GeForce FX 5900 Ultra Preview

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The GeForce FX 5900 Ultra 
A Preview And Performance Analysis With NVIDIA's New Killer

By - Dave Altavilla
May 12, 2003

 

You certainly have to posses some serious intestinal fortitude, if you are going to overclock a $499 Graphics Card.  However, somebody has to do it and why not let that somebody be us?  We're masochists deep down I guess, here at HotHardware.

Overclocking The GeForce FX 5900 Ultra
Coolbits making it hot...

Coolbits Registry Tweak
GeForce FX 5900 Ultra
Overclocking Results
 


4X AA and 8X Anisotropic Filtering Enabled

We'll take another 12% gain with full stability any day of the week.  As you can see, we were able to overclock the core GPU nicely, 55MHz over spec and the memory 116MHz over its stock speed.  This was achieved without a single lock up or image artifact during an hour long testing loop.  We're not sure if this is indicative of retail product capabilities but it certainly is promising.

 


Final Analysis

Now that we've shown you all the intricate details, with regards to image quality and benchmarks, what can we say about NVIDIA's new baby?  Well, we have to be careful here.  At $499 ESP we can be fairly tough critics.  At this price tag, we want our AA as crisp if not crisper than anything else on the market.  However, it seems NVIDIA's current Anti-Aliasing quality is slightly less sharp than ATi's, depending on the setting.  In addition, we would want Aniso Filtering nearly for free but as we've seen in more stressful testing, NVIDIA's GPU takes a more sizeable hit than ATi's Radeon 9800, although it manages to keep the lead in most tests.  Again, a new set of drivers could change the picture completely and literally.  Also remember, we tested the GeForce FX 5900 Ultra, which will retail for $499, versus an ATi Radeon 9800 Pro, which retails for $399, a 256MB card versus a 128MB card.  Will users realize a return on their investment of that extra $100?  That's a tough call.  We're very interested in seeing what speeds and feeds NVIDIA will run on their $399 128MB GeForce FX 5900 (non Ultra) card.  If NV keeps the clocks speeds up and just de-pops the memory down to 128MB, the 5900 "standard" could be a real looker.

All told, the NV35 is a very competitive product that surpassed ATi's current high end offering by a significant margin, in almost every test we ran.  We'll be coming back to a side by side with the 256MB R9800 card but all indications are that the extra 128MB of lower latency memory didn't buy the new Radeon 9800 Pro all that much.  For now, we're impressed with the potential the NV35 has to offer.  If NVIDIA's excellent track record for driver optimizations holds true, we'll see incremental performance increases in the near future for the NV35 and hopefully they'll tighten up that AA a bit too.  With a few board OEMs growing their own cooling solutions, things could get really exciting for the NV35 and it's various flavors, this summer.  The GeForce FX 5900 Ultra is officially slated to hit volume in June.  ATi is now talking openly about a "Summer refresh" with their high end R350 products, so we'll have to see how the chips fall then.  However for now, NVIDIA has taken back the raw performance lead in the high end PC Graphic arena.  Welcome back NVIDIA; let the games begin.

 

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