Technologies ASYLUM GeForce FX 5700 Ultra Review - Page 2 Of 9
By Clay Angelly - October 23, 2003
As you can see, this box isn't sporting the insane bald
guy which adorns most of the BFG product line. The packaging is still nice
though and what you'd come to expect from a quality vendor.
Replaced By A Glowing Orb
BFG continues to use
the plastic shell encasing to keep the card safe and secure. You can see some
other photos of this plastic shell in action
here from my last review of the BFG 5900Ultra.
Mmm...Protective Plastic Shell
So, what's inside? Not much; which is why you aren't
going to pay much. In return, however, you're getting a higher quality heatsink/fan,
faster memory and overall higher build quality than most of the competition.
So, you get the BFG CD, Quick Install manual, DVI-VGA
adapter, and a Molex y-splitter cable. The BFG CD includes the following:
NVIDIA Detonator Driver version 52.13 (BFG stated that the 52.16 version
will soon replace these on the CD)
NVDVD 2.0: This is the full version which normally retails for around
As you can see below, BFG made a few changes to the
NVIDIA reference design. The first upgrade is the HSF (heatsink/fan) which BFG
claims to offer "superior thermal resistance to the reference fan". Secondly,
BFG added memory heatsinks to the backside as they stated that "the reference
design of this card does not call for active backside BGA cooling".
Front Side - NVIDIA Reference Design
The color of the PCB is teal colored and with
the color of the bare aluminum HSF and memory heat sinks it makes for a sharp,
clean looking card.
Front Side - BFG Asylum FX 5700 Ultra
For the untrained eye the rest of the
board may appear to be identical to the reference board. However, the BFG board
does not include the Phillips chip that provides VIVO capability. This decision
was made by BFG to keep this product within the $200 price range.
Back Side - BFG Asylum FX 5700 Ultra
Unlike the 5900Ultra and 5950Ultra,
this card is a single PCI slot form factor so the size of the card was a
non-issue in my case. The card is approximately 8.5" long, 3.75" wide and weighs
in at 1lbs 9oz.
Now let's take a look at the actual core of the GPU as well as the memory
modules. The first thing many of you will notice is the "ENG SAMPLE" branding on
the bottom of the core. This obviously indicates that this is an engineering
sample. I inquired about this to BFG and they stated that my card was one of the
first production builds that they had received from their manufacturing partner.
These engineering samples are sent at the beginning of the production build for
BFG to approve going forward with production. As such this sample is an example
of exactly what is being built for retail; nothing has been tweaked or modified.
NOTE: The HSF is affixed to the board via two tension pins and a thin layer
of thermal grease (appeared to be of Arctic Silver quality to me, not the cheap
gooey/globby/white stuff). I obviously had to remove the thermal grease in order
for you to see the printing on the core.
NV36 Processor Core
Now is a good time to clarify how the NV36 chipset compares to that of the NV38.
The biggest difference here in both price and performance is the 128-bit vs.
256-bit memory interface. If you want to game at 1600x1200 with 4xFSAA and 8xAF
then the NV36 likely wont suffice. However, at less aggressive FSAA/AF settings
and/or resolutions of 1024x768 or perhaps 1280x960 (depending on the game of
course) the NV36 provides excellent performance.
NV36 - NV38 Comparison Chart
NOTE: Another difference not
mentioned in the graph is that of pixels per clock. The NV38 (5950) offers 8
pixels per clock whereas the NV36 has half that at 4 pixels per clock.
BFG opted to use Samsung GDDR2 memory instead of DDR1.
This is fast memory (2.2ns); you can read more about
Samsung K4N26323AE memory here. Note that the suffix is GC22 which
indicates that it's designed maximum frequency is 450MHz (900 effective). I was
able to overclock this to 475MHz (950 effective) without any problems.
This sticker also indicates the memory type.
I just to see so for myself so I didn't stop there.
Samsung K4N26323AE Memory
The memory heat sinks are aluminum and are affixed to the memory modules via a
thin layer of thermal tape. This thin layer seems to be an improvement over the
thicker/gooier thermal tape that some cards use. My opinion is that the later
can actually insulate some of the heat rather than dispersing it to the sinks.
So, this thinner thermal tape looked good to me. Don't forget, removing the HSF
and memory heat sinks as I've done can void your warranty so only do so at your
Underside Of Memory Heatsink - Thermal Tape
Here's just another photo of the card showing it off half-dressed. :)