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Budget VGA Battle - Gigabyte GeForce FX 5500 vs. Radeon 9550 (Page 3)

By: Cameron Johnson from Jul 12, 2004 @ 23:00 CDT
Manufacturer: none

- Cards Compared Continued

Now we see the heart of the action. The FX 5500 core is the same packaging technology that nVidia has used for years, Ceramic Ball Grid Array (CPGA). The FX 5500 core is based on TSMC 0.13um process, so it does run nice and cool. However, nVidia's FX series of chipsets are extremely pumped, so they generate more heat then the competing chips on the market. The heatsink that is included is a Gigabyte Golden Orb style cooler, which makes very little noise - however, in a silent system it would be noticeably audible.

ATI uses its well known Flip Chip Ball Grid Array package or FC-BGA for short. This was introduced with the Radeon 9700 series and has continued in 99.9% of ATI's latest chips (with exception to the 9200 which is C-BGA). This design is based on the 0.13um process too, however being Flip Chip in design it allows the heat to be transferred direct to the heatsink. With the very small amount of heat generated, at stock speeds the 9550 doesn't require a fan which is ideal for those interested in building a silent PC.

The memory on the two cards couldn't be any different if they tried. On the FX 5500, Samsung TSOP-2 modules populate the entire front of the card with none on the back. This does make adding a third party all-in -ne GPU and RAM cooler much easier as all the RAM modules can be cooled actively.

The Radeon 9550 follows the ATI reference design in placing four modules on the front and four on the back. The memory of choice for ATI is Hynix TSOP-2 modules, which have proven to overclock quite well in the past.

- Overclocking

Overclocking was somewhat interesting on both cards. The FX 5500's stock speed of 270/400 was maxed out at 282/468. Even with a different cooler on the GPU, it still wouldn't budge.

ATI 9550 was a totally different story. With the passive cooler and stock speed of 250/400, we were able to push to 270/500. When we swapped out the passive cooler for an active alternative to see what could be done, 310/520 was the maximum obtained - not bad for a budget card.

Let's see how they perform against each other!

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