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So onto performance. Our first point of comparison would be with the MSi 5700 Ultra card that we reviewed back in January that used GDDR2. The problem however is that the MSi card was tested on a 2.6GHz Pentium 4, so results can’t be directly compared to our current 3.2GHz Prescott and 3.4GHz Extreme Edition test systems.
The next best comparison would be with a card based on an ATi Radeon 9800 Pro, as these are now available at around the same price. However the last 9800 Pro board we reviewed was also tested on a 2.6GHz Intel Pentium 4 machine. However, it’s still worth picking out some key results.
Even on a 2.6GHz processor a Connect3D Radeon 9800 Pro reached 68.2 FPS in Unreal Tournament 2003 at a resolution of 1,600 x 1,200, while even with a 3.2GHz system under it the XFX could only manage 34.4 –virtually half the score. The Serious Sam 2 test uses OpenGL, which would tend to favour nVidia with its stronger driver support for that API. However, even here the Radeon 9800 Pro backed by a slower CPU, is faster than the XFX GeForce 5700 Ultra GDDR3. At a resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 with 4x FSAA the Radeon 9800 Pro reaches 58fps while the XFX 5700 Ultra can only manage 47.7fps.
The ultimate test right now for a graphics card is how it fares with Far Cry. A game that eats up whatever graphics and CPU combination you feed it. We put the XFX GeForceFX 5700 Ultra to work on this at a bog standard resolution of 1024 x 768 with no FSAA or AF. Bearing in mind that we run this test with Far Cry options all set to maximum, the XFX could only pull in 32.98fps - barely a pass mark.
Clearly, the 128bit memory interface is still a bottleneck, meaning that for the price a 5700 Ultra card –GDDR3 or not, is just an OK performer. And while nVidia is concentrating on regaining the high-end performance crown from ATi it’s neglecting the important £150 mark. If you’re looking to spend that kind of money, an ATi Radeon 9800 Pro is the only sensible way to go.
However, lets not forget dual DVI. This is the only real selling point for the card and if you want this admittedly great feature, without spending top dollar for the high-end GeForce 6800 Ultra, then this XFX is worth a look – as long as you’re willing to put up with poor value 3D performance.
With much faster cards available for less money the GeForce FX 5700 Ultra is already past it at this price – the use of GDDR3 does nothing to disguise its failings, leaving dual DVI as its only saving grace. XFX did very well getting the first retail GeForce 6800 Ultra product onto the market, but with this card it's flogging a dead horse.