Gainward Golden Sample Ultra/1600XP GeForce FX 5900 Ultra 256MB
A retail FX 5900 Ultra !
We had a look at NVIDIA's performance powerhouse of an AGP card about two months ago. The FX 5900 Ultra redressed some of the more obvious failings present in the NV30 (FX 5800 Ultra). Of foremost concern to most potential users was the lack of memory bandwidth, inhibited by a meagre 128-bit memory bus. Sure, 1GHz DDR-II looked mighty impressive on paper, and it surely wowed a number of punters, but it translated into 'only' 16GB/s of theoretical bandwidth, assuming we factored out the compression and bandwidth-saving techniques employed by the card.
The reference 5900 Ultra arrived with 450/850 clocks for the GPU and memory respectively. Add to that an architecture that was broadly similar to a Radeon 9800's, save for the confusion of whether the card had 4 or 8 rendering pipelines, and it became clear that NVIDIA were back on the performance track.
It's now the turn of a big-name manufacturer to release a full retail FX 5900 Ultra. The manufacturer in question is none other than Gainward - the company that loves to have 10 different models based on a single GPU. This review's objective is not to trawl through the technical specifications of the card. If you want to do that, may we point you here and here. We'll be focusing on what, if anything, makes this card different from the rest. We'll then compare it to two of ATi's champion cards.
Time to take a look at a card that arrives with the longest name possible. The Gainward Golden Sample Ultra/1600XP GeForce FX 5900 Ultra 256MB is under Hexus examination. Let Dr. Tarinder guide you through the review.