Overclocking With The GeForce FX 5950 Ultra
enough to fry an egg on it but stable on the bench
We'll save the flowery
intro here and once again cut to the chase for you. We
enabled overclocking with the "coolbits" registry tweak for
the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra. We also enabled the
recently added "OverDrive" feature on the Radeon 9800XT and
then overclocked further in another round of testing at its
max stable clock speed, driven by
PowerStrip. Here are the results.
The Radeon 9800XT manages
to hold the lead, just by a hair (well within normal margins
of error for this benchmark, by the way) with it's max
overclock of 455MHz core and 800MHz DDR on the memory.
However, the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra shows and impressive
capability to maintain stability at overclocked levels of
550MHz core and 1GHz memory speeds. Yes, the card was
completely stable. Is this a locked and delivered
guarantee for your own experience, if you purchase a new
5950 Ultra, absolutely not. This was just our
experience with the card and you know the standard
disclaimer for overclocking full well. Finally, also
yes, the green RAM heat sink on the GFFX 5950U was piping
hot obviously and we don't advise anyone to run this card at
this speed, without at least one external fan blowing on the
card from a case panel or bracketed fan assembly of some
Just as we
strived to cut through the chatter with our introduction of
this HotHardware article, we'll bring this test drive of the
new GeForce FX 5950 Ultra to a close, with an observation
that sums up our feelings about NVIDIA's current situation
and this new round of cards, with only a few simple words...
"it's all about the drivers". The introduction
of the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra was squarely targeted at taking
the wind out of the sails of ATi's Radeon 9800XT. We
also saw NVIDIA engage in some fairly desperate measures,
Anandtech the ability to show benchmarks with beta
drivers in their "fall refresh" piece (which was really a
Radeon 9800XT launch article), and the card itself, while
the rest of the press were held on NDA, until today.
In the end, all the marketing spin, positioning and attempts
to foil the competition, usually is seen through fairly
clearly in the public eye. We feel that move was a bit
of a kick in the teeth for us here, as we all were working
hard, with our hands tied behind our backs, while one site
was allowed to run free (and there was one other in the UK
as well actually, cant' forget the Euro market boys!).
However, we always remain objective here and we've grown
some fairly "thick skin" over our years in this business.
Unfortunately for NVIDIA, it just was another fly in the
ointment for them, on the level of professionalism.
Bad move guys, let's put our thinking caps on in the future
OK? We'll end the editorial here on that note.
shown you what NVIDIA's new high end card is all about and
what it can do with NVIDIA's best driver set offering
currently. The GeForce FX 5950 Ultra, with the
Detonator 52.16s driving it, is a formidable opponent to be
sure for ATi's Radeon 9800XT. It won some and lost
some in our series of benchmarks, with its strength being
more legacy game engines and its weakness, at the moment in
certain DX9 and AA/Aniso Filtering enabled, gaming
situations. However, NVIDIA's new Detonator FX 52.16
drivers, along with their 50 series compiler for the Game
Dev community, have made great strides for NVIDIA's product
line, in both image quality and performance. We're
sure you'll see even better DX9 numbers from NVIDIA in the
future, as they re-order shaders, and optimize code via
their drivers and new compiler efforts. Of course, now
that we've all come clean (the whole industry pretty much)
on the image quality game, it is a given that rendered
output quality has to be top notch and comparable, otherwise
the high frame rates that go with those images, will have a
lot less of an impact on the press and general public's
So in short,
(and we've tried to be succinct throughout here), the
GeForce FX 5950 Ultra "is what it is". It's a bit
faster than the 5900 Ultra, but like the Radeon 9800XT, not
earth-shatteringly faster. The card runs hot as a
pistol, at least with the current reference design.
However, the cooling system is most definitely quieter and
somewhat more elegant, albeit less effective at cooling the
RAM it seems. Once again however, we are hopeful that
various third party OEMs will improve on the reference
design with their own better cooling solutions. In
this scenario, if you are in the market for a $500 (street
price will drive lower eventually, so sit tight for now) one
of the cards out of Taiwan may be the way to go.
Is the GeForce
FX 5950 Ultra a better choice than the Radeon 9800 XT?
It all depends on whether you want to hedge your bets on
NVIDIA's ability to execute on future driver releases.
Our personal opinion, with all the physical design
efficiencies at the PCB and GPU level, that the Radeon
9800XT brings to the table, the answer currently is "not
quite". However, in the next few months, when/if Doom3
is released and as NVIDIA's drivers and compiler improve,
the game could change once again dramatically. There
is no doubt, we are SIGNIFICANTLY more impressed with the
GeForce FX 5950 and 5900 for that matter, since we've gotten
a hold of NVIDIA's new 52.16 drivers. As always, no
rest for the weary. We'll be here to give you the play
by play and we'll also keep trying to beat down the
marketing weasels in the process.
By the way,
NVIDIA also launched their answer to the Radeon 9600XT,
the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra today. Check out Rob's
article on that one. I hear it's an impressive
solution at a more reasonable price point!
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