When it comes to producing mainstream nVIDIA cards, Chaintech has got to be the most innovative of the lot. Not only do they make them stable and high performing, they also make them damn nice to look at. You just need to look at their most recent mainstream offering, the FX 71 Apogee, and for sure you’ll agree with me.
So when the FX 5700 Ultra came out, we were quite excited at what Chaintech will offer with their NV36 version. Having seen the impressive performance showed by the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra, it was obvious that they won’t waste time in releasing their new mainstream offering.
Today we are very fortunate to have Chaintech’s FX 5700 Ultra offering in our hands for testing. If this card can offer the same results as our nVIDIA FX 5700 Ultra reference card and have the looks that Chaintech cards are known for, then they have a sure winner in their hands. Let’s find out what the Chaintech AA5700U APOGEE can offer us.
Based on nVIDIA’s NV36 GPU, the AA5700U is the newest mainstream card to come out of the APOGEE line. Having said that, you can expect the same stability, performance and overclockability this line is famous for. Offering a unique golden design, nice package and the use of top quality components make this card stand out among the current crop of FX 5700 Ultras out there.
With new features to boast like the CineFX 2.0 engine and Intellisample technology matched with DDR2 memory architecture, expect the APOGEE to show good numbers against all the competition. Add an innovative Dual Fan HSF made of pure copper and super fast memories and you’ve got yourself a mainstream VGA card killer.
The Chaintech APOGEE AA5700U like all its predecessor, comes in a carry box. Gone though is the typical APOGEE box with a see through cut out window that shows the card’s cooling system. The box has all the specs and features listed at a glance. Inside you’ll find your APOGEE card packed in an anti-static wrap. Directly under it you’ll find the entire contents of the package neatly laid and arranged.
Like the reference nVIDIA FX 5700 Ultra card, the AA5700U APOGEE’s pcb follows the same reference design. SFF systems will find that installing this card will cause headaches when it comes to space. Below you will see how big the APOGEE card is when compared to the reference FX 5700 Ultra design, the Radeon 9600XT and the FX 5600 Ultra.
The AA5700U’s cooling solution is perhaps the main selling point of this card. It sports a Dual Fan design with the heatsink made of pure copper. The base is flat and has a mirror finish. A golden aluminum plate at the top of the fins then shrouds this copper heatsink. Holding the card you will notice the big weight difference between it and the reference design. The AA5700U is definitely a lot heavier. This heatsink also cools the DDR2 modules at the front. Noise level is extremely low.
The Chaintech AA5700U unlike the reference card doesn’t use 2.2ns chips. Instead it uses a faster chip. 128mb of super fast Samsung DDR2 BGA chips are installed in the APOGEE card. Rated at 1.8ns, its maximum theoretical speed is 1100MHz DDR. Now that’s a lot of headroom for overclocking. These chips are the very same ones used in nVIDIA’s FX 5800 Ultra of old. A molex power connector is present and would be needed to power the card. If forgotten, the system would still boot up but a warning message will appear in Windows telling you that the VGA card has been powered down. This is your cue that you have forgotten to hook up the molex power cable to the card. The molex allows for side connection and a molex extension cable is also included in case the cable coming from the PSU is too short.
Chaintech’s FX 5700 Ultra offering, the AA5700U APOGEE, lived up to our expectation by keeping up with the very good performance of the reference FX 5700 Ultra card. Like the nVIDIA GeForce FX 5700 Ultra, the Chaintech AA5700U APOGEE showed identical performance and convincingly outperformed its ATI counterpart. The Radeon 9600XT just couldn’t keep up with the FX 5700 Ultra cards in almost all of our tests.
The excellent choice of cooling solution and the choice of using faster 1.8ns DDR2 chips obviously paid of. Overclocking was very impressive and performance at this highly overclocked speed will definitely make this buy worthwhile for the mainstream user. Looks is definitely one of the main selling points of this card. With the blue LEDs that light up the card and the overall golden look, Chaintech has wowed us again by creating the best looking GeForce FX 5700 Ultra out there ATM.
With a bundle to match its good looks, the Chaintech AA5700U APOGEE is a sure winner. The inclusion of the Commandos 3 game will surely be a hit due to the game’s popularity among gamers. And because it is already included in the CD bundle, and not a game coupon with no certainty, you are assured that you can play it immedietely. The cost of the game alone will make the price of this card a bargain.
Overall, this card is highly recommended for those who want a great gaming card without having to pay the heavens for it. With good looks, performance and a great bundle to go with, the Chaintech AA5700U APOGEE will definitely make any mainstream user satisfied.