ATI FireGL V5000 PCIe: midrange PCI Express graphics card offers extra features

ATI FireGL V5000 PCIe: midrange PCI Express graphics card offers extra featuresATI EXPANDS ITS LINE OF PCI Express 16x graphics cards with the introduction of the FireGL V5000, which fits into the midrange of the company's offerings in terms of both price and performance.

The ATI FireGL V5000 features 128MB of onboard DDR3 memory and six geometry engines and pixel pipelines. The V5000 provides dual DVI connectors for multidisplay applications as well as a stereo 3D connector with quad-buffered support. Dual-link support is incorporated in the card, very surprising for a midrange card that costs a moderate $699. Dual-link support allows the V5000 to drive the new ultra high-resolution 9-megapixel displays. Though these monitors are expensive, some new ones in the pipeline are more economically priced.

Another interesting feature of the ATI FireGL V5000 is the absence of a wiring harness or dongle to support the power needs of the graphics card--a standard feature on PCI Express cards I've seen thus far. The V5000 is self-contained, drawing power solely from the PCIe slot in the host system. Acoustically, the FireGL V5000 is very quiet, thanks to an enclosed fan and heat dissipation mechanism.

The FireGL V5000 produces a maximum resolution of 2048x1536 per display in dual display mode and 3840x 2400 in dual-link mode. It supports independent resolutions and refresh rates for two connected displays. Drivers are regularly updated on the ATI Web site and support Windows 2000/XP and Linux. The ATI FireGL V5000 is covered by a three-year warranty that includes toll-free technical support.

The FireGL V5000 supports OpenGL v1.5 + extensions and OpenGL Shading Language, as well as DirectX 9.0 and DX9 HLSL. The ATI FireGL line of graphics card is certified for a range of CAD and digital content creation applications.

On the test bench, using the new Hewlett-Packard xw9300 workstation (see First Look review on the next page) based on dual AMD Opteron 250 processors with 2GB of DDR1-400 ECC RAM installed, the ATI FireGL V5000 produced a total index score of 91.71 on the Cadalyst Labs C2001 benchmark.

The card posted a 43.54 score on the SPECviewperf v8.01 proe-03 benchmark and an averaged frame rate of 50.55 on the MAXBench4 benchmark using the accelerated 3ds max driver extension provided by ATI. Strictly as a reference point, and not for comparative purposes, the same workstation produced a total index score of 134.34 on the Cadalyst Labs C2001 benchmark using the NVIDIA Quadro FX 3400 graphics card--a more expensive high-end device. This number is provided to give some indication of the performance capabilities of the system used for testing, rather than evaluate one graphic card against another--which would, in this case, be comparing apples to oranges. These scores position the FireGL V5000 in the low midrange of performance for ATI's line of PCI Express products.

If you're looking for a moderately priced, midrange workstation-level graphics card, the ATI FireGL V5000 is certainly worth investigating.


PCI Express Graphics Card

Pros: Good midrange card with extra features; no wiring dongle required for PCI Express.

Cons: None significant.

Price: $699

ATI Technologies


Ron LaFon, a contributing editor for Cadalyst, is a writer, editor and computer graphics and electronic publishing specialist from Atlanta, Georgia. He is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta.