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Gigabyte GV-N595U GeForce FX5950 Ultra review

Gigabyte GV-N595U GeForce FX5950 Ultra review - PCSTATS
Abstract: We recently got the chance to take a look at Nvidia's latest graphics processor release, the FX5950 Ultra chip, as thoughtfully provided by Gigabyte in their GV-N595U video card.
 82% Rating:   
Filed under: Video Cards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Gigabyte Jan 06 2004   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Video Cards > Gigabyte GV-N595U

The Nvidia FX5950 Ultra GPU

The FX5950 is the current flagship of Nvidia's newest graphics processor line. Succeeding the FX5900 and FX5900 Ultra, it is Nvidia's current 'high end' offering intended for gaming and benchmark enthusiasts.

The GPU itself is identical to the FX5900, with the core and memory rates increased to 475Mhz and 950Mhz respectively (a jump of 25Mhz for the core and 100Mhz for the memory over the 'ultra' version). This gives it an effective bandwidth of 30GB per second as opposed to the 5900 Ultra's 27.2GB/s.

Like the Ultra, the FX5950 comes equipped with an impressive 256MB of DDR RAM. The FX5950 also sports a brand new cooling solution which moves away from the traditional 'fan-on-heatsink-on-GPU' design seen in most videocards. Instead, Nvidia has instituted a sort of wind tunnel design, with the fan drawing cool air from outside the case through the tunnel and over the enclosed heatsink, then out into the case.

Rather logical when you think about it, as opposed to cooling the GPU with the already heated internal air of the case. I suspect however that this reference design won't be adopted by many manufacturers in the long run. Because the card takes up two full slots in the PC, there is bound to be some grumbling from consumers on the matter.

Like its FX5900 cousin, the 5950 uses thermal throttling to reduce the speed (and noise) of the fan when the card is not being heavily used. Thermal sensors are also used as a safeguard to prevent the core from being damaged by excessive heat, as the card will slow itself down to prevent this, similar to the failsafe measure present in Intel's Pentium 4 line of processors.

The Gigabyte GV-N595U's cooling solution is what attracts the most immediate attention. It looks like Gigabyte essentially bolted one of those old PCI bay exhaust fans on top of the hefty aluminum heat sink covering the GPU.

Of course, in this case, the fan sucks cool air in from outside the case and blows it over the heatsink, then vents the heated air into the case. The memory chips on the front and back of the card are passively cooled by a pair of large green anodized aluminum plates.

Once the card is plugged in and running through benchmarks, the air being vented into the case is quite toasty warm, as is the front ramsink, which under load was too hot to touch. The rear ramsink remained merely warm however. This is unsurprising as it appears to have considerably more surface area.

A laser thermal sensor used on both heatsinks directly above the memory chips gave reading of 36 degrees for the front and 45 degrees for the back, which seems odd at first glance, since as we stated, the front heatsink is noticeably hotter to the touch.

Considering the increased surface area of the rear heatsink though, it is likely that the majority of the heat generated by the memory, and possibly some of the residual heat from the core (since the rear sink covers the area of the card behind the GPU also) is being handled by it. It's worth noting that the rear ramsink design has changed considerably from the original reference card, which had a design similar to the one seen on the front ramsink. Heat problems perhaps?

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Contents of Article: Gigabyte GV-N595U
 Pg 1.  Gigabyte GV-N595U GeForce FX5950 Ultra review
 Pg 2.  — The Nvidia FX5950 Ultra GPU
 Pg 3.  Alternative cooling solution
 Pg 4.  Overclocking the GV-N595U Benchmarks
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: Code creatures, AquaMark3
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: Gun Metal 2, 3DMark2001SE
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: AquaMark 2.3, Unreal Tournament 2003
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: Quake III Arena
 Pg 9.  Antialiasing and Anisotropic filtering Benchmarks
 Pg 10.  Benchmarks: 3DMark2001, Quake III Arena w/AF
 Pg 11.  Benchmarks: 3DMark2001, Quake III Arena w/AA+AF
 Pg 12.  Observations and conclusions

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