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NVidia Quadro FX 5600 January 10, 2008

Posted by farhanriaz in 3D, Games, Hardware, Review.
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NVidia Quadro FX 5600
Written by Eric Beaulé

The NVIDIA Quadro FX5600, introduced in March 2007, is designed to tackle the most demanding 3D animation, rendering and visualization tasks. We’re not talking about a gaming video card here, but rather a high-end professional level graphics card based on the G80GL GPU with a hefty 1.5GB of onboard memory. The Quadro FX5600 along with the FX4600 is NVIDIA’s flagship graphics card. We have put NVIDIA’s top model, the FX5600 to the test, and you wll find our results and comments below.

Environment
Our test machine was a Dual Core AMD Opteron Processor 275, which is 2.21 GHz with 2.00GB of RAM running Windows XP Pro SP2, and the Quadro FX5600 resolution was set to 1600×1200.
The tests were done using real-word 3D scenes from a current HD 3D TV production. We did our tests by mainly importing very large existing scenes, mostly from Autodesk’s 3dsMax8, and ZBrush 3.1 from Pixologic. Yes, 3dsMax9 was available at the time, but the available material was created with the previous version of 3dsMax.

Installation
The installation of the Quadro FX5600 went very smoothly. The board is a full size graphics Card (12+ inches) which is almost the full length of a PC case, lengthwise. The card takes up two slots in the back of the host PC. The board connects to a PCI Express Bus. It also requires two auxiliary PCI Express 6 pin power connectors aside from the PCI-E host bus. One thing to keep in mind is to uninstall the video driver form the previous card before installing the FX5600, that is, if you are doing an upgrade.

For our test, we installed the 162.62 WHQL certified driver, which was the one available at that time. A newer version of the certified driver will be available by the time you read this article. For our testing purposes, it proved to be very stable and reliable. The driver was a breeze to install; even the Dual View option installed right away without a reboot. This is quite different, in my experience, as NVIDIA entry level cards usually require several reboots.



The NVIDIA Quadro FX5600 installed: Shown above 2X6 pin connectors & full length card 3dsMaxing The first test we ran was to import a very large size 3dMax8 scene from the Sci-Fi spoof 3D animation show, “Tripping The Rift”. The scene consisted of a heavily detailed background and five characters. In technical terms, the scene contained 987 objects, 166 lights and 1,183,273 polygons (faces). The Turbo Smooth function was set on 2 for all of the characters. We started moving the scene in a circular motion on the X and Y axis, and what we got, to our amazement, was ultra smooth and fluid movements without any lagging whatsoever. I mean, we were expecting great results, but this was nothing short of amazing. Since many textures and lighting artists do struggle while tweaking these large scenes, the director and animators literally stood in awe at the performance of the Quadro FX5600. And that was only our first test.

Another quick test was done with the particle flow in 3dsMax8. Nothing special here, except the FX5600 did effortlessly handle 1000 polygons per second with the 3dsMax generated particles.

ZBrushing
Our second segment was done within the new ZBrush 3.1 from Pixologic.We went all out and used a very large canvas of 4000 pixels for our model, with a face texture of 4096X4096 using the pixel-tri-shader. That did not take a toll on the FX5600, however, it proved a bit difficult to move the model around. Upon resizing the canvas to 2000 pixels, which is still a rather good size canvas, it was business as usual for the Quadro FX5600.

For the technically inclined, our model had 5,775,360 polygons (yes, that’s 5 million), and was set to “best.” Lights were in Zmode, shadow length was set to 400, alias was set to 8, and super sample was on 4 for our render test.

We then proceeded, and did an alpha test on a 2000 pixel canvas, with a 1,443,840 polygons model using the Lazy Mouse for precise and controlled brush strokes. Again, everything worked seamlessly and fluidly. The FX5600 is no slouch when it comes to keeping up with graphics refresh.

As we wanted to push the Quadro FX5600 to the limit and see how far we could go with it, we used Zbrush’s HD Geometry, which is an advanced sculpting feature. We created a model which in the end was made up of 92 million polygons (yes, that is correct). Then, whichever region we’d select to work on, the sculpting was fast and responsive. Editing and sculpting sections (or subdivisions) was handled very easily and precisely by our test card. We experienced no waiting or delay while pushing the FX5600 to (what we thought was) the limit. Again, we were pleasantly surprised.

Conclusion

I was expecting to review a very good graphics card, but it really did exceed my expectations. The Quadro FX5600 with its 1.5GB of onboard RAM performed flawlessly in all our tests. Anything that was thrown at it, was successfully handled. Although in the higher price range of the graphics card market; it retails at MSRP of $2999, it will, without a doubt, serve the most demanding users. Also, It offers the instant gratification and rewards of the new power-hungry features and functionalities from all the latest software.

I truly believe that the FX5600 would greatly benefit any busy freelance graphic artist, or animation/graphics studios that works with demanding graphic data. In my opinion, it will speed up workflow,and improve render and delivery time.

[Related Links]
www.nvidia.com/quadro

http://www.nvidia.com/datasheet.pdf

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