Asus V9950 Ultra GeForce FX 5900 Ultra

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Asus V9950 Ultra GeForce FX 5900 Ultra - Page 2

The Asus V9950 Ultra - GeForce FX 5900 Ultra
The First Single-Slot Ultra to Hit Our Lab...

By - Marco Chiappetta
September 9, 2003

Although the PCB itself adheres to NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5900 Ultra reference design, Asus took some steps to ensure the V9950 Ultra is easily discernable among its competition.  After a long stretch in '02 of reviewing one GF4 Ti after another, with only a sticker applied to a fan to tell them apart, we were glad to see Asus make some changes that really help differentiate this card from other GFFX 5900 Ultras.

     

     

     

The V9950 Ultra's blue PCB was the first trait to catch our eye.  A colored PCB does nothing for performance, but it does help give the card some style and distinguish it from the plain-vanilla green PCBs being sold be some other manufacturers.  To give the V9950 Ultra even more personality, Asus also uses a gold-plated external plate and gold-plated DVI and DB15 connectors.  Asus claims the plating improves signal quality, but in side-by-side comparisons with an NVIDIA reference card and an Abit 5900 non-Ultra, we didn't see any image quality differences in either 2D or 3D (up to 1600x1200x85Hz).  The V9950 Ultra's distinguishing factor has got to be its custom copper cooling solution.  The NVIDIA designed, dual-slot FX-Flow cooler is gone.  Instead, Asus employs a specially designed, quiet 2-Fan copper heatsink on the V9950 Ultra, that no only does an excellent job cooling the GPU and RAM, but it occupies only a single slot!  We pulled the cooler off the card and found it to be very well mated to the board's components.  The heat plates mounted to the front and back of the card made perfect contact with the NV35 GPU and 256 RAM (16 - 2.2ns Hynix BGA chips), although we would have liked to have seen a bit more thermal paste applied to the GPU.  Like other GeForce FX 5900's, the fans on the V9950 Ultra spin-up or down when switching from 2D to 3D mode.  Even when running at full speed, the fans used on the this card are relatively quiet.  We could not hear the V9950 Ultra over the CPU and case fans used in our test system.

If you have inspected a few GeForce FX 5900s, you may have noticed one omission from the V9950 Ultra's PCB.  If you take a look at the last picture above, at the lower left corner you'll see a bare spot on the board (here's a shot of Leadtek's A350 PCB for comparison).  That location is usually reserved for a video encoder of some sort.  The V9950 Ultra that we're looking at today does not have any Video-In capabilities, which is why an encoder is not present.  Knowing Asus, however, we wouldn't be surprised to see a "Deluxe" version of this card with ViVo functionality introduced sometime in the near future.

Screenshots While Gaming With Gun Metal
Yes, It's a DX9 Game!

     
1024x768 - 4X AA

Before we sat down to benchmark the V9950 Ultra, we spent some time gaming with this beast.  This was actually a good month for gamers.  Some highly anticipated games and demos were all released recently.  We played with the Call of Duty demo, Tron 2.0, Gun Metal and Unreal Tournament 2003.  All of the games ran very well on the V9950 Ultra, even with anti-aliasing and Anisotropic filtering enabled (which is to be expected with current titles running on a $450+ dollar card!).  We snapped off a few screenshots from Gun Metal, one of the games included with the V9950 Ultra, to give you some idea of the kind of in-game images this card is capable of displaying.  All of the shots above were taken at 1024x768 with 4XAA and 8X Anisotropic filtering enabled.

Screenshots with Antialiasing Enabled
Works Great, But With Some Weirdness
 

1024x768
NO AA
 

1024x768
2X AA
 

1024x768
4X AA
 

1024x768
4XS AA
 

1024x768
6XS AA
 

1024x768
8X AA

We also took a few screenshots to specifically show you the benefits of the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra's Antialiasing techniques, using the exact same frame from 3DMark03's "Wings of Fury" demo.  As you can see, as the AA level is increased, the visible jaggies in the image are significantly decreased.  Pay special attention to the small plane in the background at the upper-left of the images.  Open up a few of the images, and switch between them quickly to really see the benefits of anti-aliasing.  We did notice something strange when using any level of AA higher than 4X.  The smoke in this scene is rendered differently at 4XS, 6XS and 8X AA levels.  The sampling pattern used and filtering applied to the image when using these modes is probably what causes this anomaly, so sticklers for image quality should probably stick with 4XAA (or lower).

Let's Start Benchmarking

Tags:  Asus, GeForce, Ultra, force, fx, ULT

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