iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Gainward FX PowerPack Ultra/760 XP Golden Sample

on NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra (400 MHz revision)

June 25, 2003


  1. Video card's features
  2. Testbed configuration, test tools, 2D quality
  3. Performance comparison
  4. Conclusion

Imagine that you are about to buy a new car, say, Mercelada ABC-333. You like it and you have enough money. But unexpectedly they say that the car has been improved, the engine has got better characteristics and the price is promised to be the same. The sales are expected a bit later... You understand that and decide to wait a bit more... But when you see this car in a store under the same trade mark you realize that the engine is the same.

How do you feel? First of all, you feel deceived. Also, it's clear that the improved car will be more expensive, and finally, how to tell the newer model from the older one when the trade mark and name are the same?

This is what happened to the GeForce FX 5600 Ultra. NVIDIA put off the 
release of these chips in order to improve the product, lift up the core and memory speeds. The reviews below will give you an idea of the previously announced 5600 Ultra.

Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards which concern functional properties of the GPU NVIDIA GeForce FX

This is the video card clocked at 350/350 (700) MHz. But soon after announcement of the GeForce FX 5900 we found out that NVIDIA started accelerating the 5600 Ultra. It was clear that the 400 MHz revision should be able to work at 400 MHz and get faster memory so that a user can have a more efficient product at the same money. That was the dream and that would have been a right step. 

But the real situation was a bit different. Well, the 400 MHz revision is finished, and we will test it today. And card makers have already started developing such cards. But the sad thing is that NVIDIA deceived users and maybe its partners by delivering them the old 5600 Ultra chips. The markets is now filled with video cards based on the GeForce FX 5600 Ultra 350/350 (700) MHz instead of 400/400 (800) MHz (if we look at the characteristics of the 5600 Ultra at NVIDIA's site, we will see that it has 1600 M texels; divide it by 4 texture units and you will get the core clock equal to 400 MHz).

Why do the currently sold 5600 Ultra 350 MHz have the same name, why not 5600 Ultra LE or SE? Or why not to name the 400MHz cards 5600 Super-Ultra? 

Gainward offers only one model based on this processor and we will examine this card today. The company didn't start production of 350MHz cards in favor of the 400MHz ones. That's a logical step. But what about Ultras from Leadtek, Albatron and others? Would such respected card makers pass less efficient solutions off as the Ultra cards? I doubt it.

Probably, the production of the 400MHz chips was delayed and NVIDIA decided on selling some 350MHz chips to vendors to get some profit. The manufacturers decided that they would make 400 MHz cards later under another name, and started production of 350MHz cards. But nobody has solved the dilemma: the GPUs have the same name.

We could witness similar situations in the past when the RADEON in the OEM package was clocked at 166 MHz and in the Retail one at 183 MHz. Besides, there were RADEON 7500 cards working both at 250 and at 290 MHz. But it is the first time when the clock speed of the same GPU can differ by 50 MHz.

Well, the Internet users and those who read reviews can be aware of such tricks, but what about those who are deprived of the Internet? Poor users! 

I recommend that you carefully examine every video card based on the GeForce FX 5600 Ultra to find out what speed it has.

Now the Gainward's solution. There is only one 5600 Ultra based model and it is clocked at 400/400 (800) MHz. The company itself is one of the oldest Taiwanese manufacturers and our readers know it quite well. The peculiarity of this card is that the Golden Sample line includes cards with carefully selected chips and with faster than recommended memory.

So, today we are dealing with a card of this line which is based on the GeForce FX 5600 Ultra chip.


Gainward FX PowerPack Ultra/760 XP Golden Sample

AGP x8/x4/x2 interface, 128 MB DDR SDRAM in 8 chips on the front and back PCB sides.
Gainward FX PowerPack Ultra/760 XP Golden Sample
Hynix memory chips of 2.2ns access time; it corresponds to 454 (908) MHz. The memory is clocked at 400 (800) MHz, the GPU runs at 400 MHz (50 MHz over the old revision). 128bit memory interface.

Comparison with the reference design, front view
Gainward FX PowerPack Ultra/760 XP Golden Sample Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra

Comparison with the reference design, back view
Gainward FX PowerPack Ultra/760 XP Golden Sample Reference card NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 Ultra


The design looks like the reference one, but there is some difference. The PCB design is actually less complicated and, therefore, cheaper.

Now comes the cooler.

Gainward FX PowerPack Ultra/760 XP Golden Sample
The cooler looks like a flame tip. I wish this sample would have the red PCB instead of the green one of the reference solution because the flame would look much more effective. The memory is covered with heatsinks which are properly glued to the chips.


The card's bundled with the Philips 7114 codec for VIVO control:

The TV-out functions lie on the shoulders of the GeForce FX 5600 chip (the Philips 7114 is used only for VI). 

As usual, the GPU GeForce FX 5600 rests under the cooler:

Have a look at the FlipChip package which was earlier used for speedy FX 5800/5900 cards. This package with a peculiar cover is the distinguishing feature of the 400 MHz revision of the 5600 Ultra:

The PCB is protected from pickups, the section with the memory chips is well shielded:

Now let's see what the box contains: 

Gainward FX PowerPack Ultra/760 XP Golden Sample 
User Guide, CDs with drivers and utilities, WinDVD, s/w for VIVO, adapters and extenders for TV-out (for VIVO as well), DVI-to-d-Sub adapter, and FireWire controller.

The card ships in the retail package. 

Gainward FX PowerPack Ultra/760 XP Golden Sample 
It comes in a big colorful box. Unfortunately, all necessary data including the chip name are written on one sticker in a small print.


Testbed and drivers


  • Pentium 4 3200 MHz based computer:
    • Intel Pentium 4 3200 MHz CPU;
    • DFI LANParty Pro875 (i875P) mainboard; 
    • 1024 MB DDR SDRAM; 
    • Seagate Barracuda IV 40GB HDD; 
    • Windows XP SP1; DirectX 9.0a;
    • ViewSonic P810 (21") and ViewSonic P817 (21") monitors.
    • NVIDIA drivers v44.65.

VSync off, S3TC off in applications.

Cards used for comparison:

  • Gainward Powerpack4 Ultra/750 (GeForce Ti 4600, 300/325 (650) MHz, 128 MB);
  • ATI RADEON 9600 PRO (400/300 (600) MHz, 128 MB, driver 6.343);
  • MSI FX5600 128-VTD (GeForce FX 5600, 325/275 (550) MHz, 128 MB).

Test results

Before we start examining 2D quality, I should say there are no complete techniques for objective 2D quality estimation because: 

  1. 2D quality much depends on certain samples for almost all modern 3D accelerators; 
  2. Besides videocards, 2D quality depends on monitors and cables; 
  3. Moreover, certain monitors might not work properly with certain video cards. 

With the ViewSonic P817 monitor and BNC Bargo cable the card showed excellent quality at the following resolutions and clock speeds:

Gainward FX PowerPack Ultra/760 XP Golden Sample  1600x1200x85Hz, 1280x1024x120Hz, 1024x768x160Hz (nothing wrong with the quality!)


Test results: comparison of the cards' performance

Conventional signs: ANISO 8xP - Anisotropic 8x Performance (earlier it was called Balanced), ANISO 8xQ - Anisotropic 8x Quality, ANISO 16xQ - Anisotropic 16x Quality.

Test applications:

  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein (MultiPlayer) (id Software/Activision) - OpenGL, multitexturing, Checkpoint-demo, test settings - maximum, S3TC OFF, the configurations can be downloaded from here

  • Serious Sam: The Second Encounter v.1.05 (Croteam/GodGames) - OpenGL, multitexturing, Grand Cathedral demo, test settings: quality, S3TC OFF 

  • Quake3 Arena v.1.17 (id Software/Activision) - OpenGL, multitexturing, Quaver, test settings - maximum: detailing level - High, texture detailing level - #4, S3TC OFF, smoothness of curves is much increased through variables r_subdivisions "1" and r_lodCurveError "30000" (at default r_lodCurveError is 250 !), the configurations can be downloaded from here

  • Unreal Tournament 2003 Demo (Digital Extreme/Epic Games) - Direct3D, Vertex Shaders, Hardware T&L, Dot3, cube texturing, default quality

  • Code Creatures Benchmark Pro (CodeCult) - the game that demonstrates card's operation in DirectX 8.1, Shaders, HW T&L.

  • AquaMark (Massive Development) the game that demonstrates card's operation in DirectX 8.1, Shaders, HW T&L.

  • RightMark 3D v.0.4 (one of game scenes) - DirectX 8.1, Dot3, cube texturing, shadow buffers, vertex and pixel shaders (1.1, 1.4).

Quake3 Arena, Quaver


Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, Grand Cathedral


Return to Castle Wolfenstein (Multiplayer), Checkpoint


Code Creatures


Unreal Tournament 2003 DEMO




RightMark 3D


It's obvious that this card is unequaled when the AA and/or anisotropy are enabled (except the tests based on shader technologies). Remember that it's stupid to use modern accelerators without these quality improving functions enabled. Does the 5600 Ultra justify the money users pay for such cards? If you have a GeForce4 Ti and you are interested in AA and/or anisotropy it doesn't make sense to consider cards weaker than GeForce FX 5800 (or RADEON 9700 PRO). But if you want to replace your old card with something like the GeForce4 Ti 4600, then you should look at the GeForce Fx 5600 Ultra.


The Gainward FX PowerPack Ultra/760 XP Golden Sample can give you:

  1. a higher speed in AA and/or anisotropy than its competitors (RADEON 9600 or GF4Ti 4200); 
  2. potentially more technological solution with the DX9 support (such games are right around the corner already);
  3. VIVO support.

In our 3Digest you can find full comparison characteristics for video cards of this and other classes. 

Again, remember that there are two types of the GeForce FX 5600 Ultra cards on the market - with the frequency of 350MHz and 400 MHz. Be careful! 

Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

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