View Full Version : Why should I buy a 5900?

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01-11-04, 09:53 AM
I'm slowly getting my system up to speed. I've bought the proc, ram, mobo, and now it's time for the video card. My 2 choices come down to the 9700np and the 5900nu. Both cards carry a sub $200 price tag and since I'm on a budget that works out fine.

From what I've read, them seem to perform roughly about the same. What I mean is, one site has benches in favor of the nVidia card and another has benches in favor of the ATI. I've come to a conclusion that on average, they perform just about the same with one another. If they both can give me 40-60 fps in games then that's good enough for me. AA and AF aren't important to me. Using a little eye candy is alright, but it's not at the top of my must have list. Video in/ video out is yet another feature I'm not worried about. Overclocking. That is the least of my worries. I am not an overclocker. Sure it's fun to see what your hardware can do and get those few extra points out of your favorite benchmark, but I'm past that point to where I'm looking more to stable drivers and solid performance than getting another 2-5 fps out of games.

I have friends who use the 9700 and 9800 and both of those cards are wonderful. That in itself should tell me to buy ATI brand and be done with it. However, I've used and loved nVidia cards in the past and I'm willing to see what nVidia can do. I've read too many posts where people say they love thier nVidia cards and they work great to simply brush them out of the way. I've seen what ATI can do and I must say I like what I see.

Now to why I've written this post in the NVIDIA graphics card section. I'm looking for people who own 5900's (Ultra and non Ultra) to write a little something about what they like about thier cards. I'm looking for real game performance and benchmarks. I'm looking for stablity issues and driver performance. I'm looking for problems both large and small. I'd also like a list of hardware that is being run with those 5900's. Cpu's, motherboards, ram (brand, speed and amount), drivers used, what operating system, and what brand of video card (i.e. BFG, EVGA, etc.). A list of games being played on your 5900's would be great.

In short, make me want to buy one of these 5900's over the 9700np. Make me a believer again, guys. Make me a believer. :)

My specs:

Barton 2500+
Asus A7N8X deluxe
512 Crucial pc2700
Visiontek Geforce 4 MX440 using 45.23 driver
Windows 2000pro

Games played:

Star Wars Galaxies
Elite Force 2
Mechwarrior 4: mercs
Neverwinters Nights
Grand Thieft Auto 3

01-11-04, 11:15 AM
5900 non-Ultra is quite cheap..

01-11-04, 11:32 AM
From a current performance standpoint (both regular and at quality), and from a future standpoint, I give the definitive edge to the 9700Pro.

If you find a 5900XT with Call of Duty and want the game, you have your extra value option to consider (similarly if you can get the HL2 coupon with the 9700 Pro), and otherwise if there are certain features you want that you can only get with one card, or get better with one (in nVidia's case, such as Digital Vibrance, multi-screening or Linux use) then factor that in, but offhand I think that otherwise--in this environment--you should always go for your best performance-for-the-buck, keeping an eye on future value. Since you "like what you see" with your friends' cards, I don't think there's much reason to be unduly loyal... to anyone but yourself, of course. ;) It rewards the right companies for what they do right, at least, which helps the marketplace anyway.

Since I don't own a 5900 I can't tell you any specifics about them, but that's my take on the overall situation. ^_^

01-11-04, 12:00 PM
Originally posted by OWA

ATI -- AA doesn't work in some games (for example, Madden 2004), sometimes has trouble with smoke/shadows (poor framerates, for example MOHAA Spearhead), every once in a while NBA Live 2004 will just leave me at the desktop but I haven't tracked down the source of the problem yet so I'm not sure if it's an ATI thing or not (systems aren't exactly the same -- sound cards are different so that could be an issue)

I have NBA Live 2004, but I have never seen it crash to the desktop on my system.

01-11-04, 12:00 PM
having had both a 9600 pro and now a 5900 i like the nvidia card better.

1. ATI drivers for me sucked after 3.5's, 3.6~3.9 forced all my opengl apps to 16bit with no fix and also hosed bf1942 when going to game menu and back. and i meaned hosed to where u HAD to restart game. these items are common for many ati users /check rage3d.com

2. Nvidia anistropy is much sharper and more complete resulting in a noticably better image quality when enabled

3. Digital vibrance, this combined with the sharper and clearer aniso again IMO makes for a more pleasing gaming experience specially with a vibrant and bright monitor like my Mitsu Diamond pro 2020u. u gotta dig the kewl color man! :afro2:

4. VIVO is so friggin cool! i watch cable and edit cam corder movies flawlessly with winfast pvr its just to cool.

These are all simply my OPinions of course but them are the main reasons i stuck with the 5900 it just overall seemed to give a more "refined" gaming experience. My 9600 pro was clocked to 9700pro fillrates as well and was a smoking fast card but all the games i play with the exception of tribes 2 run the same or faster via 5900.

Hope this helps man!

01-11-04, 01:02 PM

01-11-04, 01:26 PM
You made me really look forward to installing my Albatron GFFX 5900PV in a week or two. I just got a NEC/Mitsu FE991BK-SB 19" Diamondtron aperture grill monitor and picture is awesome with a GF3! Can't wait to see it with a GFFX 5900 :eek:

NEC/Mitsu are great monitors :dance:

01-11-04, 01:29 PM
Originally posted by Ruined

Thank you for your help, Mr. one-word-wonder. :rolleyes:

Are you saying the drivers are good? Bad? Need work? Perfect? Put some freakin effort forth instead of trying to up your post count. Thanks.

01-11-04, 02:11 PM
5900 + the Diamond pro 22 inch is a sweet combo indeed man. The mitsu's have awesome colors! enjoy your 5900 dood!

01-11-04, 02:17 PM
Hmm, tough choice. A 5900 and a 9700 are a pretty close match. OK, simplest question to decide for you: Do you like AA? If the answer is yes, go with the 9700. If the answer is no, get the 5900. That's really the only deciding factor I can think of between them. Otherwise, either card would be very good. Though where can you get a 9700 for under $200? Every place I've seen has been sold out of them.

Oh, though just to let you know Nvidia cards are much faster in Neverwinter Nights. A TI4200 matches up to a 9800 in that game.

01-11-04, 02:44 PM
Things I like about my FX5900 ultra?

Digital Vibrance
Super Sampling AA
Texture Sharpening
Image Sharpening

Most of the games I've played and am still playing have very few, if any problems with the card. Here are current games I'm playing.

Silent Hill 2 PC - Can use FSAA with Nvidia Cards but not on ATi cards.
Silent Hill 3 PC
NFS Underground
Star Wars KOTOR
Max Payne 2
Madden 2k4 - I think FSAA does work in this game on Ati Cards, OWA. I've seen some posted shots from ATi owners with FSAA enabled.
MGS Substance
Grand Theft Auto VC
Splinter Cell - Buffer shadows don't work, but projected shadows do.
Chaos Legion PC
Lord of the ring ROTK
Moto GP 2
Crazy Taxi 3 PC
Tomb Raider AOD - Depth of field seems to work fine, even though I've read otherwise by some here.

I've also bios flashed my card into a 5950 ultra. It isn't a real 5950u of course, but it can overclock well past what I could achieve before. Running the card at 540/1000 stable on stock cooling. :D

My system specs are in my sig.

01-11-04, 02:46 PM
I play games at 1024x768 so how much AA/AF are we talking here? The most I'd use is 2-4AA and 4-8AF and that's if I just want to mess around with settings. Also I've heard that the 5900's throttle back the speed if they get too hot and that they could do it in the middle of games causing them to lockup/crash. Again, that's just what I've heard. Any truth to that? So far these replies are great. Keep them comming. :)

01-11-04, 02:50 PM
Originally posted by marqmajere
I play games at 1024x768 so how much AA/AF are we talking here? The most I'd use is 2-4AA and 4-8AF and that's if I just want to mess around with settings. Also I've heard that the 5900's throttle back the speed if they get too hot and that they could do it in the middle of games causing them to crash. Again, that's just what I've heard. Any truth to that? So far these replies are great. Keep them comming. :)

No. The 5900's downclock their gpu to 300 mhz when in 2d mode(surfing the net, chatting, word, ect.. ), but then they clock it back up to default speeds when you play a 3d game. This is a great feature which keeps the video card gpu cool when your not playing a game. That's also something I like about the card.

I haven't heard anything about the card downclocking in the middle of games though. Atleast mines doesn't do that.

01-11-04, 02:55 PM
I think you should not buy a 5900, just wait for a $200 NV4? for mainstream. :D

01-11-04, 03:05 PM
Originally posted by AthlonXP1800
I think you should not buy a 5900, just wait for a $200 NV4? for mainstream. :D

hehe. People will always say wait because there is always something right around the corner. :D

Is the performance hit that big while using the eye candy on the 5900non ultras? For example. Let's say I was playing UT2003 at 1024x768. What kind of drop would I see if I enabled 4xAA and 8xAF? This is on a Barton 2500+ and 512 of ram, btw.

01-11-04, 03:08 PM
Not much, 1024x768 is a fairly low resolutin these days, and the 5900 has the 256bit bandwidth to make up for the hit. At that resolution UT2003 will be completely playable.

I had a 5900, and at that res and quality, UT2003 flew. Now at 1600x1200... thats a different story:)

01-11-04, 03:21 PM
Well, to be honest 4xAA is kinda useless on Nvidia cards. It looks almost exactly the same as 2x, just with a larger performence hit. With 2xAA/lvl8 aniso, you'll probably get a very minimal performence hit, somewhere between 20%-30% at 1024. If you want to use 4xS AA though, you'll basicly just take whatever you'd normally get at 2xAA and cut performence in half (it does look pretty though!). If you use 4xS or 8xS AA, then you're probably better off using 4xAA or 6xAA on an ATI card (though the *xS modes are very handy for games like Half-life that use heavy alpha textures, since everything else wouldn't apply AA to alpha textures). But the 5900 is such a powerful card you could probably afford to run with high AA settings in most games, even on my TI4200 with an outdated AA mode and much slower overall speed, I've found almost every game to be quite playable with 2xAA and lvl8 Aniso at 1024x768 resolution. But 4xS is noticably choppy on it.

The Baron
01-11-04, 03:22 PM
Using the Icetomb Demo of Doom and Destruction, I was looking at about 35FPS with 4x/8x 1024. The 5900 will run UT2003 fine at max details with 4x/8x.

01-11-04, 03:32 PM
All right. You guys have been great and your responses are worthy of an award..of...sometype..:confused: Anyways, I've decided to try the 5900. However, with one decision comes more questions. I'm looking at the BFG 5900 non ultra. They have them for $185 retail. Am I safe buying a BFG model and if so what is that particular card clocked at? I went to Newegg and it seems as if the different brands of 5900's are clocked at different speeds. Example: Jaton clocks thier cards at 400/800 while Leadtek runs at 400/850. I've read good things about the Asylum cards, but don't want a slower clocked card.

The Baron
01-11-04, 03:35 PM
400/850 is the Word on the Street for BFG cards. BFG also has the best warranty of any company that I know of.

01-11-04, 03:46 PM
Hey, someone mentioned Jaton!! wow! Hey, re: Jaton cards, I must say to anyone shopping around that those cards may be less costly, but their mfg process doens't show it (like PNY's did :( ) I had a real nice ti4200 128mb, (310/585'able, A3 core) and teh construction of the board was REAL solid! Again, much better than any PNY cards I've seen...

01-11-04, 03:49 PM
Have any of you bought anything from CompuHQ.com? They have the best prices, but I'm a bit worried about buying online from a store I've never bought from before without references. BFG 5900 retail for $185. I can swing that. :D

01-11-04, 03:49 PM
BFG boards are great, nice cooling design for the most part, and nice memory/core clocks.

01-11-04, 04:07 PM
BFG makes great cards, and they have great support. When my fan broke on my TI4200, I called them up and they had me send it into them, and rather then just fixing the fan they sent me a TOTALLY NEW TI4200 card with a really cool PCB, and the thing overclocks over 10% better then my old card did. Also, it seems BFG doesn't even make an "SE" version of their 5900 card, it's just a straight-up 400/850 clocked card (going by their response to another guy in a different thread).

Not sure about that Compuhq place though, have you checked resellerratings.com?

01-11-04, 04:10 PM
BFG is the way to go. No fancy software bundles, just a card that uses some of the highest quality components available. Their 5900NU card isn't an SE/XT so it comes clocked at the full 400/850 speeds. But you better act fast because those particular cards are starting to get in short supply.