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About a month ago I had a close encounter with nVidia’s new FX5950 Ultra reference card. As retail cards are starting to make an appearance TrustedReviews has managed to get hold of the latest boards from Leadtek and MSI. So what makes these cards different from the reference design, well to be honest, not a great deal.

As with most graphics cards in recent times both boards are based on the reference design with a few added features or tweaks. It’s a real shame that graphics card manufacturers feel that it’s not worth spending too much time developing their own solutions. This means that you could in reality almost any card with the same chipset would perform very similarly.

But to give both Leadtek and MSI some credit, they have managed to add a couple of extra features over the reference design, especially Leadtek.

To give you a quick recap of the GeForce FX5950 Ultra, this is the latest and greatest 3D graphics solution from nVidia. The GPU is clocked at 475MHz in most cases whereas the memory is clocked at 950MHz. Both Leadtek and MSI have followed nVidia’s reference specifications here, which is a bit of a shame as there are other companies such as Gainward that offers higher clocked cards.

One thing that I didn’t expect was the comparatively low asking price for the FX5950 Ultra cards, especially compared to its older sibling the FX5900 Ultra. But more on that in the separate reviews over the next couple of pages.

So, if you’ve been holding off buying a new graphics card until production boards appeared based on the FX5950 chipset, wait no more and cast an eye over the latest offerings from Leadtek and MSI.

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