When NVIDIA originally announced
the GeForce FX 5950 Ultra, MSI quickly released a card that
adhered strictly to NVIDIA's reference design, right down to
the green PCB and dual-slot cooler. The card we'll be
looking at today strays a bit from NVIDIA's reference design
though. With the "red PCB" revision of the their
FX5950 Ultra-VTD256, MSI gave the card ViVo capabilities and
they installed a serious custom cooling solution...
The MSI FX5950 Ultra-VTD256
Tour Of MSI's Red PCB
Other than its bright red color,
the FX5950 Ultra-VTD256's underlying PCB doesn't stray from
NVIDIA's reference design. The component layout and
connector placement is identical, and the default core and
memory clocks are also in-line with NVIDIA's recommendations
(2D = 300MHz / 950MHz | 3D = 475MHz / 950MHz).
The coolers...yes, that's plural...however, look nothing
like the dual-slot monsters found on some other 5950 Ultras.
The TOP Tech. (Thermal Obviation Protection) cooling
solution installed on this card consists of three copper
plated components. The front of the card is equipped
with a one large, finned heatsink / fan combo, that covers
the GPU and front mounted memory chips. The rear of
the card is also equipped with a heatsink / fan combination
over the backside of the GPU, with a "U" shaped heatsink
covering the remaining memory chips. Both fans are
connected to a single header on the PCB, so they
concurrently spin up and down depending on what mode the
card is operating in. While in 2D mode, the fans spin
very slowly, but when a 3D application is launched they spin
faster to ensure the GPU and memory is kept cool. We
found MSI's TOP Tech. setup to be very effective - after
hours of benchmarking, GPU temps remained in the lower 40C
range. While idle, temps remained in the mid-30s.
Bundled Video Editor
As we mentioned earlier, the MSI
FX5950 Ultra-VTD256 has ViVo (Video-In / Video-Out)
functionality. To help take advantage of this feature,
MSI included a few useful utilities and applications.
The most notable of which is Intervideo's WinDVD creator.
With WinDVD creator, users can Capture, Edit and Author
video clips using a single, relatively simple interface.
WinDVD creator also gives users the ability to burn their
movies directly to DVD, but we weren't able to test this
specific functionality with our video test system because it
was not equipped with a DVD burner. The screen shots
above represent WinDVD Creator's "Capture", "Edit" and
"Author" menus. As you can see, the interface is very
straightforward, and should be easy to navigate for anyone
familiar to working with this type of app.
In-Game Screenshots With The MSI FX5950
Unreal Tournament 2004 is Almost Here!
comprehensive image quality comparisons between a Radeon
9800 XT and GeForce FX 5950 Ultra,
Unreal Tournament 2004 Demo
1024x768 | 4X AA | 8X Anisotropic Filtering
The main reason for buying a
high-end graphics card like the MSI FX5950 Ultra-VTD256 is,
of course, gaming! Before we get influenced by its
benchmark scores, we like to install the video card we're
reviewing into our test system, and just play some games.
We spent some time playing Need For Speed: Underground,
Prince of Persia - The Sands of Time, and as of last night
we were able to squeeze in a couple of hours with the Unreal
Tournament 2004 demo. We thought the MSI FX5950 Ultra
performed excellently with all of the games we played.
A High-Res (1600x1200) gaming setup with all of the "bells and
whistles" enabled was completely playable, as was gaming at
lower resolutions with 4X AA and 8X Anisotropic filtering.
Whatever your preference, you'll probably be more than
pleased with the FX5950 Ultra...
The Test System, AquaMark3 & Halo