So, with no special features or overly generous bundles, why would you be interested in this card from Gainward instead of all the other GeForce FX 5900XT cards we’ve looked at? Well, as already mentioned, it’s the overclocking potential that makes this Gainward a more attractive proposition than your average 5900XT card. With the supplied utility you can increase the default speeds of 390/700MHz for the core/memory to 450/750MHz – that’s a pretty significant jump, especially when you consider that Gainward will still cover the card under warranty even at the enhanced speeds.
Although I didn’t have time to run a full set of benchmarks in what Gainward refers to as enhanced mode, you will still be able to see a healthy performance increase across the board. In 3DMark 2001SE the gain was most prominent with FSAA disabled, although you can see a small increase in performance with it on as well. Moving on to 3DMark03 the increase isn’t quite as dramatic, but you still gain around 500 points, although again with anti-aliasing enabled the increase in performance is far smaller.
Moving on to Aquamark and X2: The Threat, we see a performance increase of about 4-5fps on average, but again with no FSAA. The same goes for Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness and Halo. All in all this proves that overclocking does have an effect on performance, as long as you do it right.
The benchmark scores from the FX 5900XT Ultra/1100XT Golden Sample at standard clock speeds are pretty much in line with those seen from other FX 5900XT cards, which is what I expected to see. But what you are getting is a very attractive price point, with this Gainward retailing at a mere £126.00 inc VAT. This makes it the cheapest FX 5900XT card that we’ve seen – a fact that is even more impressive when you take the manufacturer-supported overclocking into account. In fact, the only downside to this whole story is that for only £15 more you can get a Radeon 9800 Pro.
It might not be the fastest graphics card around, but enable the enhanced mode and you get a reasonable performance increase. If you definitely want a GeForce 5900XT card, this is the one to go for. The price is low and you can overclock it without being paranoid about damaging anything.