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Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Date: 07/08/2004

By: Aleksey Burdyko

Prolink PixelView
GeForce FX 5900XT
Golden Limited
VPU chip NV35
Memory Hynix 2.8 ns
Frequencies 390 MHz / 700 MHz
Category: Middle-End
Price: $210

NVIDIA made an exceptionally good job of its GeForce FX 5900XT chip. NVIDIA has finally made something really mainstream at absolutely affordable prices for retail boards. Video board manufacturers have also appealed to this mainstream solution of NVIDIA. There are no problems with those cumbersome cooling systems like that in GeForce FX 5950 Ultra because of the low clock speeds, the PCB production is very well made, and the wiring for each component is now so familiar. What else do we need to be completely happy? Perhaps a bit of overclocking - a board based on the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT chip is bought mainly with the purpose of further overclocking. In the similarly positioned niche, ATI can offer Radeon 9800SE which in turn is also bought for re-making it into a Radeon 9800 Pro, but unlike NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT the purchase of a board on the base of the Radeon 9800SE chip is sort of a lottery in which the user gets a lower-middle video card in case the "revamping" is unsuccessful. That is why we should keep in mind that not all Radeon 98000SE are equally efficient.

Then it's more interesting to examine a board on the base of the most popular NVIDIA chip when it is not merely "just another variation", but indeed something unique in terms of the technical solution. And it is even more pleasant when the uniqueness relates not only to the cooling system but to other components as well. The product by Prolink is just among those which fall within this group. Well, we'll have enough chances to find out what is there so unique or super-smart in what follows, but for now let's look into the traditional table of NVIDIA solutions produced by vendors:


Product Model GPU DVI TV-Out Video-In
GeForce 6800 Ultra PV-N40UA(256JD) GeForce 6800 Ultra O O x
GeForce 6800 GT PV-N40GA(256JD) GeForce 6800 GT O O x
GeForce 6800 PV-N40A(128JD) GeForce 6800 O O x
GeForce PCX 5900 PV-N38E(128JD) GeForce PCX 5900 O O x
GeForce PCX 5750 PV-N39E(256KD)
PV-N39E(128KD)
GeForce PCX 5750 O O x
GeForce PCX 5300 PV-N37E(128LD) GeForce PCX 5300 O O x
GeForce FX 5950 Ultra PV-N38UA (256JV) GeForce FX 5950 Ultra (NV38) O O O
GeForce FX 5900 MVGA-NVG35BA (w/256M,VIO,DVI) GeForce FX 5900 (NV35) O O O
GeForce FX 5900 MVGA-NVG35BA (w/128M,VIO,DVI) GeForce FX 5900 (NV35) O O O
GeForce FX 5900 MVGA-NVG35BA(LE)
(w/128M,TV,DVI)
GeForce FX 5900 (NV35) O O Option
GeForce FX 5900XT PV-N35XA(128JD) GeForce FX 5900XT (NV35XT) O O x
GeForce FX5900XT Golden Limited PV-N35XAG (128JD) GeForce FX 5900XT (NV35XT) O O x
GeForce FX 5700 PDF PV-N36AG (256KV) GeForce FX 5700 (NV36) O O O
GeForce FX 5700 PV-N36A (256KV) GeForce FX 5700 (NV36) O O O
GeForce FX 5700 PV-N36A (256KD) GeForce FX 5700 (NV36) O O X
GeForce FX 5700 PV-N36A (128KV) GeForce FX 5700 (NV36) O O O
GeForce FX 5700 PV-N36A (128KD) GeForce FX 5700 (NV36) O O x
GeForce FX 5700 LE PV-N36XA (256KV/KD) GeForce FX 5700LE (NV36LE) O O x
GeForce FX 5700 LE PV-N36AX (128KV/KD) GeForce FX 5700LE (NV36LE) O O Option
GeForce FX 5500 PV-N34UA(256KD) GeForce FX 5500 O O X
GeForce FX 5500 PV-N34UA(128KD) GeForce FX 5500 O O X
GeForce FX 5500 PV-N34UA(128LD) GeForce FX 5500 O O X
GeForce FX 5200 MVGA-NVG34AL (W/256M,TV,DVI) GeForce FX 5200 (NV34) O O X
GeForce FX 5200 MVGA-NVG34AL (W/128M,TV,DVI) GeForce FX 5200 (NV34) O O X
GeForce FX 5200 MVGA-NVG34AM (W/128M,TV,DVI) GeForce FX 5200 (NV34) X O x
GeForce FX 5200 PCI MVGA-NVG34P (W/128M,TV,DVI) GeForce FX 5200 (NV34) O O X
GeForce FX 5200 Personal Cinema MVGA-NVG34A+
(w/128M,VIO, Nicam,RC)
GeForce FX 5200 (NV34) O O x
GeForce MX4000 PV-N18BA (128LD/ 128 LT) GeForce MX4000 (NV18B) O O x

As we can see, the whole spectrum of NVIDIA boards is covered, including the latest based on the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra, NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 chips.

NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT Chip

As it is now traditional, let's bring in our detailed table of specifications for the whole top range of the middle-end solutions based on both NVIDIA's and ATI's chips.


Video cards ATI Radeon 9800SE ATI Radeon 9600XT NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra
Code name R350 RV360 NV35 NV36
Chip technology 256 bit
Process technology 0.13 mk
Q-ty of transistors ~107 mln (no precise data available) ~75 mln ~130 mln ~82 mln
Memory bus 256 bit (DDR I) 128 bit (DDR I) 256 bit (DDR I) 128 bit (DDR II/DDR III)
Memory bandwidth 8.8 GB/s 9.6 GB/s 6.4 GB/s 14.4 GB/s
Pixel fillrate - 2.0 Gpixel/s 1.3 Gpixel/s 1.9 Gpixel/s
AGP bus 1x/2x/4x/8x
Memory 128/256 MB
Chip clock speed 380 MHz 500 MHz 390 MHz 475 MHz
Memory speed 340 MHz (680 DDR) 300 MHz (600 DDR) 350 MHz (700 DDR) 450 MHz (900 DDR)
Q-ty of Vertex Pipelines 4 2 3 3
Pixel pipelines 4 (with 4 more disabled programmatically) 4 8 (4) 4 (2)
Textures per pipeline 1 1 1 (2) 1 (2)
Textures per texture unit 16 16 16 16
Vertex shader version 2.0 2.0 2.0+ 2.0+
Pixel shader version 2.0 2.0 2.0+ 2.0+
DirectX version 9.0
Antialiasing modes Multisampling Maximum 6x Multisampling Maximum 6x Multisampling Maximum 4x Mixed modes Maximum 8x Multisampling Maximum 4x Mixed modes Maximum 8x
Anisotropic filtering 2/4/8/16x 2/4/8/16x 2/4/8x 2/4/8x
Memory optimization Hyper Z III+ Hyper Z III+ IntelliSample HCT IntelliSample HCT
Optimizations SmartShader 2.0 SmoothVision 2.1 SmartShader 2.0 SmoothVision 2.1 CineFX 2.0 IntelliSample HCT CineFX 2.0 IntelliSample HCT
Q-ty of monitor outputs 2
Integrated RAMDAC 2 x 400 MHz
External RAMDACs -
Bits per color channel 10
Special features Integrated TV-coder; FullStream Adaptive filtering Integrated TV-coder; FullStream Adaptive filtering Integrated TV-coder; adaptive filtering, DirectX 9+ Integrated TV-coder; adaptive filtering, DirectX 9+

We have already repeatedly examined the specifics of each of the presented chips - so there is not much sense in repeating again.

The Board's Features

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Retail bundle

Inside the sizeable box of Prolink's traditional coloring, we found a lot of curiosity items:

  • The board itself with a monitoring LCD attached thereto;
  • A video cable;
  • DVI-to-D-Sub adapter;
  • S-video to AV adapter;
  • a 4-pin power cable;
  • A cap for fastening a LCD monitor in the 5.25" compartment;
  • An extension cord to connect the monitor and the board (for operations described in the previous item);
  • A lot of varied documentation on both the GeForce FX board and the Prolink produce;
  • 2 CDs for drivers, utilities and a licensed copy of PowerDVD.

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

In view of the specificity of the product - a small LCD monitor - the package bundle proved to be smart enough, however, if you look at the software part of the bundle, we say that it is bottleneck of the Prolink product. No games at all. However, as we already mentioned in our review on the AOpen board built on the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT chip, that is not a problem for the Russian market (however sorrowful, the situation is just this).

Design and layout


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

The exterior of the board immediately catches your eye: its design proved to be very similar to that examined in our review on NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Roundup for the Prolink's video card - Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5700 PDF. Of course, it's not the PCB design, but the design of the cooling system.

However, there are several essential differences. The major one is that in the video card Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited in question, there is a temperature monitoring system dubbed PDF, but on the already examined Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5700 PDF board the hardware monitoring system was of version I. We'll tell more about the differences a bit later, but now let's point to the common aspects.


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

First off, the PCB design in Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited, like in almost all the video cards based on the NVIDIA GeForce FX5900XT chip, has been substantially simplified relative to NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900/NVIDIA GeForce FX5900 Ultra. We have already noted that in our review of the Albatron and AOpen boards based on this chip. Also, the today's Prolink board in question offers somehow low PCB design to arrange a hardware monitoring.

The video card offers a dark blue PCB and 128 MB DDR onboard with a 256-bit data transmission bus (all the 8 memory chips are on the front side of the PCB). Strange is that the board offers blue PCB design, which is not typical of products of such brand. Normally, all Prolink boards are yellow, but here we see a definite departure from the color of the batch. The video card offers the AGP 2x/4x/8x interface and a standard set of outputs: one DVI-I, one analogous, and one TV-OUT.


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

It should be noted that there is not VIVO chip on the Prolink board, which makes this board aimed at those who buy it only for active gaming and prefer to save money on those features which they are anyway unlikely to use. But anyway there is a space on the board for a VIVO chip - it's not a problem to install a Philips chip on the board.


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

The signal shaping on the additional connector for digital monitors is performed not with the customary TMDS-transmitter Sil1162 by Silicon Image, but with the THC63DV164 TMDS-transmitter made by THine.


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Along with this, on the front side of the PCB you can see a connector for additional power supply which is necessary for video cards on the base of NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT. You don't have to apply additional power onto the board, but in this case the card will run at reduced speeds, of which it will honestly report on Windows start-up.


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

There is an advanced BGA-packaging for memory chips made by Hynix (HY5DU283222A). The access time for the memory chip is 2.8 ns, which is equivalent to 350(700) MHz at which the memory runs. The GPU operating frequency amounts to those 390(!) MHz as per the specifications.

If we dismantle the whole cooling system of the board, it would be unfair not to look inside the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT chip. The chip is covered with a lid and, as is seen on the photo, it was manufactured on the 29th week of the year 2003 and has revision A1.

The cooling system for NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT chip on the Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited board is very well made. The lid with which the whole board is covered (like armory for the card) does nothing for cooling, and does not allow using the adjoining PCI-slot. But it looks very nice and of good quality anyway. The radiator on the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT chip is decent enough - together with the superb fine, its efficiency arouses no doubts, but I think many agree it wouldn't be bad if the memory were covered with lids (for instance, take the Albatron).


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

The difference of the new proprietary PDF II technology is the ability to turn the monitor which displays the core temperatures and rotational speeds of the fan on the corners up to 180 degrees.


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

The cap for the 5.25" compartment together with the extended wire to connect to the video card - it's simply a miracle for those who have no PC casing with the lateral transparent wall. It's a pleasure to watch the readings on the LCD monitor.

Tests

Apart from our today's "guinea pig", there were the following video cards tested:

  • Gigabyte GV-N57U128D (NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra);
  • Daytona FX 5700 Ultra ("NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 UItra");
  • HIS Escalibur Radeon 9600XT (ATI Radeon 9600XT);
  • HIS ICQ Radeon 9800 Pro (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro).

All the direct and indirect competitors are there.

Test configuration:

  • Motherboard: MicroStar K7N2 Delta (nForce 2 Ultra 400)
  • Processor: AMD Athlon XP 3200+ Barton (200x11 = 2200 MHz)
  • Memory: 2x512MB DDR PC 3200 Kingston (Dual-channel mode, latency timings 5-3-3-2)
  • HDD: Maxtor Diamond 9 Plus 120 Gb (8 Mb Cache)
  • Video cards:
    • Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited;
    • Gigabyte GV-N57U128D (NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra);
    • Daytona FX 5700 Ultra ("NVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 UItra");
    • HIS Escalibur Radeon 9600XT (ATI Radeon 9600XT);
    • HIS ICQ Radeon 9800 Pro (ATI Radeon 9800 Pro).

Operating system, test software, drivers and settings

Operating system:

  • Microsoft Windows XP SP1 ENG
  • DirectX 9.0b
  • For NVIDIA video cards - ForceWare 56.72 WHQL;
  • For ATI video cards - Catalyst 4.4 WHQL.

We removed all the decorative "niceties" out of the Windows GUI and set the operating system to maximum performance.

Disabled the Vsync forcedly via the drivers both in OpenGL and in Direct3D applications. The S3TC texture compression was also disabled.

Test software:

  • Future Mark 3DMark2003 v340;
  • ToMMTi-Systems ShaderMark v2.0 (a synthetic DirectX 9 HLSL benchmark for pixel shaders);
  • iXBT.com/Digit-Life D3D RightMark (a comprehensive DirectX 9.0 synthetic benchmark);
  • CodeCult Codecreatures v1.0.0 (DirectX 8.1 application, shaders, Hardware T&L);
  • Digital Extreme/Epic Games Unreal Tournament 2003 v2225 (Direct3D, Hardware T&L, vertex shaders, Dot3, cube texturing. "Antalus Flyby" demo);
  • Yeti studious Gun Metal Benchmark 2 v1.20s (DirectX 9.0 benchmark , Vertex Shaders 2.0, Pixel Shaders 1.1, Hardware T&L);
  • Egosoft X2: The Threat (Direct3D, multitexturing, Dot3, the benchmark mode embedded in the demo version);
  • Microsoft HALO: Combat Evolved 1.3 (DirectX 9.0, Vertex Shaders 1.1/1.4/2.0, Pixel Shaders 1.1/1.4/2.0, Hardware T&L, the quality is set to the maximum possible);
  • Massive Development AquaMark 3 (DirectX 9.0, Vertex Shaders 1.1/1.4/2.0, Pixel Shaders 1.1/1.4/2.0, Hardware T&L, AquaMark3 Triscore mode);
  • Valve Software/Vivendi Universal Games Half-life 2 leaked beta (DirectX 9.0, Vertex Shaders 2.0, Pixel Shaders 2.0, default quality, our own recorded demo benchmarks "3Dnews001" and "3Dnews005");
  • Legend Ent./Epic Games Unreal II: The Awakening v1403 (Direct3D, vertex shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, the quality set to that suggested by BenchemAll).
  • Activision Call of Duty 1.1 (OpenGL, multitexturing. The image quality was set to the maximum. Used was one of our own recorded demo reels "3Dnews002" (flying on a rocket in the mp_rocket level));
  • GSC GameWorld / Russobit FireStarter (DirectX 8.1/DirectX 9.0, pixel and vertex shaders, particle system, dynamic lights, projected textures);
  • Core Design / Eidos Interactive Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness v49 (DirectX 9.0, Vertex Shaders 2.0, Pixel Shaders 2.0, defaults quality, "Paris5_4 Demo", "Paris1c Demo" and "Paris2g Demo" were used as the demos);
  • Crytek / UbiSoft FarCry (DirectX 9.0, Pixel Shaders 2.0, quality settings set to the maximum, our own "3Dnews004" demo was used);
  • People Can Fly / DreamCatcher Interactive Painkiller v 1.15 (DirectX 9.0, pixel and vertex shaders (the version not specified), projected textures, dynamic pixel-wise shading, DOT3 bump mapping etc.);
  • Ubisoft Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (DirectX 8.1, version 1.1 pixel shaders, multitexturing);
  • CDV Software Entertainment / Brat Designs Breed (DirectX 8.1, version 1.1 pixel and vertex shaders, stencil shades, Bump mapping).

2D Quality

Prior to giving the estimate of image quality achieved by Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited video card, we again and again remind it that to date it is impossible to give more or less impartial estimate of this parameter for a series of video cards, since the 2D quality strongly depends on a particular specimen, and it is impossible to check all the cards for known reasons. The 2D quality also depends on the monitor and connection cable which in turn results in a lack of impartial estimate into the methodology of assessing a given parameter.

The 2D quality shown by the board at 1024x768x85Hz and 1280102460Hz resolution can be characterized as superb. No noticeable deviations in the image quality were found.

Benchmarking Results

Synthetic benchmarks

Following the tradition, we start with our substantially amended benchmarking package.

Codecreatures


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

3DMark 2003 v340


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Real-world gaming applications

From synthetic applications, we are now moving on to analyzing the performance of the graphic boards in real gaming applications.

Unreal Tournament 2003


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Unreal II: The Awakening


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Call Of Duty


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

X2: The Threat


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Gun Metal Benchmark 2


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

HALO: Combat Evolved


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Half-life 2 Leaked Beta


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

FireStarter


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

FarCry


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Painkiller


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Breed


Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited

Findings

The results of performance tests do not add any new information - the frequencies of Prolink PixelView GeForce FX 5900XT Golden Limited are standard for a board built on the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900XT chip, so there is nothing more to add regarding the alignment of forces among the existing solutions - all is clear.

But the attraction of this board is not in that. The smart solution in the form of a small LCD monitor to keep track of the graphic chip temperature and the rotational speed on the GPU fan - that's what makes this card stand out among other similar but featureless products of other manufacturers. This novelty is a real spice which makes the card worth of buying. But will there be enough people willing to buy this solution? For evident reasons, the price of the board is within the reasonable price tag for a board built on the GeForce FX 5900XT chip - and we are very well aware that manufacturers and sellers did not miss a chance to add to extra charge for the novelty. Nevertheless, the pleasure of using such a device should overlap all the price shortcomings - the manufacturing quality is on par, the card showed good stability during 3D tests for long hours, and of course it offers a fantastic exterior with the monitoring options.

VGA Roundup `2003:

VGA Roundup (joint tests)
NVIDIA VGA Roundup `2003
ATI VGA Roundup `2003

Read more on this topic:

ATI Radeon X800 XT
ASUS V9950 Gamer Edition
MSI FX 5700 Ultra/NonUltra
Gigabyte GV-N595U-GT (NVIDIA FX5950 Ultra)
GeXcube Radeon 9600XT Extreme
ASUS Radeon 9600XT
NVIDIA FX5700 Ultra
MSI GeForce FX 5950 Ultra
3DMark2003 build 320 vs 340: A rare moment of truth?
ForceWare 52.16 tests: FX 5900 versus Radeon 9800Pro
ASUS RADEON 9800 XT: a turning point
Tests of ATI Radeon 9800 PRO video cards
FX 5900 versus Radeon 9800Pro
FX 5600Ultra versus Radeon 9600Pro
FX 5200 versus Radeon 9200

Forum:

3DMark2003 build 320 vs 340: A rare moment of truth? ( 2 4 4 5)
Discussions of drivers for NVIDIA cards ( 2 3 4 5 ... 16 17)
Discussions of drivers for ATI cards ( 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 23 24)
Please help choose - FX5900XT or 9800Pro?
Choosing a video card at $200 and higher ( 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 15 16)

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