WHEN NVIDIA first introduced the GeForce FX 5200, its performance was horrid. Sure the chip supported all sorts of DirectX 9 goodies, but feature compatibility with DirectX 9 doesn't guarantee competitive or even competent performance in DirectX 9-class applications or older games. To cure the GeForce FX line's performance woes, NVIDIA released the Detonator FX 44.03 drivers. Cheats and optimizations for 3DMark03 in the Detonator FX drivers created some controversy. However, the drivers did dramatically improve performance in many applications without degrading image quality or otherwise breaking any rules. And there was much rejoicing.
Thus, I had a renewed interest in NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5200 Ultra. The Ultra bolsters the GeForce FX 5200's core clock speed by 75MHz and memory clock by 150MHz, which makes it look more competitive, on paper, with NVIDIA's mid-range GeForce FX 5600 than with its sub-$70 sibling.
Today we're looking at Inno3D's Tornado GeForce FX 5200 Ultra. Does it deliver on the GeForce FX 5200 Ultra's potential? Is it fast enough to challenge the GeForce FX 5600 or the competition from ATI? The answers might surprise you.
All you need to know about NV34
The GeForce FX 5200 Ultra uses NVIDIA's NV34 graphics chip, which I described in my GeForce FX 5200 review back in April. NV34 occupies the low end of NVIDIA's GeForce FX line, and it offers DirectX 9-class pixel and vertex shader programs. Like NV31, which is used in NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5600 series, NV34 has four pixel pipelines capable of laying down one texture per rendering pass. However, NV34 differs from the rest of the NV3x line in a couple of key ways:
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