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2D Quality and Overclocking

Is it possible for a graphics card to have poor 2D image quality when the PCB carefully follows the reference design? Sometimes, yes. Unfortunately, the picture in 1600x1200 resolution at 85Hz refresh rate could hardly be called good. Of course, it was not corrupt altogether, but the obvious “fuzziness” made it impossible to work comfortably in a word processor. Having reduced the refresh rate to 75Hz, we got a better image, but it became clear-cut only in 1280x1024. For your reference, the ASUS V9950 graphics card produced crystal-clear picture in all resolution, including 1800x1440@75Hz (the upper limit of the display). Again, the quality of 2D also depends a lot on a given display and graphics card.

Overclocking, on the contrary, was quite enjoyable. Using additional cooling, we sped up the card to 480/940MHz. As all GeForce FX owners should know, these graphics cards work at different clock-rates in 2D and 3D modes. Our GPU did 2D at 300MHz. It was rumored on the Web that overclocking the GPU in this mode may bring artifacts into the picture. Well, they were right. We increased the frequency to 450MHz to find that if you move a window along the Desktop, it will get covered with stripes and speckles. Although in 3D the card worked fine at this frequency.

It’s rather hard to determine what’s wrong with the card: if these are some internal bugs of the GPU or RAMDAC, or bad design of the card’s PCB. Anyway, this problem does exist for many graphics cards.

Now a few words about the VIVO functions.

The VIVO functions of this graphics card work as they should do. After you install appropriate drivers and re-boot Windows, the Device Manager lists four new devices: nVidia WDM A/V Crossbar, nVidia WDM TV Audio Crossbar, nVidia WDM TVTuner and nVidia WDM Video Capture. From this point on, you can work with the TV-input in any software that knows to use it. The quality of video capture is quite average, as in any devices based on the Philips SAA7108 controller.

Testbed and Methods

ASUS V9950 graphics card had BIOS version 4.35.20.21, while Albatron GiGi GeForce FX5900 PV used version 4.35.20.22. Moreover, an NVIDIA representative once told us that all GeForce FX 5900 cards raised memory timings if you overclocked the graphics memory above 900MHz. It is of course done to ensure higher stability. So, we decided to check out how it tells on the performance and carried out a few extra tests at different frequencies. The testbed configuration remained the same:

  • AMD Athlon XP 2600+ “Thoroughbred” (2.083GHz, 166MHz FSB) CPU;
  • EPoX EP-8K3A+ mainboard;
  • 512MB Corsair XMS3200 DDR SDRAM (2-2-5 1T, 166(333)MHz,);
  • Maxtor DiamondMax Plus D740X (2MB buffer) HDD, 40GB capacity;
  • Creative SoundBlaster Live! 1024 sound card;
  • Microsoft Windows XP SP1;
  • Drivers: VIA Hyperion 4-in-1 v.4.47, ATI Catalyst 3.5 (for ATI RADEON). NVIDIA Detonator 44.03 and 44.90 (for GiGi GeForce FX5900 PV).
 
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