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This story was printed from CdrInfo.com,
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Appeared on: Thursday, June 17, 2004
AOpen Aeolus FX 5900 XT


1. Introduction

AOpen Aeolus FX 5900 XT

AOpen is known for it's great variety of products including DVD/CD Drives, Bare bone systems, servers, motherboards, Graphics cards and other hardware. As a supporter of Nvidia, AOpen has released many VGA cards wearing Nvidia's GPUs. You can have a look of AOpen's VGA series here.

On this review you will be able to read about AOpen's Aeolus FX 5900 XT card equipped with 128 MB of DDR with a 256-bit memory architecture. Also a new section about Anti-Aliasing and Anisotroping-Filtering quality features has been established. Read on...

- Specifications

GPU GEFORCE FX 5900 XT (NV 35)
Memory Bus Width    
128MB DDR MEMORY
Memory interface 256 Bit DDR
Memory Type BGA DDR
Core Clock 390 MHz
Memory Clock 700 Mhz (2x350)
Memory Bandwidth 22.4 GB/sec
Pixel Fill Rate 3.2 Gpixels/sec
Geometry rate 300 Mtriangles/sec
Bus 8x/4x/2x AGP
Processing technology 0.13µ
Output Connections VGA + TV + DVI
Cooling single-slot Fan sink
2D Display Resolutions & Hz 640x480@240, 800x600@240, 1024x768@200, 1152x864@170, 1280x1024@150, 1600x1200@100, 1920x1440@85, 2048x1536@85
3D Maximum resolution 2048x1536 with 16.7M colors
Anisotropic Filtering modes (AF) 2x/2xQ/4x/6xS/8x
Full Scene Anti-Aliasing (FSAA) modes 2x/4x/6x/8x
Dual Display Supported
Pipelines 4
Texture units per pixel pipeline 2
Technologies supported

- Intellisample HCT is a new compression scheme for better compression at high resolutions with Anti-Aliasing.
- UltraShadow Technology enables a Higher Quality and cinematic experience in games
- CineFX 2.0 doubles the performance of floating-point pixel shader operations.
- LMA II contains a loss less form of Z-compression, saving memory bandwidth for higher performance.

Pixel Shader Support 2.0+
Vertex Shader Support 2.0+
DTV/HDTV decoding
Supported
System requirements

The minimum system requirements for the card and complementary software:
- PC with Pentium 4 / III 450 MHz or AMD Athlon processor with AGP 4x/8x universal slot
-128MB of system memory and 1.6 GB of hard disk space
-8x speed CD-ROM drive, DVD playback requires DVD drive
-300-Watt power supply or greater
- Windows 2000, 98SE, ME, XP and DirectX 9.0
- Microsoft DirectX 3.0 compatible sound card
- Monitor supported: CRT-15 pin, Svideo, Composite and DVI-I (LCD)

As we have refer in previous reviews, Nvidia's FX XT series are lighter than the plain FXs. For example the GeForce FX 5900 model has 400Mhz core and 850Mhz memory clock, while the Geforce FX 5900 XT has 390 and 700 for its core and memory respectively.

- 3D Mark detailed specifications

As you can see from the 3DMark details we used the 56.72 Forceware drivers for the benchmark process. The 700/300 MHz referred it's the performance of the card regarding 2D environments (e.g. desktop).

- The chipset


The front side with a fan that looks promising.

The fan has 2 extensions that are used as heat sinks for the memory DDR's. In the overclocking capabilities page you will be able to see what AOpen's cooling solution can really do.

Click to enlarge
The front side without the cooling system


A closer look of the 5900 XT GPU


Hynix memory DDRs on board

Click to enlarge
and the back side


The standard VGA, S-Video, and DVI connections with TV-Out functionality.

- Package Contents

As fanatic gamers we could not hide our disappointment when opening the box. There was no game bundle and not a even a coupon for downloading Doom3 (do we ask much?). Some time ago VGA card distributors used to include at least 2 games in their product, but it seems that today they prefer to sacrifice the software bundle to the altar of the low cost.

Instead we found a driver CD with additional technology demos and InterVideo WinCinema playback software. The usual DVI->CRT, SVideo connectors and cable are also included.

 


2. Test Specifications
Test specifications

- Test PC

Click to enlarge

- Benchmarking Software

- Drivers used


3. 3DMark 2003

3DMark 2003 Build 340

Homepage3D Mark it's a widely used and accepted benchmark that stresses the DirectX performance of a VGA card. For testing the performance of each card we use the 4 game benchmark 3DMark has. The first is a DirectX 7 game the second and the third use DirectX 8 and the last one stresses graphics in DirectX 9.

3mark03 also includes sound and CPU tests as well as some other feature tests. In this page we offer the average FPS on the game benchmarks, Having Aopen Aeolus 5900 XT compared with Asus 5900GE, Exair R9800XT and Sapphire R9800 Pro Ultimate.

- Game Test 1 - Wings of Fury (DX7)

This test is a combat flight simulator written for older hardware (DirectX 7). Particles are used a lot in this test - smoke and vapor trails, flak and gunfire, and explosions are produced using point sprites and quads.

There are plenty planes but their polygon frame rate is low, as well as single textured background object are used. Hence the average fps (frames per second) are high for all cards.

DirectX 7 was used widely a couple of years ago, but today it has been replaced by it's newer version. Thus the resulting average fps encountered with this game are very high. No minor performance differences, since the DX7 doesn't consume much power of the newest VGA cards. Aeolus 5900 XT showed good fps.

- Game Test 2 - Battle of Proxycon (DX8)

This test is a simulation of first person shooter game types. 1.1 and 1.4 Vertex shaders are widely used since all character models are skinned using vertex shaders.

This makes this test a good vertex shader comparison for VGA cards.

Very good results for the 5900 XT surpassing even the Radeon Pro in this game. Similar results however with Asus 5900.

- Game Test 3 - Trolls' Lair (DX8)

This test should be the favorite of all RPG lovers. It is a cut scene of a female warrior facing two malicious trolls. Again the same vertex and pixel processing is used as in game test 2.

This test also uses post-processing effects, such as Depth of Field and Bloom effects which are widely used in today's game cut scene sequences.

 

Again identical fps for the Nvidia cards.

- Game Test 4 - Mother Nature (DX9)

This game test represents the level of effects and realism that are possible using 2.0 vertex and pixel shaders, plus some other features that DirectX 9 offers.

The Radeon series are slightly more capable processing vertex and pixel shaders 2.0, according to this test.

- 3DMark Official score

If you test your machine with 3DMark you can post the results at 3DMark' online result browser. For more information visit futuremark.com.


4. Aquamark 3

Aquamark3


HomepageSince the majority of today's applications and games are compatible with DirectX 9, the need of benchmark applications that use DX 9 has been brought up. The benchmark uses the 3D engine (Krass engine) of the Aquanox game.

Unlike synthetic benchmarks Aquamark3 allows benchmarking in a real-world scenario with an engine and art assets representing the complexity of current state-of-the-art games. The results you get from Aquamark vary from a general result score (AquaMark Triscore), which is a result of 9 chapters each one utilizes different graphical operations. The AquaMark3 benchmark also delivers scores for specific hardware components as well as an overall score for the entire system.

The chapters that stresses the Graphics performance are the following:

In this section we present comparison charts for the following chapters:High particle count, Vertex and pixel lightning and Massive Overdraw

- High particle count

This chapter demonstrates a high number of particles being used for simulating dust and smoke. Each particle is approximated by a mass point with one degree of freedom for its rotation.

The particle system of this test is designed to render a large number of physically accurately simulated particles as efficiently as possible.



The average fps results of the Aeolus 5900 XT are the same again with the 5900 model. As for this particular test which measures the card performance when rendering high particle numbers, Aeolus indicated acceptable results.

- Vertex and pixel lightning

The objects in this scene show a broad range of different material and lightning effects used in modern game engines.

Aquamark3 tests two things: It applies many vertex and pixel shader changes straining the graphics hardware and its many texture lookups (determining the lighting contribution and material reflectivity) also strain the Multitexturing and rasterization components.

This chapter shows clearly the dominance The GForce FX 5900 XT managed to surpass its rivals with a 52 FPS top score. Here too the FX 9500 GE is last with 5 FPS back from the next card.

- Massive Overdraw

This scene demonstrates the application of the particle system for large explosions. The test stresses the graphics hardware by the high overdraw of textured areas as many particles overlap each other. A huge explosion that is included on this chapter, pushes the VGA card to the limits. It's really awesome if you imagine the number of pixels and shaders needed to make such a bombastic scene.

This is an important test, because the explosions in games require much vertex and pixel processing. In many games when an explosion occurs, this cause frames to drop suddenly at that particular moment. So this test is a simulation of what to expect from your card when facing explosions and other similar effects in games.

The low fps all VGA cards show, proves the complexity of the textures and lightning effects accumulated on the huge explosion of this test. It is worth noting that judging by the resulting fps of the previous chapters, ATI cards had a more visible drop down on this chapter. The 26 average fps, the GeForce series showed are very close to the 28 of the high-end Radeon 9800 XT.

- Aquamark Triscore

The Aquamark Triscore comprises 3 values: the overall system performance, the performance of the graphics system and the CPU performance. Keep in mind that this is not the total result of the above tests, but the result of the whole benchmark process including all 9 chapters.

This score is a sum of all chapters and not just the 3 minor chapters examined. As you can see AOpen showed the lowest score of all. This in normal since Aeolus 5900XT has the lower clock speeds. Now let's see it's performance on a DirectX 8 benchmark - Codecreatures.


5. Codecreatures

Codecreatures

HomepageCode Creatures is a synthetic 3D benchmark that is a good reference for VGA performance comparison. This is a high-end 3D benchmark that also requires DirectX 8 hardware, making a good tool for measuring the potential of DirectX 8 game performance.

The Codecreatures benchmark is written with Microsoft's DirectX 8.1 API and incorporates the use of Vertex and PixelShaders popular on next generation 3D accelerators.

The benchmark plays a photo-realistic nature scene and calculates the performance of the graphics adapter by measuring the fps that it can display at 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 resolutions. The score is a geometric mean of those three resolutions called the Codecreatures number.

For this Benchmark we offer the average FPS results of each card in the following resolutions: 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200.

Aeolus 5900 XT showed good average fps. This is not bad for a GeForce XT card.

- Codecreatures number

The codecreatures number is the resulting score of the total benchmarking process.

The Same picture here as with the previous chart. But let's see the cards' performance with GLExcess OpenGL benchmark.


6. GLExcess

GL Excess

HomepageGL Excess is very good tool for measuring the performance of VGA cards on OpenGL applications and games. This benchmark is consisted of 12 scenes grouped in 4 categories (3 scenes in 1 category). Each category stresses different OpenGL graphical sequences. The overall result named XSMark is the sum of the first scene of each category. All scenes were run in the 1024x768 resolution at 32bit.

- Category 1


The first category include scenes 1,9 and 12. Nothing specific is stressed on these scenes. Just average use of general OpenGL techniques.

The pic you see is from scene 12 is made of three shifting and rotating layers, which are textured in 4 blending modes. Nice effect!




Aeolus is behind the ATI cards but it summed up a somewhat equal score as the FX 5900 did.

- Category 2

The scenes 3,5 and 6 stress the card's 3D particle and polygon processing. Particles are widely used in games and you see them for example when you fire with a laser beam or when you light up a torch.

All 3 scenes are made with a particle system that stresses the card's polygon count and video memory. The spaceship you see in the picture is made of a very large number of polygons.





Here the GForce cards show their presence showing their good ability when rendering many polygons.

- Category 3

The third category sum up scenes 4,10 and 11 that render the blending ability of the card. Blending is the mixture of the graphic layers that result in complicated textures and effects.

The fill rate of each card is also stressed in these scenes. So this test should be a reference of the quality of each card.




With a 3.2 Gpixels/sec pixel fill rate, Aeolus FX 5900 XT run off this test with a rather expectable score.

- Category 4

Scenes 2 and 7 that constitute this category have to do with multitexturing effects. Multitexturing is the process of applying two or more textures to a single polygon or pixel, in order to provide spectacular images.

Scene 8 uses a sphere map that is mixed to a simple texturing technique in order to give reflection effects. Just to know, the reflection and shadow effects you see in games are being accumulated by the stencil buffer


Aeolus here shows it's teeth surpassing even the high-toned Radeon 9800 XT.

XS Marks

The XS Marks is the score of the GL Excess benchmark. Keep in mind that this score doesn't sum up the results of all 12 scenes but it sums up the score of each category's first scene. The XSMarks you get with your card can be posted on the GL Excess web site to compare it with other scores.

Not bad are the results Aeolus brought. Staying behind it's ablest rival Radeon 9800 XT with only 600 points difference, resulted a score of 10493. Not bad at all for a GeForce XT card.

Till now the synthetic benchmarks indicated a rather expectable outcome with AOpen Aeolus 5900 XT struggling to catch up with the other. Now let's see if the situation changes with our game benchmark suite.


7. Farcry & Painkiller

Farcry

You are Jack Carver running your own boat charter business in beautiful Micronesia. With a past best left behind you, you'll be focusing on your present assignment: escorting an ambitious journalist named Valerie Cortez to the Island of Cabatu. It seems like a piece of cake, but you'll soon learn: paradise can be hell.

Farcry is an awesome First Person Shooter (FPS) based on a last generation 3D engine named as CryEngine. Real-time editing, bump-mapping, static lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features that the CryEngine offers.

A great advantage and strong point of the CryEngine is its physics system which supports character inverse kinematics, vehicles, rigid bodies, liquid, rag doll, cloth and body effects. All physics seem to be very realistic and you never get bored when facing enemies, since character models have multiple animations that blend in believable ways.

With an integrated shader system and a massive terrain which maximizes the view distance to 2km these features make Farcry a perfect action game and also a referable benchmark to speak of.

- Benchmark Settings

Click to enlarge

We made are own demo with Farcry for benchmarking the VGA cards. For the demo we picked the Fort map and based the character on the top of the mountain where the whole island can been viewed in an unbelievable distance of about 2kilometers. It's really a stressful benchmark for VGA cards since we used the high quality settings for all tests. We were careful not to use many bots because the advanced AI system of the game consumes much CPU power.




Click to enlarge

The resolutions we run the demo on are the following: 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. The first test was committed with Anti Aliasing (AA) and Anisotropic Filtering (AF) features off. In the second test we leveled up AA at 4x and AF at 8x. Keep in mind that this test is the most stressful of our whole game benchmarks series.

 



With the very high quality settings on, Aeolus finds it hard to render the CryEngine even at the normal 1024x768 resolution. We have to mention here the usual bug we encountered at the lowest resolution (1024x768) with some yellowish textures on the trees. Till now there is no any patch that corrects the problem.

Things are much worse with AA and AF on with the high quality settings. Unfortunately Farcry is unplayable at this state with Aeolus 5900 XT.

- Painkiller

You play as Daniel Garner, a seemingly regular guy who has just been killed in a horrific car accident. Trapped in a dark and un welcoming world between heaven and hell, you struggle to uncover the reasons why you've been denied entry into heaven. Awaiting your purification, you must fight through an endless number of demon soldiers as you attempt to stop an imminent unholy war.

If I was told to describe the game in a few words, I would just say "action in its all magnificence". Painkiller it's a FPS, but totally different from other of its kind like Farcry. You see in Painkiller you don't have to use any stealth or tactical abilities. You only shoot and run. An interesting feature of the game is that always you will be outnumbered and surrounded by hordes of enemies. Definitely a pure action game.

Painkiller's 3D engine, named PAIN Engine, puts out an unbelievably high polygon count, while adding increased texture quality and the latest lighting and shadowing techniques, including soft shadows, DOT3 bump mapping, water reflections, glass simulation, volumetric light and fog, and more.

The game features 24 single-player levels, each one made by an average 350,000 polygons. The game boss monsters are massive made of 8000+ polygons and 2x2048x2048 textures. Enemies also have advanced bump-mapping and lighting models including specular lighting.

- Benchmarking Settings

To test the VGA cards on Painkiller, we recorder a time demo on the Psycho deathmatch stage. We used a multiplayer stage since this was the only way to record a time demo. After this we grabbed the average FPS on the following resolutions: 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200. The first test was committed with Anti Aliasing (AA) and Anisotropic Filtering (AF) features off. In the second test we leveled up AA at 4x and AF at 8x.

Aeolus had no problem with the PainEngine even at the highest resolution where it returned the incredible performance of the 56 fps! It is worth noting that at the 1024x768 resolution Aeolus surpassed even the Radeon 9800 XT. Let's if the case is the same with Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic-Filtering on.

From the 1280x960 resolution we encountered a big drop of fps with Aeolus. Unfortunately the 29 fps Aeolus returned at the 1600x1200 resolution is a prohibitive score. Keep in mind that high quality settings were used here too.


8. Unreal Tournament 2004 & 2003

Unreal Tournament 2004

Unreal Tournament 2004 is a multiplayer first person shooter that combines the kill-or-be-killed experience of gladiatorial combat with cutting-edge technology.


Ten game modes - both team-based and "every man for himself" -- provide even the most hardcore gamer with palm-sweating challenges through unbelievably detailed indoor arenas and vast outdoor environments.

As the ultimate techno-gladiator of the future, players will take their fates into their hands, battling against up to 32 other players online in action-packed, frag-filled arenas




- Unreal Tournament 2004 Benchmark

Click to enlargeMany new features and maps are available in Unreal T. 2004. Also the gameplay has changed in many of its game types. For example there is the Onslaught game type where you have to take over the enemy base using warmachines and vehicles in a massive map. For this reason we included an Onslaugh and a Capture The Flag (CTF) map.

As with the other games we conducted the benchmark using our timedemos in the 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 resolutions. All tests were done with the maximum detail settings selected. 2 bots were used on the Ons-Torlan map and 8 bots on the CTF-Bridge of Fate map. First let's see the Onslaught game type test on the Torlan map.

Good results for all cards. It is worth noting that at the 1600x1200 resolution Aeolus indicated good performance with 60 fps.

With the Anti Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering quality settings enabled, Aeolus depleted it's performance. This is apparent at the 1600x1200 resolution where Aeolus returned 33 fps.

Except from the Onslaught game type, unreal T. 2004 also has the following game types: Assault, Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch, Double Domination, Bombing Run, Mutant, Invasion and Last Man Standing. We also used a Capture the Flag timedemo with the same high quality settings.

CTF it's our most favorite, so we couldn't resist including a CTF timedemo in our benchmark suite. The CTF map we picked it's the Bridge of Fate with 8 bots.

Minor performance differences between Aeolus and the other cards. Let's see what happens when enabling AA and AF quality settings.

Now we have a more clear picture. As usual R9800 XT is not a match for Aeolus 5900 XT, but the second one returned very good fps even at the highest resolution.

- Unreal Tournament 2003

In the latest Unreal Tournament series, the player models contain a very high polygonal count. They are extremely detailed from the heads to the feet and they all look totally different from all the other players. The character animations are the most impressive. From running, jumping, and all the death animations.

Thanks to the new karma psychics system, every death is handled in a different way that corresponds to the surrounding environment. If players are shot with a rocket, they will be on fire, or if they die and are on the edge of a cliff, they will roll down according to the bumps of the cliff.

- Unreal Tournament 2003 Benchmark

To test the Unreal T. 2003 we used the deathmatch map dm-antalus with 5 bots. Below you can see the average fps resulted with the same resolutions and quality settings used in UT 2004.

Even though Unreal Tournament 2003 uses the same graphics engine as the 2004, it seems that it not a challenge for the latest cards. Even at the high-definition 1600x1200 resolution AOpen's Aeolus FX 5900 XT returned 63 fps.

Judging by the above chart, we recommend not to play Unreal 2003 at the 1600x1200 resolution with AA and AF on if you have a GeForce FX. Although a 32 fps score on on the limit, keep in mind that these are the average fps. There were times the frames dropped under 25.


9. Halo & Tomb Raider:AOD
HALO

Halo is a sci-fi shooter that takes place on a mysterious alien ring-world. Packed with combat, Halo will have you battling on foot, and in vehicles, inside and outdoors with Alien and Human weaponry. Your objective: to uncover Halo’s horrible secrets and destroy mankind’s sworn enemy, the Covenant.

The game supports the latest shader technology of pixel shaders 2.0. Of course the graphics are somewhat better on PC than Xbox, since most of the game's shader effects have been redesigned to support the latest 2.0 shaders in DX9. Having in mind that there are few games supporting 2.0 pixel shaders, Halo is a good test for VGA cards performance on the shader technology.

A prominent disadvantage of the game is its lack of Anti Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering support. If you get the funny idea to enable these settings via the control panel of your card, you will experience no difference in graphics quality as well as this would slow things down and lose performance.

Halo also supports pixel shaders 1.1 that offer better performance in the cost of quality.

Click to enlarge- Halo Benchmark

For the Halo benchmark we the default settings with pixel shaders 2.0 in the following resolutions: 1024x768, 1280x1024 and the awesome 1600x1200. We used the -timedemo command to run the default benchmark.



We run the timedemo using high quality settings for textures and particles. 42 fps it's a quite good score, but at the 1600x1200 resolution frames dropped way under 30 fps. Keep in mind that under 30 fps the decrease of performance is visible to the human eye. But let's see what Ms Croft has to say.

- Tomb Raider : Angel of Darkness

A series of grisly murders brings Lara into conflict with a sinister Alchemist from the past, and a secret alliance of powerful individuals shrouded in mystery. Accused of the murder of her one time mentor, Werner Von Croy, Lara becomes a fugitive on the run. Pursued by the police, she follows the Alchemist into a dark world of blood, betrayal and vengeance where it is up to her to defeat this unholy alliance, and stop them from unleashing their incredible powers on the world.

Angel of Darkness employs a brand new engine with Lara now made up of over 5,000 polygons as opposed to just 500 in previous Tomb Raider games. The range of special effects create a batch of cool visuals.

From the many kinds of water (mercurial liquid forms, good surface texturing, and realistic pools of water) to fire (heat blurs and colorful fiery pits), to the game's many light effects (lots of shadowing, multiple light sources and effective reflections), Core mixes more realistic settings with special effects to create a well-rounded whole. It is wothmentioning though that Tomb Raider: AOD uses pixel shader 2.0 technology on a higher extent than Halo does.

- Tomb Raider:AOD Benchmark

Click to enlargeWe recorder a timedemo on the Paris stage. The particular scene where the timedemo was recorder, is full with complicated fire effects. This benchmark stresses a lot the cards' pixel shading process and we believe that this is the ultimate pixel shader 2.0 game benchmark.


We grabbed the fps from the timedemo twice. Once with the Anti Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering off (Trillinear was used instead), and once more with AA at 4x and Anisotropic Filtering mode enabled from the game's settings console .

Even with the high quality settings disabled, the difference is apparent. Aeolus FX 5900 XT is way behind ATI's cards presenting only 34 fps even at the 1024x768 resolution.

Enabling AA and AF things look worse. Even the renowned Radeon 9800 XT returned the unacceptable frames at the 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 resolutions.It seems that if you wish to play this game with decent frames, low down the quality settings and avoid high resolutions.

Till now AOpen's Aeolus FX 5900 XT brought decent results in our benchmark suite. Many were the times the card managed to beat the FX 5900 and in a few cases managed to catch up with ATI's PRO card. Now let's see if Aeolus has something better to offer regarding it's overclocking capabilities.


10. Anti-Aliasing Quality

Anti-Aliasing Quality Test

There are 2 features that can make the gameplay more qualitative. The first feature is the Anti-Aliasing (AA). Anti-Aliasing is a technique used on a grayscale or color bitmap display to make diagonal edges appear smoother by setting pixels near the edge to intermediate smoothing to where the edge crosses them.

No Anti-Aliased
Anti-Aliased

The most common example is black characters on a white background. Without anti-aliasing, diagonal edges appear jagged, like staircases, which may be noticeable on a low resolution display. If the display can show intermediate grays then anti-aliasing can be applied. A pixel will be black if it is completely within the black area, or white if it is completely outside the black area, or an intermediate shade of gray according to the proportions of it which overlap the black and white areas. The technique works similarly with other foreground and background colors.

A technical explanation of the "Aliasing" process refers to the fact that many points (which would differ in the real image) are mapped or "aliased" to the same pixel (with a single value) in the digital representation.


These are the Aeolus 5900 XT Anti-Aliasing levels

- AA Quality Test

To test AOpen's Aeolus FX 5900 XT graphics quality we used Painkiller and Unreal Tournament 2004. We grabbed screenshots from specific scenes with different values of AA and AF.

First let's see Painkiller. To test Aeolus' Anti-Aliasing technique, we found a scene that include many edged textures. This scene was found on the DM_Cursed multiplayer stage. On the following picture you can see the area we used for the AA test. You can enlarge the image by clicking on it.

Click to enlarge

Aeolus FX 5900 XT support the following AA settings: 2x, 2xQ, 4x, 6xS and 8x. Now let's see the quality difference on this scene at the 1024 x768 resolution.

AA OFF
AA 2x
AA 2xQ
AA 4x
AA 6xS
AA 8x

Until 4x the scale effect is still visible. Later on the 6xS and 8x settings, which seem to be identical, we face have fine quality without scaling or other irritating effects.

We also picked a scene from Unreal Tournament 2004 to check the card's Anti-Aliasing rendering. The scene can be found on the ONS_Antalus map on the powercore's base.

Again we grabbed screenshots using all AA settings Aeolus supports at the 1024x768 resolution.

AA OFF
AA 2x
AA 2xQ
AA 4x
AA 6xQ
AA 8x

Even with the 2x setting the quality looks a lot better since the scale effect has tremendously reduced. Again the flawless quality is visible from the 6xQ setting.

Now let's see the Anisotropic Filtering rendering quality of Aeolus 5900 XT.


11. Anisotropic Filtering Quality

Anisotropic Filtering Quality Test

An other feature that makes your graphics more qualitative is the Anisotropic-Filtering (AF). Anisotropic Filtering is the latest filtering process like bilinear or trilinear filtering. Anisotropic texture filtering is more advanced than even trilinear. Where trilinear filtering samples only the adjacent pixels that immediately surround the output pixel, this creates a box.

To have a more gradual blend, anisotropic filtering filters 8 or more pixels in a random pattern around the output pixel, to create more accurate results. This requires even more fill rate than trilinear so it is seldom used. Next generation cards (x800 and 6800) can render up to 16x filtering filters on textures.

Biliniar
Trilinear
Anisotropic


Aeolus FX 5900 XT uses up to 8x Anisotropic Filtering

- AF quality test

The same games were used to test the Anisotropic Filtering rendering performance of Aeolus. Aeolus supports the following AF grades: 2x, 4x and 8x.

On Painkiller we found a nice spot to see the difference between the different Anisotropic settings. On the DM_Psycho map there is a hall with bloody footsteps on the floor. We believe this spot is a perfect reference to test any VGA card's texture quality.

Click to enlarge

AF OFF
2x AF

4x AF
8x AF

Setting the AF at 2x there is no much difference in quality. The footsteps at the end of the hallway are not clearly visible. Only the footsteps in the middle have improved. On 6x the last footsteps are clearly visible. The difference between 6x and 8x is on the marbles' lines. On 8x the floor is much clearer than 6x at the end of the hallway. So we recommend setting the 6x or 8x level without doubt.

On Unreal Tournament 2004 we used the same stage (ONS_Torlan) to see the quality difference of Anisotropic Filtering. You can see the scene we picked on the above screenshot.

Click to enlarge

AF OFF
2x AF

4x AF
8x AF

As you can see from the 2x level and over there isn't any big difference on the texture quality. 2x should be enough but to be honest we expected better texture quality at 8x.


12. Overclocking Capabilities

Overclocking Capabilities

We believe that there is no hardcore gamer who respects himself and hasn't overclocked his VGA card. Many believe there is no point in overclocking since there are no any visible performance differences. This assumption is wrong since some video cards have great overclocking abilities able to maximize their performance 20-30 frames higher! This of course is something to take into account and it appeals even the average user to tweak his card.

- NVidia overclocking

If you are the owner of an NVidia card you have 2 options: The first option is to download a registry file that unlocks a hidden option in NVidia's control panel. This option enables the user to adjust the core and memory clock speeds. An Auto Detect option is also included which tweaks the card automatically.

If the frequencies achieved with the auto detect option aren't sufficient for you then you will need RivaTuner. RivaTuner is a program with which you can change many settings of your card including the clock speeds. We recommend RivaTuner because Nvidia's control panel won't let you tweak your card over a fixed clock value.

The second option you have is NVHardpage. This application has everything and it is much easier to overclock you Nvidia card.

We should note here that GeForce cards after reaching a specific temperature value the default clock speeds are restored after having restarted your system. This of course is being done without the confirmation of the user, so always double check if the clock speeds are those you entered.

- Overclocking AOpen Aeolus FX 5900 XT

We downloaded the registry file to make the first step for overclocking Aeolus. When we installed the file, the contol panel popup had the following look:


The new option is highlighted

Clicking on the Clock Frequencies and option the following window appeared:

Selecting manual overclocking, 3D performance and clicking the Auto Detect button the clock speeds achieved are the following.

Having that the default frequencies of Aeolus FX 5900 XT are 390 and 700MHz for its core and memory respectively, those achieved with the Auto Detect didn't met our expectations. We were sure that Aeolus could do more than that and RivaTuner justified this:

With RivaTuner we leveled up the clock speeds manually up to 440MHz for the core and the awesome 800MHz for the memory. It seems that AOpen's fansink cooling solution does a very good job. 3DMark, Codecreatures, Farcry, Halo and Unreal Tournament 2004 run flawlessly without any artifacts or other irritating defects. But to be honest we expected more from the fancy fan since setting the core speed more than 445 MHz we encountered some pyramids coming out from nowhere.

On the other hand the memory heatsinks do a good job. We haven't seen many GeForce XT models using memory heatsinks, but it seems that it is a very good idea after all since we managed to increase the frequency 100MHz higher!

- Overclock Performance

Now we'll see what 440/800 overclocking can do.



It seems that it worths overclocking Aeolus FX 5900 XT. On Unreal 2004 the performance difference was visible especially at the 1600x1200 resolution with 9 frames higher. On Farcry the difference wasn't much but in Halo Aeolus reached some good fps with the overclocking.


13. Conclusion

Conclusion

Without doubt AOpen's Aeolus FX 5900 XT is one of the best GeForce XT models we have seen. It's performance not only meets the requirements of a GeForce XT card, but it managed to exceed the performance of the supposed better FX 5900 chipset.

In detail, Aeolus managed to outcome good frames per second in games making the average gamer satisfied. Of course the card is no match for ATI's top notch card we included in our comparison. It is worth noting though, that in some resolutions Aeolus was as good as ATI's 9800 Pro card.

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The synthetic benchmark suite indicated some good scores for Aeolus showing that it is a card that should be taken into account. Unfortunately Aeolus didn't catch up with the FX 5900 in some benchmarks, but it's general performance in games covers that gap.

As for the graphics quality, it seems that the 5900 XT GPU renders the Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic-Filtering features in good levels offering satisfying qualitative gameplay.

Regarding it's overclocking capabilities, Aeolus showed quite surprising results. We managed to overclock it at 440MHz for it's core and 800MHz for it's memory. Especially the 800MHz memory speed achieved is really something to have in mind when comparing it with other XT models. It seems that the memory heatsinks do a good job maintaining the entire chipset cool. Even more the 440/800 overclocking resulted to a very good performance increase in the games we tested.

The lack of game bundle should be noted but unfortunately this is the strategy the majority of VGA card distributors follow. On the other hand this disadvantage leads to a very strong point of Aeolus 5900 XT - it's affordable price. Having a look at some online stores we found AOpen's Aeolus FX 5900 XT with less than 170 euro (about $200). Of course this is something to have in mind if you intend to purchase a decent VGA card at a logical cost.



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