First out is the Leadtek WinFast A380 Ultra TDH MyVivo, which is ranked pretty high in the â€˜longest graphics card nameâ€™ table. If you read my review of the reference card from nVidia you will notice that Leadtek has not used the reference cooler but rather developed its own quite snazzy design.
I do however have some concerns about the cooler, as the reference design allows for the hot air from the GPU to be sucked out of the case. With the Leadtek card this is not the case and all the hot air from the GPU is being circulated back inside the case. The card is slimmer but not slim enough to allow you to fit a PCI card in the slot adjacent to it. Leadtek covers the fans on its graphics cards with a metal mesh that should prevent dust getting stuck to the fins and slowing the fan down, but if the mesh gets clogged with dust it could produce an even greater detrimental effect.
One other thing with regards to the heatsink, if you have a motherboard with a retention mechanism for graphics cards, it is quite hard to get to the release catch on some of these as the heatsink protrudes over it. Of course this isnâ€™t really an issue until the day you want to remove the card.
The WinFast A380 Ultra does have one unique feature that I have only seen as an option on ATi graphics cards in the US and that is component video output. This is a great feature if you have a TV or projector that is capable of handling component input as it offers superior image quality to composite and S-Video. The card also features composite and S-Video output as well as input. There is of course also a set of cables supplied that consists of a composite and an S-Video cable, a power splitter and the ViVo dongle. There is also a DVI to D-SUB adapter in the box that allows you to use the card with two analogue monitors.
Leadtek has a reputation for putting together a decent software bundle with its cards and it hasnâ€™t skimped here either. Inside the box youâ€™ll find Ulead Video studio SE DVD, Ulead cool 3D SE, WinFast PVR, WinFastDVD, Cult 3D, Gun Metal and Big Mutha Truckers. Software bundles arenâ€™t always worth the discs theyâ€™re written to, but in this case there is actually some useful apps included.
Overall this is quite an impressive package, but no matter how impressive the bundled accessories and software are, itâ€™s the performance of the hardware that determines whether or not a graphics card is worth purchasing. If you read the reference card review youâ€™ll already have a rough idea of how well the FX5950Ultra performs.
The Winfast A380 Ultra doesnâ€™t add anything to the reference card in terms of performance and itâ€™s neck and neck with the MSI card in most of the tests. Both cards where tested with the drivers supplied in the box, this was done because the MSI drivers form part if its overclocking utility.
Leadtek does supply its own overclocking tool however, WinFox, but this is not integrated into the driver. This means that you can use it with any nVidia driver, which in turn means that if there is a new driver release you can still overclock your card. Usually we donâ€™t overclock cards, but there seems to be a lot of success overclocking the FX5950Ultra so I gave it a go. Without pushing the card too much I hit speeds of 525MHz for the core and 1000MHz for the memory. Quickly testing the card in 3DMark 2003 showed an increase from 5919 to 6385, hardly breathtaking, but still a valid improvement.
As always, overclocking success depends on the components on the specific card so you might have more or less luck depending on how lucky you have been. Sometimes the memory chips on a graphics card are rated far higher than the official speed and can happily be pushed harder.
The Leadtek WinFast A380 Ultra TDH MyVivo is a quality FX5950Ultra card, but its most impressive attribute is the price, as it is well below Â£300. With a street price of Â£287.29 the Leadtek is the cheapest FX5950Ultra card available to date.
The cheapest GeForce FX5950Ultra card out there but that doesnâ€™t mean that itâ€™s a basic model. If you want ViVo functionality and high-quality component video output, youâ€™ll be very happy with the Leadtek bundle.