The AOpen Aeolus FX5600S
AOpen Enters the Mainstream with Some Punch

By - Tom Laverriere
December 3, 2003

NVIDIA and ATi currently offer PC graphics solutions they refer to as "mainstream" products, since that is the kind of card you will find in an average (versus "enthusiast") system, where the bulk of the market volume is driven.  NVIDIA offers their mainstream product in the form of the GeForce FX 5600 GPU and more recently the GeForce FX 5700.  These cards may be on many wish-lists this holiday season, with their excellent price/performance ratio .  The GeForce FX 5600 has  500MHz of Dual DDR DRAM memory giving it an effective 1000MHz of memory bandwidth.  Couple that with support for all the latest in DX9 graphics technology and you have what stacks up to be a winner.  AOpen has seen the light and come up with an impressive offering for those of you out there, looking for a video card upgrade but need to keep to a specific budget.  Today in the HotHardware labs, we're going to put the AOpen Aeolus GeForce FX 5600S graphics card through the paces to see if this is a mainstream product worthy of your hard earned tech dollar.  How does it match up against its ATi counterpart?  We'll look at all this and more in the follow pages.

Specifications & Features of the 256MB AOpen Aeolus FX5600S
Plenty of Memory To Go Around

          

GRAPHICS TECHNOLOGY

NVIDIA GeForce FX5600 GPU
Core Clock Speed 325MHz

MEMORY CONFIGURATION

  • 256MB of DDR RAM

  • 250MHz DDR / 500MHz Effective Speed

  • 128-bit Memory Interface

FEATURES

  • Dual Display Function Support

  • Live Update Wizard

  • 128-bit DDR memory interface

  • AGP 8X support

  • New OpenGPU

ACCUVIEW ANTIALIASING

  • Superior multisampling technology

  • 2X, 4X, Quincunx, and 4XS Modes

  • Flexible Use of Anisotropic Filtering

CINEFX ENGINE

  • Vertex Shaders 2.0+

  • Pixel Shaders 2.0+

INTELLISAMPLE TECHNOLOGY

  • Offers the new 6XS Mode for antialiasing

  • HCT: High-Resolution Compression Technology

  • Gamma Adjusted Sampling

  • Most advanced anisotropic filtering available

LMA II

  • Lightspeed Memory Architecture II

  • A crossbar-based memory controller

  • A Quad Cache memory caching subsystem

  • Lossless Z-Buffer Compression

  • A Visibility Subsystem

  • Fast Z-Clear Technology

  • Auto pre-charge

NFINITE FX II ENGINE

  • Allows for real time character animation

  • Delivers up to twice the performance of the GeForce3

  • Dual Vertex Shaders

  • Advanced Pixel Shaders with Z-correct bump mapping

NVIEW 3.0

  • New and improved nView multi-display wizard

  • Allows for different profiles

  • Gridlines allow the user to divide the monitor into separate regions

  • nView Toolbar provides quick access to all functionality

  • Mouse Kinematics allow users to quickly view hidden windows

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer popup blocker gives more control over web viewing

GENERAL FEATURES

  • Comprehensive 2x, 4x, and 8x AGP support

  • Easy to use tool for driver installation

  • E-Color Technology

  • Friendly GUI for Windows 9x/2000/NT/XP

  • Multi-Language (9 Languages) installation and Quick Manual

DISPLAY SUPPORT

  • 15-pin VGA connector for analog CRT / DVI-I connector for digital CRT or flat panel

  • S-video or composite connector for TV/VCR

  • Independent resolutions and refresh rates for any two connected displays

  • Max Resolution of 2048x1536 / 32bit / 60Hz

 


         

         
CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

At first look, this card seems unimpressive.  When we heard we were getting an FX 5600 with 256MB of RAM, we had visions of neat little BGA memory chips in our heads.   But don't let these looks fool you because the aesthetics of a card is not what pushes those pixels and gives high frame rates, the hardware does that, and this card has plenty of it.  The GeForce FX 5600 GPU is covered by an aluminum heatsink and fan combination.  A white thermal paste was used to fill any transition gaps from the heatsink onto the GPU.  While the cooling solution does not look like much, temperature was never a concern for us when testing this card.  However, it may prove to be a bit of a hindrance when overclocking this card.  The bundle shipped with the card is not entirely impressive either.  There is the included DVI-to-VGA converter, which is a nice touch for anyone with two CRT monitors.  The part we were a bit concerned with was the lack of any game bundle.  Intervideo's WinCinema was thrown in for good measure, which will allow you to enjoy your DVD collection on your PC but that was it for software. 

         

The most impressive feature of this card, however, is the 256MB of Dual DDR RAM on board.  AOpen chose 3.6ns Hynix memory chips, which should leave us some room for overclocking this card.  We were a bit surprised to see that AOpen chose not to use any type of cooling solution on the memory chips.  While this will not effect performance at factory settings, we're not going to get our hopes up for any huge performance gains, when we try push this card above factory limits.  Also featured on the card is a 15-pin VGA connector for CRT monitors, along with a DVI-I connector for those of you with a digital flat panel monitor.  AOpen has also stocked this card with an S-Video jack providing the TV-Out feature.  Again, this card does not catch the eye much, but we'll have to see how it performs.  First, let's look at NVIDIA's latest drivers and some screenshots with the AOpen Aeolus FX 5600S.

The Drivers & Some Screenshots