Chaintech GeForce FX 5700 Ultra - nVidia's mainstream VGA fighter

Yesterday we compared the performance of nVidia's GeForce FX 5950 Ultra against ATI's Radeon 9800 XT. Today we step down a class to the mainstream segment and put nVidia's GeForce FX 5700 Ultra, in the form of the AA5700U from Chaintech, against ATI's Radeon 9600 XT. Let the mainstream VGA battle begin!
Cameron Wilmot
Published Mon, Feb 9 2004 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:26 PM CDT
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: Chaintech

Chaintech 5700 Ultra - Introduction

IntroductionAsk anyone, there are no doubts that the fight is on more than ever between nVidia and ATi - and not just for market dominance of the high-end and enthusiast ranges like we've experienced many times in the past but the entire range, top to bottom from low-end to top of the range. This is made blindingly obvious just by talking with distributors and retailers.Starting from the bottom we have nVidia with their GeForce FX 5200 and ATi with their Radeon 9200 in the low-end department. Scale up to the mainstream side of things and we have nVidia with their GeForce FX 5700 and ATi with their Radeon 9600 and a whole bunch of other variants which probably would have caused Albert Einstein to generate a confused-looking face from such complexity. Then, of course, we enter the high-end and enthusiast ranges with nVidia's GeForce FX 5900 and ATi with their 9800.Each market segment is occupied by a strong product from either company which makes life interesting for anyone involved in the industry - seller or buyer - and today our main focus is the mainstream segment, the biggest seller for both chip companies and their partners. Today we're going to put Chaintech's brand new AA5700U graphics card based on nVidia's mainstream GeForce FX 5700 Ultra chip with 128MB of DDR-II memory up against a reference version of ATi's Radeon 9600 XT.Let's roll on and work out where your dollars will be best spent for those who have a bit of a budget to work with!

Chaintech 5700 Ultra - The Package

The PackageBefore we jump into the all important benchmark numbers, we'll take a look at just what is included inside the package of the AA5700U from Chaintech.
For a mainstream product, the included package of goodies was vaster than I expected before ripping open the box. Let's see what we've got here:- Software and GamesAs far as software goes, you get a total of three CDROM's including Chaintech's own Graphics Overclocking System Utility or "GOSU" and 3Deep as well as Win Cinema 2.0 which includes full versions of WinDVD 4, WinDVD Creator and WinRip as well as Win Producer 3.0 with your very own serial codes.On the gaming side of things you are given a CDROM entitled "Game Pack V1.0" which includes Age of Wonders 2, Serous Sam 2, Rally Trophy, Max Payne and Tropico. Added to the bunch you get one of nVidia's "The Way It's Meant to be Played" titles, Commandos 3 by Eidos - mind you, it's the full three CD version.- Chaintech Graphics Overclocking System UtilityJust before we move onto the other parts of the package, I want to spend a few moments talking about the Graphics Overclocking System Utility (or "GOSU" for short) by Chaintech.
GOSU is a simple program which is included in the package at no extra charge which works with nVidia based graphics card giving you the ability to adjust core and memory speeds with ease and instantly, without the need to reboot your system.The GUI looks very nice and works very well with preset options for 2D and 3D computing. Just choose what clock speeds you want and click the "Go" button and the new clock speeds are put into place immediately.We'll talk more about the overclockability of the graphics card later on in the review.- Cables In the cable department we get your usual array of cables for modern day graphics cards including green DVI to VGA adapter, S-Video to RCA cable, short S-Video cable for TV playback and a splitter power cable for the required onboard power of the graphics card.These included cables should be all you need for all your VGA and TV playback needs.- "Is it a stress ball?!"
You may have noticed the green ball in the photo above. We first thought it might be a stress ball and we were utterly wrapped by the consideration by the folks from Chaintech in Taiwan for sending us such a toy knowing just how stressful running a tech site can be.On closer inspection we soon discovered we didn't have a stress ball on our hands but a fancy monitor cleaning device, and a very good one at that. It doesn't look like much but it is the most effective surface I have used for monitor cleaning in years - and I've used many a device in the search for the ultimate cleaner. It does a fantastic job on both CRT and LCD displays. That search is now over.Brilliant thinking Chaintech - it's definitely a first for me and a big pro! We found it doubles well as an office toy to throw at people, too.

Chaintech 5700 Ultra - The Card

The CardNow we've finished looking at the interesting package provided, let's take a closer look at the important part - the graphics card.When I first saw Chaintech's line of golden graphics cards back in September last year at Computex in Taiwan, I was impressed from the very first minute - as were the other people standing around at the stand. Ever since I can remember, Chaintech has produced a product which not only works well but looks very appealing to the eye - and the AA5700U graphics card is no different.
It's amazing to reflect for a few moments and consider how far things have come since the years when companies like Cirrus Logic and S3 (and even 3DFX in the early days) ruled the graphics game with the plain and boring brown PCB which was accepted - not by choice - but since users had no other option. Try and do something like this in this day and age and you'll likely be left behind for the companies like Chaintech who go the extra mile to please the customer's eye and computing experience.- Size: It's a monster!For a minute, let's take our focus away from the visual appeal of the graphics card and look at the size of the thing. It is the same size (length and width) as the monster-sized high-end GeForce FX 5900 and 5950 reference cards from nVidia.While this should not be considered as a bad thing as far as design goes, you have to remember that if you intend on using the card in a Small Form Factor case like those from Shuttle, you will have less room to play with due to the extra length of the card. It is roughly a solid 25% larger than the 9600 XT reference card from ATI which we are comparing to against today.
As you can see from the two shots above, the core as well as the memory chips on both sides of the card is cooled - actively on the front and passively on the back with the classy golden heatsink which we will talk more about shortly.- Back Panel: Gold all the way
In the shot above we can see the back panel of the card, which is also golden in color. It features your usual connectors you would expect from a mainstream graphics card today - DVI, VGA and S-Video connectively.- The HeatsinkIn the shot below you get a closer look at the sexy dual fan heatsink design by Chaintech. Not only does it look sensational but it works very well when it comes to overclocking. The heatsink is very solid and heavy - it is constructed with a solid material, probably steel, which is able to dissipate heat from the core and memory effectively.
Included near each fan are blue LEDs which emit a powerful light. The only problem with this is the blue light effect is emitted toward the bottom of the case and you aren't able to see it. The only way you'll be able to gain any effect from this is using a desktop ATX case rather than a tower ATX case which most (if not all) enthusiasts use these days. Nevertheless, the effect looks pretty nifty but unfortunately is all but wasted for users of tower cases apart from the slight blue glow emitting below the card.Now we've finished looking at the package and card, let's move onto the benchmarks!

Chaintech 5700 Ultra - Benchmarks - Test System Setup and FutureMark

Test System SetupProcessor: Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz (533MHz FSB) (Supplied by Spectrum Communications)Memory: 2x Kingmax 512MB DDR500 (Supplied by Kingmax Australia)Hard Disk: Seagate 7,200 RPM SATA (Supplied by Seagate)Motherboard: DFI 865PE LANPARTY (Supplied by DFI)Graphics Cards: Chaintech GeForce FX 5700 Ultra 128MB (Supplied by Chaintech) and ATI reference 9600 XT 128MB (Supplied by ATI)Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP1Drivers: ATi Catalyst 4.10 and nVidia Forceware 53.03For comparison sakes we've compared the retail version of nVidia's GeForce FX 5700 Ultra against ATI's reference version 9600 XT, both with 128MB of memory onboard, which carry similar retail price tags from their various partners at retailers around the world.We've included two sets of results for the Chaintech card - default speed and recommended "3D" overclocking speed (546MHz DDR core and 1041MHz DDR memory) through Chaintech's included overclocking program, GOSU. Additionally we've included a separate set of overclocking results under 3DMark2001 SE (on the next page) that highlights the performance under the most extreme yet stable settings we could achieve.It is very important to keep in mind that the reference sample we have here from ATI is an early reference sample running at the default speeds of 500MHz DDR core and 594MHz DDR and is also not optimized to the same extent as the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra from Chaintech. Some of the fastest 9600 XT cards on the market, from companies like GeCube, operate at 700MHz DDR memory. Please keep this in mind when viewing the results here on in!3DMark2001 SE3DMark2001 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 our first set of benchmarks for the day we can see the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra has around an 18% lead over the 9600 XT in the popular DX8.1 benchmark.3DMark033DMark03 is the latest version of the highly favored 3DMark series. By combining full DirectX9.0 support with completely new tests and graphics, 3DMark03 continues the legacy of being industry standard benchmark.Please Note: Due to recent events with the 3DMark03 series, we are adding results purely for those who are still in favor of 3DMark03. These results should not be taken too seriously and are only added for interest sakes.
In our first DX9 benchmark we see the lead the GeForce FX has over the XT decreased by almost 8% showing that ATI has improved their DX9 performance with only little difference between the two chips.3DMark03 crashed repeatedly with the Chaintech recommended overclocked settings, as you can see by the 0 result in all the graphs. This was the only program we experience stability problems with.

Chaintech 5700 Ultra - Benchmarks - Overclocking and Aquamark 3

Overclocking Results - 3DMark2001 SEThe maximum stable overclock we were able to obtain under FutureMark's 3DMark2001 SE benchmarking program was 585MHz DDR on the core (which is 110MHz DDR over default) and 1060MHz DDR on the memory (which is 154MHz DDR over default).This is one of the first positive signs we see from the implementation of DDR-II memory - the scalability of the memory clock in the way it allowed us to ramp up the clock speed to what we achieved - a fairly handsome number.To give you an idea of overclocking performance, we used 3DMark2001 SE at 1024 x 768 x 32-bit color with AA and AF disabled.
We obtained a welcomed 7% or so increase in performance over the default speeds and around a 1.5% increase in performance over the Chaintech recommended overclocked settings. Free performance... that's what we're all about!Aquamark 3Aquamark3 is the latest installment of the Aquamark benchmark suite. This new benchmark is much more powerful and demands much more from both the system and the graphics card. If there is any weakness in the system or 3D components, Aquamark3 will find them.
Under the fully DX9 compliant Aquamark 3 benchmark, the performance of the 9600 XT is only a little over 10% slower than the GeForce FX.As far as factorization goes, the results are on par with 3DMark03.

Chaintech 5700 Ultra - 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 subsystems of a motherboard and video processor. Any weaknesses will show up through this intensive benchmark.
Under the almost-always-unpredictable Comanche 4 demo benchmark, the results are much closer between both products.

Chaintech 5700 Ultra - Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 2003

Unreal Tournament 2003Unreal Tournament 2003 continues the success that Unreal Tournament generated as an online game and benchmark. UT2003 pulls all of its weight onto 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.
This time it is ATI's time to shine with a big lead of almost 20%.

Chaintech 5700 Ultra - Benchmarks - Quake III Arena

Quake III 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 one of the best ways of testing video and PC systems for any instabilities and best performance.
nVidia takes back the lead under Q3A with around a 10% lead.

Chaintech 5700 Ultra - Benchmarks - Jedi Knight II

Jedi Knight II - VIA ArenaJedi Knight II, Jedi Outcast is an OpenGL game that many have been playing of late. It has greatly improved graphics over its predecessor and 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.
nVidia's lead increases this time to around 12% over the 9600 XT.

Chaintech 5700 Ultra - Benchmarks - High Detail AA and AF

High Detail AA and AFAll tests were run with 4 times FSAA and 8 times Antistrophic Filtering enabled with the screen resolution set to 1024 X 768.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.
On average, the performance hit with AA and AF enabled was almost 19% with one peak near almost 40% under Q3A.

Chaintech 5700 Ultra - Conclusion

ConclusionChaintech has gone and taken the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra GPU from nVidia and converted it into a work of art with some real love and care put into the mix from a group of talented Taiwanese engineers who obviously have a passion about the thing they do. The entire product from package contents to the beautiful looking graphics cards is brilliant and very well thought out.On the performance side of things, the overall numbers are very respectable for a mainstream graphics card with around a 10% lead of the Radeon 9600 XT reference card from ATI. Taking ATI's side for a moment, you will find retail 9600 XT cards will reduce the performance gap to a level which could almost be considered unimportant.On the price side of things the price on GeForce FX 5700 Ultra and Radeon 9600 XT retail cards from various manufacturers are about the same, as seen here and here on Deal Time from both nVidia and ATI.Overall we've got a product on our hands from Chaintech which looks sensational, performs well for the price in all modern games, offers decent overclocking performance and comes with a package which should please anyone on the market for a mainstream graphics card and most importantly will not break the bank. We've got a true beauty on our hands here!- ProsAffordableGood performance to price ratioLooks absolutely sensational!Good cooling and overclocking through GOSUFancy monitor cleanerSolid package- ConsSize may cause problem in Small Form Factor systemsRating - 9.5 out of 10 and TweakTown's "MUST HAVE" Features Award

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Cameron founded TweakTown in 1999 after it originally started off as his personal homepage. Cameron was once, many years ago, the only person at TweakTown producing content, but nowadays, he spends his time ensuring TweakTown operates at its best in his senior management role.

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