 5700 and 5900XT, along with ATI's 9600-based range. That encompasses a few GPU variants, from 5700 and 5700 Ultra to 9600 Pro and 9600 XT, with everything in between. With there being a million and one generic examples out there, we chose three examples from the range that are hopefully a little different from your white box fare. Something to catch your eye or match a specific feature point that you need.
Anyway, enough waffling, onwards to the first of the trio.
Albatron's FX5700P TurboAlbatron are definitely more well known for their above average mainboards, rather than their graphics cards. However they're NVIDIA board partners and pump out a range of cards based on the Californian GPU giant's wares. They might not sell tens of millions like ASUS or MSI, but they've got something for everyone.
Today's first review focus is the FX5700P Turbo. It doesn't take a degree in English and Computer Science to work out that it's powered by NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5700 GPU, but the Turbo nomenclature offers up hope that Albatron serve the 5700 with a twist.
NVIDIA's laid out basic specs for the 5700 (non-Ultra) call for 425MHz GPU frequency and 500MHz memory on a 128-bit bus. Using NV36, that means a 4-pixel render pipeline, hardware vertex shader, 3 ALUs (one full, two small) per pixel shader unit, of which there's one per pipeline and dual 350MHz RAMDACs, to name but a few of the base features.
Clocked at 425MHz gives you 1700Mpixels/sec and 1700Mtexels/sec of pixel and texturing fillrate. The memory clock at 500MHz gives you a slightly underwhelming 8GB/sec of GPU-to-memory bandwidth.
Albatron aren't interested in following the basic specs too much though. So while they keep the core clock at 425MHz, the memory runs at 650MHz on the P Turbo, for 10.4GB/sec or a full 30% increase over basic spec.
It's no 5700 Ultra (475MHz core, 900MHz memory), but it's usefully inbetween that and a basic 5700. Those looking for passable performance at a low price may very well be interested.
Let's examine the card itself.