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Soltek SL-5200-XD (GeForce FX 5200) Review - Page 2 of 4

IMAGE QUALITY

2D image quality on the SL-5200-XD was quite good and was a vast improvement over my GeForce 3, which wasn't particularly strong in that area. Here's a tidbit of information. I had been using Digital Vibrance with the GeForce 3, but didn't have a need for using it with the SL-5200-XD.

Video-out was configured and tested using nView and I made use of the included S-Video to composite adapter. TV-out capability is integrated into the GeForce FX 5200 chipset and supports resolutions up to 1024x768. Even with the composite connection, the TV-out image quality was pretty good.

TV-Out

Text was legible, but the low refresh rate kept me from reading for any length of time. I played Unreal Tournament 2003 on the TV and for a second I thought my PC had magically transformed into an X-box. The video-out quality is a real plus for this card and I had no "black border" as some have reported with TV-out on the GeForce 4.

With regards to 3D image quality, the GeForce FX 5200 uses the same techniques for antialiasing and anisotropic texture filtering as the high-end GeForce FX 5900 Ultra. For image quality comparisons, please refer to our GeForce FX 5900 Ultra preview. However, I would like to comment on the subject of antialiasing and its use on a budget graphics card such as Soltek's GeForce FX 5200.

It's been my experience with NVIDIA-based graphics cards that the "biggest bang for the buck" in improving antialiasing image quality generally occurs when moving from no antialiasing to 2X antialiasing compared to moving from 2X antialiasing to 4X antialiasing. This is certainly "a good thing" when using antialiasing on a budget graphics card. The primary reasoning behind that statement can be attributed to the ineffectiveness of the GeForce FX when antialiasing the edges of objects that are positioned in a predominately horizontal or vertical direction. Feel free to form your own opinion by comparing the following images from the FSAA tester program developed by ToMMTi-Systems.

GeForce FX Antialiasing Comparison

No Antialiasing 2X Antialiasing
NV35 - No antialiasing. Click to view full test results. NV35 - 2X antialiasing. Click to view full test results.
2X Antialiasing 4X Antialiasing
NV35 - 2X antialiasing. Click to view full test results. NV35 - 4X antialiasing. Click to view full test results.

Edges are noticably smoother when moving from no antialiasing to 2X antialiasing. When moving from 2X antialiasing to 4X antialiasing, the differences in the edge of the three lines at the top and the three lines at the bottom are barely noticeable. Keep in mind that most objects we see while gaming tend to be positioned in a predominately horizontal and vertical direction in relation to the player view.

Better yet, play around with our interactive antialiasing comparison by clicking the image below. I'm pretty sure that you'll notice a greater number of visual changes during the transition that occurs when clicking the GeForce - 0X and GeForce - 2X links compared to clicking the GeForce - 2X and GeForce - 4X links.

Interactive Antialiasing Comparison

Click here for an interactive comparison of antialiasing image quality.

In many cases with the GeForce FX 5200, moving from no antialiasing to 2X antialiasing at a low resolution such as 640x480 resulted in a minimal impact on performance. In this situation the improvement in image quality far exceeds the corresponding loss in performance.

Now look at the cost of moving from 2X to 4X antialiasing, which will result in a much greater loss in performance than moving from no antialiasing to 2X antialiasing on the GeForce FX 5200. Does image quality increase by 100% when moving from 2X antialiasing to 4X antialiasing? 50%? 25%? Probably not. Would you even notice the difference when gaming? Maybe, depending on the genre of game being played.

BENCHMARK CONFIGURATION

Performance testing was done using the following configuration:

  • AMD Athlon XP 2500+ clocked at 2013MHz (11x183)
  • Abit NF7-S 2.0 - BIOS Revision 1.4
  • 1GB Corsair PC3200LL XMS TwinX at 2-3-2-6
  • Western Digital 120GB Special Edition IDE Drive with Abit "Serillel" SATA Adapter
  • Linksys WMP11 802.11b Network Card
  • Windows XP with Service Pack 1a
  • Detonator FX Driver Version 44.03 - Quality Image Setting
  • Sony HMD-A400 19" Monitor


  • Unreal Tournament 2003 Version 2225

After playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, I realized that the GeForce FX 5200 isn't a graphics card that will satisfy the needs of the avid gamer. At a resolution of 1024x768 with in-game setttings at maximum detail, the card would choke at times - more often while rendering explosions. The GeForce FX 5200 is a budget graphics card and benchmarking it under the same conditions as one would, say, a GeForce FX 5900 Ultra or a Radeon 9800 Pro isn't fair. But recalling the quality of the TV-out, I think the SL-5200-XD would be a candidate for use as a graphics card in a home theater PC.

Next Page: UT2003 Benchmark Results


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Last Updated on July 11, 2003

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