GeForce FX5600’s roots
NVIDIA’s GeForce4 Ti 4200 ushered in a new level of performance to the mainstream PC graphics segment when it was introduced last year. Ultimately designed to fill the gap between GeForce3 Ti 500 and GeForce4 Ti 4400, the Ti 4200 was an accidental smash hit for NVIDIA. Accidental? We use the term seriously because the GeForce4 Ti 4200 was literally drawn up at the last minute by NVIDIA’s marketing department.
Originally NVIDIA had planned to release two GeForce4 Titanium variants, but when ATI announced price cuts for its RADEON 8500 family, the GeForce4 Ti 4200 was commissioned to take on ATI’s RADEON 8500LE. The rest as they say, is history.
NVIDIA has been riding its Ti 4200 horse for all its worth too. When ATI released its RADEON 9700 PRO, NVIDIA exploited ATI’s weakness in the mainstream segment by introducing the GeForce4 Ti 4200-8X. When ATI countered by filling the gap between RADEON 9000 and RADEON 9700 with the RADEON 9500 series, NVIDIA’s board partners introduced their second generation of GeForce4 Ti 4200-8X cards, driving Ti 4200 prices down even further. Many even introduced Ti 4200 cards at higher clock speeds than default, the ASUS V9280S and ABIT GF4 Ti 4200 OTES were two such cards that we reviewed last year.
Ultimately though, NVIDIA needed a DirectX 9 part to compete head-to-head with ATI’s latest mainstream offerings successfully. Enter the GeForce FX 5600 family.
GeForce FX 5600 makes its debut
First introduced at GDC in March, the GeForce FX 5600 isn’t quite the same as NVIDIA’s previous mainstream introductions in the sense that it’s based on an entirely new graphics core. Previous mainstream cards were simply lower clocked versions of NVIDIA’s flagship, just look at the GF4 Ti 4200 and GeForce3 Ti 200 as the most recent examples. NVIDIA’s strategy with GeForce FX 5600 is to offer a product that supports all the functionality of its flagship product, but with lower performance and that’s cheaper to manufacture.
As the successor to GeForce4 Ti 4200, GeForce FX 5600 has some pretty big shoes to fill. To accomplish this at the lower half of the mainstream segment (the $150 price point), NVIDIA offers GeForce FX 5600. We’ve found that this GPU falls short of carrying out its objective in games that used multi-texturing extensively; the GeForce FX 5600 just doesn’t have the texel fill rate. Once anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering are turned on however, GeForce4 Ti 4200 is quickly left in the dust: Mission #1, surpassing GeForce4 Ti 4200 is accomplished, although it isn’t an overwhelming victory.
For its second assignment, taking on ATI’s high-end mainstream offerings (RADEON 9500 PRO/9600 PRO), NVIDIA relies on GeForce FX 5600 Ultra. This is where the real battle begins, and if you enjoy drama, it’s a very interesting story. You see, NVIDIA initially introduced a 350MHz GeForce FX 5600 Ultra to compete against ATI RADEON 9600 PRO. Benchmarks with these early cards were quite disappointing to many enthusiasts.
Since then, NVIDIA has gone back to the drawing boards, tweaking its GeForce FX 5600 Ultra formula for added performance. We’re here today to provide you with benchmarks of this GeForce FX 5600 Ultra “2.0” so to speak in the form of eVGA’s e-GeForce FX 5600 Ultra. Read on to see how it stacks up against the competition!