Right, this is it. The Leadtek WinFast A350TD Ultra is the fastest graphics card in this group test, bar none. Of course it helps that this is the only card that has a GeForce FX5900 Ultra chip, so it really ought to be the fastest nVidia card on test, but we feel it also blows the Radeon contenders out of the water across our broad test suite.
Take a close look at our graphs and compare the results of this 256MB Ultra card, the Chaintech FX5900, the MSI FX5900 and the Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB.
Although you can argue the toss about 3DMark 2001 SE and Unreal Tournament 2003 where the 9800 Pro looks very good indeed at low resolutions, as soon as the settings are turned up the A350 Ultra TDH comes into its own.
In 3DMark03 and Serious Sam 2 the Leadtek romps away from the field at all settings.
Now you may feel that we haven't made our case for FX5900 Ultra against Radeon 9800 Pro, so let's put it this way. If you're considering buying a graphics card for over Â£300 and you intend to run it at 1,024 x 768 with no FSAA and no AF then we'd like to talk to you about a bridge that we've got for sale. That and shares in a company mining for diamonds in the Pennines.
The Leadtek has amazing performance and as the settings are turned up it continues to deliver the goods, with playable frame rates and superb quality too. There is no reason to avoid using FSAA at all times with this card.
The really surprising thing about the Leadtek is that the performance isn't the first thing that you notice. This is one of the most visually striking graphics cards we have ever seen. It has a metal a cover that completely conceals the card inside. All you can see are the two cooling fans, the power connector and the gold finger connector that plugs into the AGP slot of your motherboard. The cover ensures that the cooling air is ducted over the chip and memory before it is expelled. This system is relatively noisy as the air rushes through narrow passageways but it is far quieter than, say, the heatsink fan unit on a typical Athlon PC.
There is one other downside to the metal cover, which is that it makes it quite tricky to release the AGP retention device to remove the card. That said, you won't have to do that very often so it's a minor quibble but at one stage we thought the card may be stuck for life in our test PC.
In addition to the performance, this Leadtek card also has a VIVO function, using the same splitter cable as the Leadtek A310TD and much the same software too, so that's Gun Metal, Big Mutha Truckers, Ulead VideoStudio 7SE and DVD MovieFactory 2SE, and it's worth mentioning that the Leadtek driver CD includes an interface for the Video software to make it as easy as possible to import video content.
The real surprise is that Leadtek charges the same price as Chaintech does for its FX5900 with 128MB of memory. At a shade under Â£400 this is an expensive card but it delivers the goods.
The A350 Ultra provides stunning performance coupled with VIVO functionality and a decent software bundle, ultimately winning it a Recommended award. If money really is no object and youâ€™re looking for a lightning fast graphics adapter, this card should be top of your list.