Affordable alternative?

Thanks to Albatron's quiet triple-fan cooling system (a spare fan kicks in for extra protection when the chip temperature rises to extremes), an overheating graphics card shouldn't be an issue.

The card may only have 128MB of memory but it is of the special DDR II type rather than the standard DDR RAM. Even the current crop of boards carrying NVIDIA's flagship FX 5950 chip only use DDR RAM.

With such high-end memory, it's no wonder that the 5700 Ultra's memory clock speed is impressive. The 450MHz (effectively 900MHz) produces a memory bandwidth of 14.4GBps that easily surpasses the 11.2GBps of the 5600 Ultra. Even more surprisingly, the Radeon 9600 XT lags far behind with a memory bandwidth of just 9.6GBps. In practice, this means that the FX 5700 Ultra should have far more room to juggle resource-intensive graphics data.

Its core clock speed of 475MHz is also fairly good, although the Radeon 9600XT does trump it with a round 500MHz. On top of the clock speeds, the pixel shaders, derived from the GeForce FX 5900's sophisticated architecture, are also a notch up on previous mid-range NVIDIA cards.

The 5700 Ultra was never going to get close to the Radeon 9800XT or GeForce FX 5950 Ultra chips. It comes with only half the number of pixel pipes, meaning that it takes much longer to draw graphics.

There's very little to choose from between this card and the Radeon 9600XT. In our graphics tests (Unreal Tournament, Halo, Aquamark III and Code Creatures), the XT just managed to average an extra 2fps more. The XT was also best on the DirectX 9.0 titles, suggesting that the 5700 Ultra could fall farther behind in the future.

Even with a sizeable games bundle and a discreet cooling system, the 5700 Ultra looks poor value for money compared to the competition.

Albatron GeForce FX 5700 Ultra
Price: $329
Distributor: AMI Computer Services
Phone: (07) 3808 9255
URL: www.ami-computers.com

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