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BFG GeForce FX 5600

BFG offers an extra 128MB of memory with its FX5600, but is it worth the extra money?

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Introduction


It’s time once again to play the name game with NVIDIA’s video cards! For those playing the home version, today’s contestants are MSI’s Ti4800 SE and BFG’s FX 5600. As you may recall from previous episodes, the Ti4800SE is a Ti4400 with AGP 8X support. The Ti4200 has proven to be a very popular contestant amongst bargain seekers. It’s fast out of the box and overclocks well. Although our review of the Ti4800 didn’t reveal any performance advantage for AGP 8X in today’s crop o’ games, it was still a very good performer at a nice price.

Our new player, the FX 5600, sits about half of the way up the current FX series card lineup. The FX 5200 is the bottom tier, followed by the 5200 Ultra, then by the 5600 (roughly occupying the space previously taken by the Ti4400). By virtue of being an FX and having a higher number in its name, the 5600 should wipe the floor with the Ti4800, right? Not so fast, first we have to show you the specs and drop the annoying game show schtick.


Specifications & Features

  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600
  • Bus Type AGP
  • Memory 256MB DDR
  • Core Clock 325MHz
  • RAMDAC Dual 400MHz
  • API Support DirectX, OpenGL for windows
  • Connectors VGA, DVI, VIVO
  • 81 million vertices/sec.
  • AGP 8X (compatible with 4X AGP 2.0 compliant slots)
  • 4 pixels per clock rendering engine
  • Up to 16 textures per pass
  • Intellisample Technology
  • Video Mixing Renderer
  • Digital Vibrance Control™ 3.0
  • Vertex Shader 2.0+ and Pixel Shader 2.0+
  • Geometry Displacement Mapping
  • NVDVD 2.0 multimedia software
  • Ulead VideoStudio 6 SE video editing software
  • Full installation manual (.PDF) with troubleshooting guide
  • GeForce FX demos
  • VIVO cable

The unique feature of the card is its 256MB of memory. Will it make a difference in today’s games?

The Bundle & The Card


Compared to the bundle included with MSI’s FX 5600-VTDR128 (11 CDs, DVI-I / VGA Adapter, TV-Out / Video-In 1-to-4 Connecting Cable and Infrared Remote Receiver, a remote control, and a case badge, see our review), the bundle of BFG’s 5600 is a tad light. You get:

  • Ulead VideoStudio 6 SE video editing software
  • One CD with:
    • Drivers
    • PDF Installation Manual
    • PDF nView User’s Guide
    • NDVD 2.0
    • GeForce Ti and FX demos
  • Quick Install Booklet
  • DVI-to-VGA adapter (for dual analog monitor support)
  • TV-Out / Video-In 1-to-4 Connecting Cable
  • One BFG case sticker, two NVIDIA stickers

It’s by no means a bad bundle, but it doesn’t do much to distinguish the card from its competitors.

The card is small, smaller than the Ti4800, and features a pleasing dark blue PCB. The other cosmetic feature is that wacky “We’re Committed” guy emblazoned on the GPU fan.


Installation

There’s (thankfully) not much to say here. The card went in, it worked, no drama. And that’s a good thing.

Testing


Test System Configuration

  • AMD AthlonXP 1800+
  • EPoX 8RDA+ Motherboard (nForce2)
  • 256MB Corsair XMS PC3200 DDR SDRAM, 256MB Corsair PC2400 DDR SDRAM
  • NVIDIA Display Driver 44.03
  • NVIDIA nForce Unified Driver Package v2.03
  • DirectX 9.0a

The B3D benchmark suite utilizes 3DMark2001SE to test older DirectX capability and compatibility. We’re not quite ready to use 3DMark03 given all the issues between NVIDIA and Futuremark. Unreal Tournament 2003 is one of the more demanding applications at this time, and it is easy to get consistent benchmark results using UT2K3Bench 1.4. Return to Castle Wolfenstein uses the comparatively ancient Quake III engine, but it can still test a lower-end card, and it wouldn’t be right not to include an id product in a video card review. ;-) Besides, it’s also easy to get great results from RTCW using Q3Bench. Finally, the Comanche 4 demo may not be DirectX9, but it can still kick some video booty.

All tests were run at three resolutions, one time without antialiasing or anisotropic filtering and another with 4x antialiasing and 8x anisotropic filtering.


3DMark2001SE – Build 330

Setting: Default – NoAA, NoAF, Quality Mode
Setting: 4xAA, 8xAF, Quality Mode
Setting: NoAA, NoAF, Quality Mode
Setting: 4xAA, 8xAF, Quality Mode
Setting: NoAA, NoAF, Quality Mode, Max Configuration
Setting: 4xAA, 8xAF, Quality Mode
Setting: NoAA, NoAF, Quality Mode, Shaders Enabled
Setting: 4xAA, 8xAF, Quality Mode, Shaders Enabled

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