BFG Technologies Asylum GeForce FX 5900 Ultra Review - Page 2 Of 8
By Clay Angelly - August 4, 2003
I'm a fan of box art and package designs. What's on the inside is what really counts though. However, a slick design/build quality in the packaging and attention to detail can reveal important things about the manufacturer. There's nothing really earth-shattering about the box itself. It's your typical cardboard cover, but the artwork is nice, clean, and not over the top or wacky with unicorns sporting head-mounted lasers and whatnot. It's got this crazy guy on there or maybe it's a college student in a darkened library stressed about finals.
In my last review, I glossed over the packaging because it was the typical
cardboard box. The BFG packaging is a bit different though and I thought pretty neat and protective. As you can see, it's obviously not cardboard. BFG uses a single piece of molded plastic that folds around the card and locks in place securing the card inside. I thought this was slick and effective in keeping the product protected.
The remaining contents are: the BFG CD, Ulead's Video Studio 7 SE DVD CD, Quick Install manual, case sticker, VIVO cable, DVI-VGA adapter, and Molex y-splitter cable.
BFG CD - This CD contains the following notable items:
NVIDIA Detonator Driver version 44.03
NVDVD 2.0: This is the full version which normally retails for around
S-Video VIVO (Video-In, Video-Out) Cable - These cables (below
left) aren't as
flexible or as long as the red Gainward cables (below right) by comparison.
They are labeled clearly though and appear to be quality cables
BFG's VIVO Cable
Gainward's VIVO Cable
DVI-to-VGA Adapter - One of the required pieces nowadays, it's what
it is and it's black.
BFG Logo Case Badge Sticker - It's not the thick, "puffy" kind but
Paperback Manual/Installation Guide - The PDF version is also
available on the BFG CD.
Molex Y-Adapter Cable - You can never have too many of these and
since these cards need the extra juice it's a nice touch to include this.
Games - None. And you know what, I could care less. Too many
reviews bet the bank based on the software/game bundle in my opinion. For
entry-level and mid-range products a software bundle is fine. However, when
you're talking about a top of the line card like the 5900 Ultra those extras
actually come at a cost. Following is a Q&A exchange between myself and John
Malley, Director, Marketing and PR:
Why was the decision made to not include any games with this product?
"We've debated the inclusion of games in our products and ultimately
decided that most gamers either already have the games that would be
bundled, or want the freedom of choosing the games they want. Our profit
margins are pretty slim to begin with and until or unless we can find a
great game that shows off the newest DX9 technology at an affordable
price, we wouldn't want to drive our price up.
Many people don't realize
that the manufacturers who include many games in their boxes can afford
to do so by using "cost down" components on their graphics cards. That
means to give you games you may or may not use, they have used lower
quality components on the card. BFG doesn't do this and so the cost for
us to build the card with the highest quality components means we have
less cash to spend on bundles. We believe most consumers would rather
have a high quality graphics card with no games rather than a lower
quality board with mostly older games."
CARD LAYOUT / COMPONENTS
As with most all of the vendors out there, BFG sticks to NVIDIA's reference
design as all these cards are provided by NVIDIA to their board partners. In comparing the two images below
of NVIDIA's reference design card and BFG's production card note the extra
capacitors on the BFG card near the tail. The NVIDIA image is a
pre-production shot though so this isn't an apples-to-apples comparison. I just
thought it was interesting to see the added capacitors on the production card.
Some of may have read
this earlier review on this card over at OCAddiction.com where they
experienced the Molex connector actually being chipped off. I inquired about
this with BFG and they said that the OC Addiction card was a prototype. It
didn't have the metal band holding the connector to the PCB and that all current
retail products do have that band. In all of my testing I experienced no such
problems with the connector.
It's become a de facto standard (for cards of this caliber that is) to include passive cooling heat sinks to the
memory on one (if not both) side(s) of video cards. This card is no different by
using NVIDIA's new HSF cooling system. The HSF is accompanied by separate memory
heat sinks which are attached to the TinyBGA memory modules (16 of them in all
running at a very fast 2.2ns) with thermal tape.
Side-view of card showing thermal tape
If the thermal tape isn't your thing then you can always remove the HSF and
apply some Arctic Silver or whatever you like. Note that doing so would void
your warranty of course. Personally, I haven't seen enough of a performance gain
to warrant doing this. Maybe a few extra Hz can be eked out but having that
lifetime warranty is more valuable to me.
The GPU HSF is nothing too exciting but it looks nice, has a neat "flare out"
area to the right of the fan and it sports good 'ole "Twitch". This fan cap
area is where you'll see most vendors place their logo or name on these NVIDIA
reference cards. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the noise level
of this new design. I couldn't tell any difference between this and the Ti4800SE
HSF and actually think that this new FX design is quieter (especially in 2D only
mode where it ramps down to a slower speed).
There's no denying that this card is big, though not as big as the original
test sample boards. I didn't have any problems installing it in my case despite
its length and width. I did, however, note some really close calls regarding the
width on both the front and back sides of the card. I didn't have to nudge any
capacitors or anything, but the card allowed just enough room to be very close
while not actually touching any other components.
Size compared to Ti4800SE
Sticker on blank plate,
Inside my case
Front side - two capacitors
get a little cozy
Back side - corner of DIMM
retention clip close to corner of