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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [03.15.04]
Manufactured by: Gigabyte

 Street Price: $430 on NewEgg

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The 5950 supports VIVO natively. All that is needed is a dongle to make the individual S-Video and Composite connections available. It is also dual output capable, using one VGA and one DVI connector. If you have two VGA monitors, you can use the DVI > VGA adapter.

The video dongle is probably the best I have seen yet; no other connectors or adapters are required. However there were no video cables in the box! You'll need to find your own if you want video output or input.

The Bundle

The software bundle is pretty big, and there is some good, some bad, and some ugly inside:

The Good has to be the inclusion of the full version of "Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield". The Bad would be the inclusion of "Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness". Then there is the nearly three-year-old budget RPG title "Arx Fatalis". Also included is PowerDVD for your DVD needs.

Overclocking Util

If this card was meant to be overclocked, they had better include an Overclocking software utility!

V-Tuner is Gigabyte's answer to my question. It is a very basic application that only really supports overclocking, and that's about it. Personally I would rather enable the driver-based overclocking page, but V-Tuner is available to you if you need it.

The Test

Here is the system used for testing all video cards:

CPU: Pentium 4 3.4 GHz "Northwood"
Motherboard: DFI Lanparty PRO875B
RAM: 1GB MB Corsair XMS4400 (at stock DDR400)
HDD: Seagate Barracuda IV 80GB ATA100
OS: WinXP with SP1 and DirectX 9b

ATI Catalyst 4.3 (WHQL Certified)
NVIDIA Detonator 56.56 (WHQL Certified)

We used the 56.56 drivers, which are pretty much 99% complete (they are even WHQL certified), but there is a known problem with Unreal Tournament 2004 demo, where performance is lower than normal. We don't use that game to benchmark yet, so that won't pose a problem at all.

Note the CPU! We are using Intel's latest 3.4 GHz Northwood! (3.4 GHz Prescott is still under embargo however, but 3.4 GHz Northwood is public).

For test purposes, I ran the card at the rated 520 Mhz speed, and also downclocked it to the normal 475 MHz rate that the GFFX 5950 Ultra normally runs at. This should give you an idea of what this guaranteed overclock will do for you.

Also, the Radeon 9800XT card we used is actually a Radeon 9800 Pro 256, which is absolutely identical to the XT, except in clock speed (and inclusion of Half Life 2 of course). So we overclocked it to reflect the performance of a true 9800XT.

We did almost every test in 3 modes per card. These modes are ones that most gamers will actually use when they play games.

1024x768 - To produce a real gaming environment many will use
1600x1200 - To produce a high resolution gaming environment (for you boys with big monitors!)
1024x768 w/ 4xAA and 8x Aniso - A gaming environment most high end users will use

On with the show!

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