Gainward FX 5800 Ultra: First review at [M] , Your next upgrade?

Videocards/VGA Reviews by jmke @ 2003-04-28

We check out what a brandnew Geforce FX Ultra 5800 can do for your XP2000+ system. We compare it to the Geforce 4 Ti4200, ATI Radeon 9700 Pro. And last but not least we upgrade the CPU to a XP2600+ and see if the GF4 Ti4200 gets enough extra juice to keep up with the big guns!

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Some time has passed since we have last seen a new video card from nVidia. Their last top of the line product was released over 6 months ago, and only got a small "upgrade" just recently. The Geforce 4 Ti4600 (Ti4800 in the shops now, a Ti4600 with AGP 8x support) was the fastest video card available at the time of its release. But the competition was not idling either, only a few months later ATI released the Radeon 9700 Pro. The Radeon series had already tried to take over the performance crown from nVidia before, but the Radeon 8500 just fell short of a victory against the Geforce 3 Ti500. But in the last quarter of 2002 ATI struck back and scored a win with the Radeon 9700 Pro. It blew the competition away with high performance and great image quality, the driver support team of ATI also chipped in and released a unified driver package (much like nVidia's detonator drivers) to deliver error free gaming pleasures to the masses.

Geforce FX 5800 Ultra

Since then the world has been waiting for the reaction of nVidia. When they announced their Geforce FX and its specifications a lot of people believed that they had a winner on their hands. Let’s take a look at those specs:

  • Graphics chip: NV30
  • Manufacturing: 0.13-micron
  • Number of transistors: ~125 million
  • GPU clock: 500 MHz
  • Memory clock: 1000 MHz / 15.6 GB/s
  • Pixel Pipelines/Pixel Fill rate: 4 / 2000 MP/s
  • Ramdac: (2) 400 MHz
  • Memory size: 128 MB
  • Memory type : 128-bit, DDR-II

    You instantly notice the insane high memory clock! DDR II technology delivers blistering fast memory and high bandwidth for the Geforce FX. The GPU clock has also been "upgraded" to an impressive 500Mhz!
    On paper this card is the best thing around, AGP 8x support, 2x 400Mhz RAMdac for superior 2D performance and quality, support for almost all DX9 features.

    Radeon 9700 Pro

    What does the Radeon 9700 Pro have to counter this, a quick recap of its well known specs:

  • Graphics chip: R300
  • Manufacturing: 0.15-micron
  • Number of transistors: ~110 million
  • GPU clock: 325 MHz
  • Memory clock: 310 MHz / 19.8 GB/s
  • Pixel Pipelines/Pixel Fill rate: 8 / 2600 MP/s
  • Ramdac: (2) 400 MHz
  • Memory size: 128 MB
  • Memory type : 256-bit, DDR

    Although both the GPU and Memory clocks are a lot lower then those of the Geforce FX, it still manages to deliver an impressive 19.8 GB/s bandwidth for the memory!

    Geforce 4 Ti4200

    In this article I'll be comparing the Geforce FX to the older Geforce 4 Ti4200 (64Mb version) and see if it is worth upgrading. The Specs sheet for the GF4 Ti4200 64Mb:

  • Graphics chip: NV25
  • Manufacturing: 0.15-micron
  • Number of transistors: ~63 million
  • GPU clock: 250 MHz
  • Memory clock: 500 MHz / 8 GB/s
  • Pixel Pipelines/Pixel Fill rate: 4 / 900 MP/s
  • Ramdac: (2) 350 MHz
  • Memory size: 64 MB
  • Memory type : 128-bit, DDR

    Modest specifications that should normally give you okay performance in everyday gaming.

    Read on to find out how Gainward delivers their version of the Geforce FX…
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