eVGA's e-GeForce FX 5900SE
A curiously named GeForce card hits the market

By Robert Maloney
December 15th, 2003

GeForce FX 5900 XT Driver Control Panels
NVIDIA's ForceWare 53.03 Drivers

Although we've covered NVIDIA's ForceWare drivers in our 5700/5950 Ultra reviews, we wanted to check for anything new in their latest release, version 53.03 for Windows 2000/XP users (Version 53.04 for Windows 9x).  NVIDIA's take on the control panels is very simple - give the user a drop-down menu, and let them choose what they want to modify. The drivers are written using a UDA, or Unified Driver Architecture, meaning that only one driver is needed for all NVIDIA GPU's going as far back as their Riva TNT2.

Change Resolutions
 Color Correction 
 Card Information
 NView
2D Standard Clock

 
3D Performance Clock

By clicking on the Advanced button from the display settings, we can access the ForceWare control panels.  The first tab displays basic information about the card type, amount of RAM, as well as the DirectX and ForceWare versions installed.  The Change Resolutions window gives the user all of the main display settings at a glance, even allowing for custom resolutions and refresh rates.  Should these settings require any tweaking, one simply needs to go to Color Correction.  In addition to standard color controls, users can also enable Digital Vibrance, a proprietary technology that digitally controls the color separation and intensity.

Have two monitors, but not sure what to do with both of them?  Connect them to the 5900 SE and run the nView wizard to quickly setup a multiple monitor environment.  Users can also divide the monitor into separate regions and quickly reposition and resize application windows.  Individual profiles let you customize the driver settings for different configurations which can be quickly recalled when needed.  Using the Coolbits registry hack, we were able to view the standard and performance clock speeds of the GPU and Memory.  At 2D (desktop), the 5900 XT is only running at 300MHz, thus running cooler and putting less wear and tear on the GPU.  During 3D game play, the 5900 XT automatically cranks itself up to 400MHz for more power.  The memory remains clocked at 700MHz.  The slider bars on these screens are also used for overclocking purposes, something we will get to a little bit later.

Quality & Performance

Direct3D

OpenGL

Unlike ATi's Catalyst drivers, which require that anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering be set individually for Direct3D and OpenGL, a single slider on the Quality and Performance controls both with NVIDIA's cards.  Each device can be left at application-controlled, or set to as high as 8 samples for each.  Further optimizations for Direct3D and OpenGL games can be made on the individual tabs for each, such as defining the mip-map detail in Direct3D and disabling Vertical Sync in OpenGL.

Screenshots With The e-GeForce FX 5900SE
What good is it if we can't play our games?

Benchmark numbers aren't the only way to compare graphics cards, comparing their image quality is just as important.  The operative word here is graphics, and what good is the fastest card if the quality isn't up to the same standards as the competition?   Since a retail version of Call of Duty ships with the e-GeForce 5900 SE, we decided to compare screenshots from the final battle on an ATi Radeon 9600 XT and our GeForce FX 5900 XT.  We took screen captures of the same scene, while raising the number of anti-aliasing samples and applying anisotropic filtering.
Call of Duty Screenshots
1280x1024x32 - Maximum Quality Settings
 
NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 XT ATi Radeon 9600 XT

No AA

No AA

2X AA

2X AA

4X AA

4X AA

6X AA

6X AA

6X AA + 8X AF

6X AA + 8XAF

      
The results may be, well, underwhelming.  Without anti-aliasing, both cards exhibit the same degree of jaggedness, best viewed where the back edge of the tank meets the cloudy sky.  The screenshots are otherwise quite similar, and we can't really judge one as being better than the other.  Moving onwards to 2XAA, it seems that NVIDIA has the cleaner lines.  This is somewhat of a first since usually we find ATi has better AA image quality.  At 4X and 6X AA, the lines are looking really sharp with both cards.  No apparent details are missing from the Reichstag in the background - nothing looks fuzzy or washed out.  The only true distinction that we can make is when we enabled anisotropic filtering in the drivers.  Only here can we make an observation that the structure at the top of the building looks a lot "cleaner" on the Radeon 9600 XT.  Otherwise, we're quite pleased with the quality from both companies. 

Need for Speed: Underground Screenshots
1280x1024x32 - Maximum Quality Settings

OK, so what are we looking at here?  These two pictures are from another recent release, EA Games' Need for Speed: Underground.  We've included these two screenshots for pure visceral enjoyment.  We were able to drive smoothly down the tracks all the while having in-game display settings set to their maximum and driver settings set to 4XAA and 8X Anisotropic.  And, let's be frank, you were thinking about getting this card to play games with all the bells and whistles turned on, right?

The Test System, AquaMark3 & Halo