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Chaintech Apogee FX71 GeForce FX 5600 Ultra Review

The GeForce FX has recently given nVidia a bad name with various decisions which could have been handled better. Chaintech is a long time supporter of nVidia and has stood by them in thick and thin. Today Cameron "Sov" Johnson takes a look at Chaintech's Apogee FX71 with some amazing cooling technology which is based on the Apogee FX71 core. Can Chaintech help nVidia in the performance department? Read on and find out!
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Published Sat, Sep 20 2003 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:25 PM CDT
Rating: 60%Manufacturer: Chaintech

Chaintech Apogee FX71 - Introduction

IntroductionIt has been a very rough road for the video card giant nVidia for the last year. Not only have they had the fastest 3D solution crown stripped from them by their arch enemy ATI, but they have also copped a huge amount of flack from the hardware community over their choices in technology support and methods of implementation, I am talking about the GeForce FX series of cards of course.nVidia's idea was to take the existing DirectX 9 documentation and specifications and take them one step further, what we saw was a giant leap backwards. Not only was there massive image problems with its drivers and video quality, but its performance was in some stages, worse than the GeForce 4 TI series, the cards the FX's were designed to replace.Despite this, there are a select few who have chosen to stick by nVidia through thick and thin, Chaintech are one of them.Today we take a look at the new Apogee FX71 GeForce FX 5600 Ultra powered video card compared to its competition, the ATI Radeon 9600 Pro.

Chaintech Apogee FX71 - Specification

Specifications of the Apogee FX71Interface AGP interface 4x/8x AGP supportsChipsetnVIDIA GeForce FX5600 Memory128MB DDR SDRAM Generalfeatures 0.13u process technology128-bit memory interface 256-bit graphics architecture325 MHz engine clock570 MHz memory clock 400 MHz internal RAMDAC81 Million vertices/ sec1.3 Billion texels/ sec fill rate9.12 GB/sec memory bandwidth 4 pixels per clock rendering engine16 texels per pixel with 8 textures applied per clockCineFX Shading Architecture128-bit studio-precision color High-performance, high-precision 3D rendering engineHigh-performance 2D rendering engineIntellisample TechnologyAdvanced Display Pipeline with full nView CapabilitiesDigital Vibrance Control (DVC) 3.0NVIDIA nView multi-display technologyUnified Driver Architecture (UDA) High quality video playback Dual, 400MHz RAMDACs for display resolutions up to and including 2048x1536@85Hz Integrated NTSC/PAL TV encoder support resolutions up to 1024x768 without the need for panning with built-in Macrovision copy protection DVD and HDTV-ready MPEG-2 decoding up to 1920x1080i resolutions Support for dual-link DVI for compatibility with next-generation flat panel displays with resolutions greater than 1600x1200 without the need for reduced blanking Full software support Microsoft DirectX optimizations and supportFull OpenGL 1.4 and lower supportComplete support DirectX 9.0 and lower WHQL-certified Windows XP, 2000, ME, 98, 95 15-pin D-sub VGA outTV-out (Mini Din 9pin S-Video connector)VIVO (Mini Din 9pin S-Video connector)DVI-I (DVI-I connector) Heatsink (Optional) Bundled software3DeepWinDVD 6 ChannelWinDVD CreatorWinRipWinProducer 3.0MDK2Game pack (5 in 1) AccessoriesS-Video Cable (150cm)Composite Cable VIVO Cable (4 port)DVI-I to VGA AdapterAnti-Static BrushQ Ball (Monitor Cleaner)

Chaintech Apogee FX71 - Features

Features of the Apogee FX71Package and Contents
First off we take a look at the package. Like 99% of Chaintech's products, the box is huge and eye catching, so you won't have any excuse for not seeing it on the shelves. Chaintech have now moved the Apogee and Zenith names to its video card lines with Apogee being mid-range, Zenith being high end and Summit being budget. The Apogee FX71 for a mid-range card has sure been packed to the hilt. When opening the package you are greeted with the card in an anti-static plastic case which also shows up partly through the front for some eye candy. Under this and the support cardboard, you find your accessories. As standard, Chaintech includes a user manual that is individually targeted at each card, so there is no information in the user manual relating to other Chaintech model cards. A 9 pin S-Video Splitter is included for splitting the S-Video and RCA Video in and out functions. Yes this baby has video in, multimedia enthusiasts rejoice. You also receive one S-Video and RCA cable for either Video in or out, if you want both, you will need to get a second set of cables.
One of the accessories that caught my eye was the Q-Ball and Dust brush. Q-Ball is a static cling ball that is used to remove dust from the monitor screen. This definitely comes in handy for just about anyone, and it does look cool on the top of your monitor. Next is the Dust Brush. This is totally anti-static and is designed for you to clean the fan on your video card and various other components within the PC. Another great idea!
Now since all of the extras have been explained, we will now look at the card itself. Chaintech has gone with a GeForce FX 5800 sized PCB with a total of 6 layers. As you can see, Chaintech has gone all out on the cooling, and with very good reason. Chaintech uses a large ducted cooler on the front of the card and a single low RPM fan in order to cool the rather hot GeForce FX GPU. This comes apart in various layers. First the plastic shroud which is held in with two screws coming through from the back. Once this comes off, the Apogee metal shield also removes. From the back you push 4 pins through, this will release the back plate which cools the rear memory modules. Pushing the pins through the PCB allows for the removal of the ram sinks component. Under the backplate that has been removed are two extra push pins not visible with the shield on. These two hold the heatsink and fan onto the GPU, once removed you are faced with the bare naked chip in all its glory.
Now that we have removed the cooling unit we can take a look at the components. First is the GPU. As you can see the GeForce FX 5600 Ultra writing is on the top of the GPU rather than the bottom like traditional chips. This chip is still the same old 5600 core based on the 0.13um process, just a higher clock speed.Memory wise, well we are in for a treat. Chaintech has elected to go for the highest quality modules, Hynix 2.2ns modules totaling 128MB in a 128-bit wide bus. These modules have reached great speeds in the past on overclocking; let's hope we are in for the same here.OverclockingAs far as overclocking was concerned, it was a 50/50 affair.The GPU was so unstable at anything above 423MHz we wouldn't even call this an overclock at only 23MHz over default. While on the other hand, the Hynix memory was a delight hitting 935MHz DDR without any problems, which is 135MHz over default or almost 17%.

Chaintech Apogee FX71 - Benchmarks - Test System Setup and 3DMark2001SE

Test SystemProcessor: Intel Pentium 4 3.0GHz (800MHz FSB) (Supplied by Spectrum Communications)Memory: Kingmax 2x 256MB DDR-400 (Supplied by Kingmax Australia)Hard Disk: Western Digital WD80 7200RPM (Supplied by Techbuy)Motherboard: Gigabyte 8KNXP I875P (Supplied by Gigabyte)Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP1Drivers: nVidia Detonator FX 45.233DMark2001SE3DMark 2001 SE is a part of the popular 3DMark series. By combining DirectX 8.1 support with completely new graphics (including the GeForce4), it continues to provide benchmark results that empower you to make informed hardware assessments.
In DirectX 8.1 we see that the FX5600 powered Chaintech card collapsing to the Radeon 9600 Pro.

Chaintech Apogee FX71 - Benchmarks - 3DMark03

3DMark033DMark 20003 is the latest instalment in the popular 3DMark series. By combining DirectX 9 support with completely new graphics (including the GeForce FX and ATI Radeon 9800), it continues to provide benchmark results that empower you to make informed hardware assessments.
Here we see that the FX powered Chaintech coming up over the R9600 Pro, however, this benchmark has come under a great deal of criticism so don't take this as a final word.

Chaintech Apogee FX71 - Benchmarks - Code Creatures

Code CreaturesCode Creatures is a Synthetic benchmark based on Direct X 8 which gives users the chance to see another highly involved benchmark program. Focusing on 2 elements Grass and Water video cards are stressed to the limit resulting in quite low scoring benchmarks. Users get to see a more intensive side of DirectX 8 thanks to the engine behind Code Creatures.
Here we see the FX falling once again.

Chaintech Apogee FX71 - Benchmarks - Comanche 4

Comanche 4Comanche 4 is a helicopter simulation using the DirectX 8.1 graphics interface. It is used to test the memory and 3D sub systems of a motherboard and video processor. Any weaknesses will show up through this intensive benchmark.
Again the Chaintech falls due to its core to the Radeon.

Chaintech Apogee FX71 - Benchmarks - Quake 3 Arena

Quake 3 ArenaQuake III Arena is a real-world OpenGL benchmark that we have been using here at TweakTown for quite a while now because it has proven itself to be one of the best gaming benchmarks around to compare a wide range of different products. Quake III is getting very old, but is still the best way of testing video and PC systems for any instabilities and best performance.
Here we don't see as big a gap but the FX powered Chaintech card is starting to falter left right and center.

Chaintech Apogee FX71 - Benchmarks - Jedi Knight II

Jedi Knight II

Jedi Knight II, Jedi Outcast is an OpenGL game that many have been waiting for. It has much improved graphics over its predecessor. It fully supports advanced shaders, as well as very high texture resolutions and effects. There is one demo included in the multi-player section that is good for benchmarking use.







Again we see another win to Radeon's superior engine.

Chaintech Apogee FX71 - Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 2003

Unreal Tournament 2003

Unreal Tournament 2003 continues the success that Unreal Tournament generated as an online game and benchmark. UT2003 pulls all of its weight on to the 3D and Memory subsystems, pushing graphics reality to the maximum is its game, and you need some serious power to gain playable scores with this game.







In our last test we see the FX make a bit of ground up but still loosing to the Radeon.

Chaintech Apogee FX71 - Benchmarks - High Detail

High Detail

All tests were run with 4 times FSAA and 16 times Antistrophic Filtering enabled with the screen resolution set to 1024 X 768 @ 32 Bit.

When running these aggressive detail settings in 1600 x 1200, games really do become unplayable and if people are after image quality they will have to drop the resolution back down to reach playable levels. 1024x768 was chosen as it is still the preferred playable resolution with these settings enabled.







In all three tests the Radeon comes out well in front.

Chaintech Apogee FX71 - Conclusion

Conclusion

Short and sweet, the GeForce FX 5600 Ultra core in all honesty is simply not up to the challenge compared to a much cheaper alternative, the ATI Radeon 9600 Pro. While on paper the FX series looks the goods, its simply too complex to take advantage of any game that is here now and even for some time to come, and with product cycles lasting as long as they do today, its simply a big money drain for nVidia to keep this product up.

While the core was a disappointment, the card is a masterpiece of engineering, The cooling unit was fantastic, keeping very quiet and cooling extremely effective despite the lack of core overclocking, memory overclocking shows that this system can and does work.

The included VIVO system is pretty much the only saving grace this card can have for anyone wanting an FX, but with ATI looking at All-in-Wonder 9600 cards, the FX could soon be out of business.

Overall the cards poor performance overshadows its technically great cooling design.


- Pros
Best cooling solution for FX based GPUs
Very quiet cooling
Great memory overclocking

- Cons
Slower than cheaper Radeon competitor
Price/Performance ratio just not good


Rating - 6 out of 10

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