When we received the big FX Power Pack from Gainward, we wondered how large the card was to warrant such humongous packaging. On opening the box, the monstrous graphic card with huge heat sinks on its front and back was indeed a sight to see. The device is really thick and will occupy the neighbouring PCI slot as well because of the elevated heat sink fins that ventilate hot air from above the core. It has a Molex power connector (like the one that goes to the hard disk) to quench the thirst for power of this card.
The fan varies its speed according to the load placed on the card. It's quiet and runs at low speeds when working with non graphic-intensive applications, but whines like a jet turbine the moment a user enters the world of 3D.
This card has some features that no other card has. The Ultra runs at a clock speed of 500 MHz, with its memory clocked at 1 GHz. It supports the latest industry standards, such as DX9 or OpenGL 1.4, vertex and Pixel shader 2.0, etc., which means the user will get to see more realistic water, grass and walls in games. There are some issues over the pixel per clock nVidia claims it''s 8 pixels per clock, but in some cases such as Z rendering + colour, it reduces to 4 pixels. All said and done, the specifications look pretty good on paper, making the card decently future proof.
The card is indeed a performance warehouse, giving a high score of 286.7 fps in Quake III at a 1280 x 1024 x 32 resolution. The scene in Serious Sam SE was the same. Although the Cathedral demo started with a few jerks, there was no stopping Sam in his killing spree. Everything was rendered instantaneously and without any kind of artifacting or jaggedness. In VulpineGL Mark, the 3D world was rendered with easethe whole benchmark finished in half the time that the SiS Xabre600 took with a score of 59.9 fps at 1280 x 1024 x 32.
This card still isn''t the fastest card overall, because the 9800 Pro from ATi is already out and has an improved and faster core. The 9700 Pro still manages to take the lead in many benchmarks and is available at a lower price. Only games such as Doom 3, when released, will tell us which card is better for the games of the future. On the price front, this card is unaffordable to the majority, but the privileged few who can afford it will get a 5.1 channel sound card, a FireWire card, a Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project game CD and InterVideo WinCinema DVD playback software.
Specifications: 125 million transistors, 0.13 micron fabrication process, DirectX 9 and OpenGL 1.4 compliant, 500 MHz core clock, 1 GHz memory clock, 128 MB DDR II memory.