As we looked at previously, PCI Express has replaced AGP slots on basically all new Intel boards. While an AGP slot can be added to any of the 9XX chipset based motherboards it would be running at the PCI bus speed of 33MHz and be only 32 bits wide. This leaves a limit of 133MB/s to be used by the card as well as other cards, unlike the 2.1GB/s that AGP 8X could handle. Thus the usefulness of 16X PCI Express slots, which raises the theoretical bandwidth limit of the video card to 4GB/s.
Both nVidia and ATi have PCI Express based video cards among their other cards. The questions that people have raised about these two companies PCI Express cards is based on the approach that they took to make these cards. ATi decided to create a fully PCI Express based card, while nVidia decided to use a bridge chip to convert the AGP signals from the video card into the PCI Express commands. Which one is better is really up to debate, but since we don't have both companies cards here we cannot say one way or the other.
Albatron has solely been an "nVidia Authorized Solution Provider" for quite a while, so it makes perfect sense that their first PCI Express cards would all be nVidia based. The other older video cards that we have looked at previously from Albatron have been fairly good, performing well for a decent price. So can their latest card perform well, and do so while not costing an arm and a leg? Lets see.
Albatron Trinity PCX5750
Albatron hasn't been the most generous in providing bundles for its video cards, so have they changed with the new card design? Lets look at a couple of pictures to see the card.
Now for a list of what you get:
- Video Card
- SVHS to Composite adaptor
- Driver CD
- Duke Nukem: Manhatten Project
- Game CD
One of the first glaring omissions is that there is no DVI to VGA adaptors included with this bundle, which is very disappointing for any card that has a DVI port. Most cards, and in fact almost all cards do come with this cheap to supply, but somewhat more expensive to pick up piece, which is very useful for anyone using dual displays.
Otherwise the software bundle is pretty decent, with a driver CD and an older game in the form of Duke Nukem: MP, and a CD with a few older games otherwise. Nothing that most would pick up separately, but something included here, which neither adds nor detracts from the rest of the package. The manual is pretty good, as it seems that Albatron has a handle on producing decent product manuals, which can never be overstated at all.
Now on to the card itself, we can see from the outputs on the card that it has a DVI port, a SVHS port and the VGA port. This is a pretty standard configuration for most cards and especially for those in the midrange of cards. Moving on to the side of the card we see the heatsink which covers the GPU, RAM, and the HSI bridge chip. Otherwise the side of the card is pretty unimpressive, as there are no other things that dominate the remaining space.
Now looking at the specific parts of the card we see the HSI, which is the PCIe bridge connector, to translate the commands from the AGP based 5700GPU to the PCIe x16 slot and on to the computer. The chip is an A2 revision of the chip which means that there wasn't that much in the way of early problems with the chip (or so we hope). Moving to the actual GPU we see the FX5750 chip in all its 'glory', all 82 million transistors worth. It is using the standard flip chip so that the core can receive direct cooling from the heatsink. The chip that is on this card is based on A2 silicon and was made in the 17th week of 2004.
The memory of this card is the same as that seen in Hubert's review of the MSI PCX5750 card, the chips which are based on the older TSOP-II design instead of the newer BGA design that GDDR memory uses. The memory itself is specified to run at 275MHz (550MHz), which is close to what this card is clocked at, giving us a little room to play, hopefully.
The heatsink of this card is bonded to the core by means of my least favorite option, a thermal pad. The memory chips on the front of the card are attached using a much thicker pad, as the memory is lower height wise than the core. The heatsink connects to the board via four push pins which are located around the GPU and the HSI bridge. There is a standard video card fan inside the heatsink which will help push 'cool' air over the larger surface area of the heatsink. The backside of the card is, well its bare, it has nothing to cool the RAM on the back of the card. Thus the thermal pad on the front RAM chips is more for show than any real cooling effect. We will look at how well this heatsink cools and how loud it is later on in the review.