The Design What comes to mind when we first had a peek at the graphics card itself was what we think basically is a standard FX 5900 reference design, with a tad slower memory and core and of course "only" has 128 MB memory. Yet it's using that excellent 256-bit memory bus that gives us heaps of memory bandwidth. This is a value GeForce FX 5900. Make no mistake ... this is the 256-bit version. Will there be a significant performance decrease over the high end models ? Well we're gonna find that out, aren't we? The PCB is colored nicely in black, the RAM has been fitted with heatsinks and the cooling is actually identical to the cooling solution that Albatron used on its GeForce FX 5600 series.
Galaxy versus Albatron active cooling
High quality cooling for sure. What's nice to see is that the memory is 2.6ns BGA Hynix memory. BGA stands for Ball Grid Array, it means that the solder connection points joining the memory chips to the module board are spaced over a grid rather than is a straight line (like the traditional memory chips). This design feature actually reduces cross talk of signal information and allows for better routing of the traces. The net result is memory that runs more stablely, cooler and most of all works better with high speed GPUs.
The product is clocked at 390 MHz on the core and 700 for its memory but ... remember that Hynix memory rating ? Let's do a quick calculation:
1000:2.6ns x 2 (DDR) = 769 MHz
This means we can get at the very least another 10% extra free performance out of the memory before we run into problems since the memory is much faster than reference design demands. When we proceed to calculate based on these figures we'll also notice that memory bandwidth is increasing:
(2x256bit) x (2:769MHz) : 8bit = 24.6 GB/sec where reference standard is 22.4 GB/sec.
The Installation It's really not hard to install a graphics card yourself nowadays. Especially with brands like ATI and NVIDIA who use unified driver sets. If you have a really new product then make sure you have the latest drivers on your HD. First uninstall your current graphics cards drivers carefully, this is especially important if the older graphics card was from a different chipset manufacturer. Now power down the PC and pull out the power cable. Insert the graphics card in the slot, secure it with a screw, connect the monitor, boot up Windows, run the driver installation, then restart and you are set to go. That's all. Also important, make sure you have the latest version of DirectX (9) installed.
What's in the box A trend nowadays that I notice a lot is that we see less and less software in the box. It makes sense that manufacturers try to sell the product as cheap as possible as cards have gone into the deep end, price wise.
Including software raises the price, it's as simple as that. Galaxy has a nice bundle for you though.
The bundle includes a driver CD with additional technology demos and one free application, Cyberlink PowerDVD. Also included are three full games, namely GunMetal, Chaser and MotoGP 2. Again, these are all full versions! Next to it we can find a DVI->CRT dongle (to be used for dual monitors that both utilize a CRT connection) and a S-Video & S-Video to Composite output cable.
Galaxy Zeus 5900 XT with the memory sinks ripped off (ahem)
Below, you can notice the differences between the FX 5900XT and the "normal" high end FX 5900 model. There's quite a big difference in memory bandwidth and that will definitely take its toll.
Galaxy Zeus 5900 XT review In a galaxy far far away .. ehm, now wait a minute Hilbert, wasn't that some sort movie ? Yeah true ... but the company who's product we are testing is named after it and we are reviewing their GeForce FX 5900 XT.