After careful consideration I have decided to transfer all hardware review activities to a new domain. I purchased Hardwareasylum.com in 2012 and have been working hard to build a new and improved Ninjalane on that domain. If you are reading this you have reached one of the archived articles, news, projects and/or reviews that were left behind during the site migration.
The FX 5700 Ultra is what I would call the "hot-rod" of the mid-range video card market since the chip is so versatile. The low-end versions start out as a basic performance card that are limited mostly by the components used, i.e. slower memory and reduced clock speed. As we climb the performance ladder the 5700 becomes an Ultra chip equipped with higher core speed and very high-end memory normally found on workstation class and top-of-the-line gaming cards. As we have seen in this review the FX 5700 Ultra benefits from the additional memory bandwidth (even on a small scale) and thus switching bottlenecks from onboard memory to the 128bit wide memory bus.
The XFX FX 5700 Ultra in this review is no exception, the card has been tested and tweaked by XFX not only to provide peak performance right from the box but also to allow manual tweaks by the user to further enhance overall performance. In this review alone we were able to push the 5700 Ultra core 90+ Mhz higher than default using the stock nVidia cooler, however with some voltage modifications and better cooling the chip could easily clock much higher than this. Pair the GPU with high-end memory like DDR3 and the additional speed can easily be accommodated for.
nVidia has specified that Samsung K4J55323QF-GC20 GDDR3 be used on the FX 5700 Ultra and has a maximum clock frequency of 500Mhz. Gainward has programmed their cards to run enhanced at this frequency whereas XFX has pushed the envelope and bumped the speed up an extra 10Mhz by default. With some manual overclocking this frequency was pushed an extra 40Mhz before any visual defects were seen. Ideally the sweet spot is someplace in the middle but 50Mhz over the maximum rated speed is not to shabby.
The XFX FX 5700 Ultra is truly a gamer card, built by gamers for gamers but I wouldn't limit its usage to just games, the dual DVI connections are perfect for any digital workstation.
Now for the ever popular list of Good things and Bad things.
The Good Things
Swanky Blue PCB
Comes mildly overclocked from the factory
Dual DVI video connections
GDDR3 on a mid-range card
Card is very overclockable
The Bad Things
Unexpected "Auto Detect" behavior
Stock cooling is rather loud
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