So ladies and gentlemen, let's have a closer look at the 5500. At first sight a simple design, the graphics core is based on NV34 so it offers all of the features and in fact is a full DX9 GeForce FX product, it's just slow in gaming. Feature wise all GeForce FX models are the same, it's in the specifications and performance only. Produced around a GPU that is profiled as Cinematic GPU as it is capable of bringing cinematic visual effects on your PC with the combination of some brutal power and an excellent feature set. The CineFX GPU is of course a capable of utilizing DirectX9 Pixel Shaders 2.0+, Vertex Shader 2.0+ and OpenGL. It still has CineFX 2.0, IntelliSample HCT and UltraShadow techiques, but nothing new here feature wise. Forget Anti Aliasing and Anisotropic filtering. You leave this card at default. At 8x6 and 10x7 resolutions you'll still get some decent numbers in older and no too demanding newer games.
The 5500 we received was loaded with memory, 256 MB 128 Bit DDR. So you can store a massive amount of textures in it, yet 256 MB for this product is a bit too much if you ask me. The memory is clocked at a nice 400 MHz (2x200), the graphics core runs steady at 270 MHz.
Now the difference between the 5200 and the 5500 needs to be found a small core frequency increase and a 64/128bit memory bus. The 5200 is often equipped with cheap 64-bit memory where the 5500 handles 128-bit memory at reference standard and thus memory bandwidth is doubled. The 5200 core speeds was 250 MHz and 200 MHz on the memory clock.
Most 5200's use cheap 64bit memory. The 5500 at reference design does 128-bit effective doubling memory bandwidth.
[(2x128bit) x (400MHz:2)] : 8bit = 6400MB/sec [(2x 64bit) x (400MHz:2)] : 8bit = 3200MB/sec
The Bundle For a card that's cheaper than cheap Point of View made a nice package, next to the graphics card you'll find a driver CD, A4 sized manual, SVideo/Composite cables and a DVI to VGA dongle. Not bad. Oh and the driver CD had revision 56.55 drivers on it which is really up-to-date.
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 very important especially if the older graphics was from a different chipset manufacturer. Now power down the PC and pull out the power cable. Insert the graphics card in the slot, 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.
PoV GeForce FX 5500 Review When I first asked NVIDIA about the 5500 they seemed utterly surprised and asked why I was reviewing a 5500. Hey it's a big market and NVIDIA sells more low and mid end products then high-end. So why not ?