Introduction to the 5700
The nVidia 5700 card is aimed at the midstream PC market, taking on the ATI Radeon 9600 Pro. When the 5600 core was introduced, we were expecting a more advanced core; however, its design was based on the NV30 core, which had proved to be more problems than it was worth. This time, nVidia has done it right. The NV36 core is based on the 5900 technology with all the 5900 features that has made this card much more popular for the high-end users.
The GeForce FX 5700 shares the same cost effective solutions that the 5600 series did. The 5700 has only half the pipelines as the 5950, just as the 5600 had half the pipelines of the 5800 Ultra. While it has only half the pipelines, nVidia has left the core speed at 475MHz, which is identical to the 5950. One thing that also has somewhat lowered the overall performance expectations is the 128bit memory interface. This has been cut down from the 256bit interface of the 5950. While cutting the memory bus down, DDR2 modules have been chosen as the modules of choice, so a DDR2 memory controller has been installed into the core in order to give it an extra push in the right direction.
The card itself is extremely large compared to its competition, the ATI Radeon 9600 Pro.
The cooling solution that nVidia has chosen for the 5700 is rather large, however, this unit is virtually silent, making it a fantastic effort on nVidia's part to silence its rather loud cards in the past. nVidia also specified a large passive cooling plate on the back of the card to cool the highly clocked memory chips as they tend to get quite hot. Another feature is the retention plate. This is a cross bar with screw threads, this is what is used to secure the front heatsink to the card - gone are the days of the simple plastic push pins.
Here we see the card in its bare form with all heatsinks removed. This gives us a clear view of the memory modules and the GPU itself. nVidia has taken a page from ATI's book in regards to the core. The chip is packaged in a FC-BGA design which allows for much better cooling than pervious GeForce FX cores. This GPU hasn't been packed with any heat plates like the 5900 series has, which allows for much better cooling on the whole. Unlike ATI, nVidia hasn't used any shims which have proven to be a hindrance to proper cooling which is a credit to nVidia.
As mentioned earlier, the GeForce FX 5700 uses DDR2 memory modules as its weapon of choice. nVidia has used Samsung 2.2ns memory modules in a 128bit memory array. These chips are cooled with ramsinks both front and back of the card for the best possible performance and speeds.
Another feature that hasn't changed over the entire FX range is the power consumption and solution. The 5700 chews up more power than the AGP bus 12v supply can deliver. nVidia solved this by adding a 4 pin Molex connector to the back of the card to allow a supply of over 10amps on the 12v rail that the power supply connectors are able to supply with no hassles.
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