With all the talk about the high-end FX5900 cards it is easy to forget that there also is a low-end part, the FX5200. I have taken a look at XFX’s GeForce FX5200 card to see if it is a good replacement for the GF4MX.
When NVIDIA announced the FX family of chips most people were only interested in the high-end chip, the FX5800 Ultra. However NVIDIAs strategy was to bring out an entire family of chips from the low-end to the high-end, all DX9 chips.
The GeFORCE FX5200 is NVIDIAs GF4MX replacement, and today I am taking a look at a card from XFX.
Before we take a look at what XFX ships in the packages let us talk a bit about the FX5200. As I said before it is intended as a replacement for the GF4 MX cards. NVIDIA upset a lot of consumers by naming their low-end card GF4 MX even though it was no GF4-based card. This time NVIDIA does indeed have a low-end card that is built with the same technology as the high-end card (minus some features) but since NVIDIA GeFORCE FX MX would have sounded stupid they choose to just use a number to separate the different models. Isnt it funny that both ATI and NVIDIA now use similar naming? Low-end: Radeon 9200 and FX5200, mid-end: Radeon 9600 and FX5600, high-end: Radeon 9800, FX5800 (ok, it is FX5900 now).
So, what can the FX5200 chip do? Lets look at what XFX says:
- CineFX Engine – Powers cinematic effects beyond imagination. With advanced vertex and pixel shader capabilities, stunning and complex special effects are possible. In addition, increased horsepower delivers faster and smoother gameplay.
- AGP 8X – Provides double the bandwidth of AGP 4X2.1GB/sec. vs. 1.1BG/sec. AGP 8X enables more complex models and detailed textures, creating richer and more lifelike environments. Uninterrupted data flow allows for smoother video streaming and faster, more seamless gameplay.
- nView Multi-display Technology – The nView hardware and software technology combination delivers maximum flexibility for multi-display options, and provides unprecedented end-user control of the desktop experience. NVIDIA GPUs are enabled to support multi-displays, but graphics cards vary.
- Digital Vibrance Control (DVC) – Allows the user to adjust color controls digitally to compensate for the lighting conditions of their workspace, in order to achieve accurate, bright colors in all conditions.
- Unified Driver Architecture (UDA) - Guarantees forward and backward compatibility with software drivers. Simplifies upgrading to a new NVIDIA product because all NVIDIA products work with the same driver software.
- Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0 Optimizations and Support - Ensures the best performance and application compatibility for all DirectX 9 applications.
- OpenGL® 1.4 Optimizations and Support – Ensures the best performance and application compatibility for all OpenGL applications.
- Integrated TV Encoder – Provides best-of-class TV-out functionality for resolutions up to 1024×768.
- Integrated Full Hardware MPEG-2 Decoder – Delivers full-frame, full-screen MPEG-2 video on your desktop.
- New 64-phase Video Scaler – Highest quality for scaling DVD and other video to full-screen HDTV resolutions.
- DVI Support – Able to drive the industry’s largest and highest resolution flat-panel displays with up to 1600×1200 resolution.
- 350MHz RAMDACs – Supports QXGA displays with ergonomic refresh rates.
- Architected for Cg – Ensures that the newest, cutting-edge special effects in applications will run flawlessly. Speeds up content creation so game developers can get their new games out to PC users faster than ever before.
On a more technical front these are the differences between the FX5200 and its bigger brothers:
Remember this is the low-end card so we cannot expect it to have all the bells and whistles of the other cards. This card does have a DVI-connector as well as TV-out. As with all FX5200 chips it is clocked at 250/400 MHz and the memory on this card is 128 MB DDR.
The bundle and the card
The low-end feel of the card is reinforced by the fact that there is almost nothing extra shipped with this card. You get:
- The FX5200
- One CD with drivers and WinProducer 2.1 ME (cut down version)
- 2 good manuals
Thats it. Since the card has a DVI-connector I would have hoped it might have a DVI=>VGA adapter but I guess they saved a few bucks not providing that.
As you can see from the image, the XFX FX5200 is a fanless card. This means that it is completely silent. This is something I know a lot of people will appreciate. Also evident from the image is the fact that the memory chips are not cooled in any way. How this will affect overclocking will be looked at later in this review.
The card also is smaller than the Ti4800SE from Compro which means that it should have no problems fitting into any motherboard.
Before I present the scores, I just once again want to make sure that you understand that this is a GF4 MX replacement. It is not a card for the hard-core gamer.
- Shuttle SN41G2 with nForce2 motherboard
- AMD 2000+XP
- 512 MB PC2700 DDR
- Ti4800SE, GF4MX (128 MB, AGP8, builtin on the nForce motherboard), FX5200
- Drivers: 43.51 (I choose this version since 43.45 has problems with U2k3) and DetFX drivers (for the FX5200 only)
Unfortunately I couldn’t get hold of a ‘real’ GF4MX card in time for this review so I had to use the built-in GF4MX class graphics on my Shuttle nForce2 motherboard. A real GF4MX will score a bit higher in some cases.
Setting: noAA, no AF
Setting: noAA, no AF