NVIDIA GeForce FX 5800 Ultra: It's Here, but is it Good?by Anand Lal Shimpi on January 27, 2003 3:50 AM EST
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With a near perfect record of execution, NVIDIA inspired great expectations when details first started leaking out about their next-generation GPU: NV30. But when ATI's Radeon 9700 was announced, launched and released to the public and we had still not seen as much as a demo of NV30 from NVIDIA, everyone began to worry.
Rumors ran rampant (as they always do) but it was none other than TSMC's 0.13-micron manufacturing process that kept NV30 from meeting its original release target, as well as its revised schedule. Just before the release of Matrox's Parhelia, NVIDIA briefed us on NV30 and promised a tape-out in May and retail availability in August. The part was sure to be a powerhouse and boasted some very impressive specifications, including a 350 - 400MHz core clock (which later turned out to be a significant understatement).
Once August rolled around and we had seen no signs of NV30, we finally got word from NVIDIA of the chip's revised schedule - now due out in the November/December timeframe. Not surprising at all, NVIDIA announced NV30 as the GeForce FX on the first day of Comdex in Vegas and they actually had working silicon up and running. We were told to be ready around Thanksgiving, presumably to start testing the boards but as you can guess, that didn't happen.
Fast forwarding to the present day, it was no less than 4 days ago that NVIDIA contacted us and told us that our GeForce FX 5800 Ultra was in the mail and we'd have the weekend to get our review ready. Not willing to step down from a challenge we put our other tests aside and readied the systems to begin our long awaited review of the GeForce FX.
By now you already know everything there is to know about the architecture of NV30 and the GeForce FX, but in case you aren't be sure to take a look at our GeForce FX Technology Preview to familiarize yourself with the chip. With this review we'll focus on answering the questions we've all had for the past several months - pricing, performance and in the end, how well the GeForce FX compares to the Radeon 9700 Pro. So without further ado, we introduce you to the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra and its sibling, the GeForce FX 5800.