PowerPack! Ultra/1800 XP Review - Page 1 of 9
By Clay Angelly - February 1, 2004
Don't you hate it when you read a review about a video card that's been out
for a while yet the reviewer makes it sound like he's the first (only) person on
earth to lay eyes on it? Suffice it to say, this review will most definitely not
be like that.
You all know that this particular card has been out for a few
months now...and you know that NVIDIA and ATI will likely be releasing their
next generation cards sometime this spring. So, we'll try to find out what
would, or would not, compel you to purchase this video card with this timing
issue in mind (more on that in the conclusion of this review).
If you want to know all the nitty gritty particulars
about the NVIDIA 5950 Ultra then I highly recommend that you head over to
Mike's always thorough preview of the NVIDIA GeForce FX 5950 Ultra. So, now
that you've read that there's no need in re-hashing it all again here. We're going
to focus on what's hot and not about this Gainward product and see how much more
overclocking we can squeeze out of it in particular.
PowerPack! Ultra/1800 XP
This is a review of just this single Gainward card and not a head-to-head
review. I do not have an ATI 9800XT for comparison but I will mirror a few of
the benchmarks from
Mike's preveiw article for some form of comparison to the NVIDIA reference
design (of which Gainward diverts from in some improved ways).
Let's dive in. I'd like to touch on the obligatory specs, software bundle,
Gainward quality and then a few benchmarks.
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 40GB 7200RPM ATA-133 Hard Disk Drive (2)
Hitachi CM721F CRT Monitor - 19-Inch
Vantec iON 400 Watt PSU
Gainward FX PowerPack! Ultra/1800 XP GeForce FX 5950 Ultra - 256MB - 500MHz/1000MHz
NVIDIA Forceware Graphics Driver Version 53.03
32-Bit Color / Vsync Disabled / 85Hz Refresh Rate
Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 1 / DirectX 9.0b
Turbo Memory Setting
166MHz Front Side Bus
Memory Timings 2-2-2-4
3DMark03 Build 340
Call of Duty
Halo Combat Evolved
Unreal Tournament 2003
X2 The Rolling Demo
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
All overclocking was done via the provided Gainward EXPERTool utility.
All applications tested were patched to their latest version.
All test were run at the default "Enhanced Mode" of 500/1000 and further
overclocked settings of 555/1050. Any exceptions are noted in each benchmark
Antialiasing and anisotropic filtering were always configured using the
NVIDIA driver control panel.
Gameplay tests were conducted with in-game sound options set to each games
Gameplay tests were conducted with in-game graphics options set to their
highest quality. Any exceptions are noted in each benchmark section.
FRAPS was used to capture average frame rates
for some benchmarks.
Halo does not support antialiasing.
All framerates shown are the average frame rate,or the framerate
reported by the games' timedemos.
Unless otherwise stated, all games' video settings were maxed out to the
Unless otherwise stated, all games' audio settings were left at their
Gainward's Golden Sample™ Edition
With hand picked 3D graphics processor and carefully qualified high-quality
memory chips, Gainward's famous Golden Sample™ products feature "enhance mode"
with factory-preset, over-clocked graphics core and memory speeds. Each Golden
Sample™ product is guaranteed to outperform NVIDIA standard reference design
with rock-solid stability.
NOTE: This sucker in "enhanced mode" is at 500MHz core clock and 1000MHz
(25 and 50MHz faster than the reference design respectively). This may be news
to some of you that read earlier reviews based on an earlier BIOS. My contact at
Gainward informed me that some very early BIOS versions were set to 485/970. The
latest version "V32GDD00.ROM" (in all current retail packages), however, is at
500/1000 in enhanced mode. What's great about Gainward's enhanced mode with
Golden Sample products is not only the increased (and stable) speeds but you are
still fully under warranty in doing so.
Comparison Between Standard and Golden
As you can see from the chart above, this piece of hardware pushes all of the
current bounds of video cards.