Leading at high resolutions: GeForce FX 5900 Ultra

NVIDIA promotes its new GeForce FX 5900 Ultra chip as "the fastest GPU in history". It may be, but if so, it isn't by much. In tests with current games, our 5900 Ultra reference card, equipped with 256MB of SDRAM, gave a relatively small performance boost over an MSI FX 5800 Ultra-TD and a reference card based on ATI's Radeon 9800 Pro chip (both with 128MB) in the same PC.

The 5900 Ultra is far quieter than NVIDIA's GeForce FX 5800 Ultra, but it still occupies two slots. We're advised that boxed retail versions should average about the $1000 mark, allowing for price differences between the 256MB and 128MB versions.

Upon testing the 5900 Ultra, games such as Serious Sam 2 and Unreal Tournament 2002 improved by just a few frames per second over a 5800 Ultra-based card at 1280x1024. Only at 1600x1200 did the 5900 pull markedly ahead of the 5800.

Similarly, ATI's 9800 Pro produced about 10fps more than the 5900 at lower resolutions of UT, but it also dropped off at higher ones.

In the UT anti-aliasing test, the 5900 trailed both of its main rivals. And although the 5900 has a reworked anisotropic filtering engine, the ATI card provided superior image quality in our subjective tests. Anti-aliasing softens jagged edges on 3D images, and anisotropic filtering helps smooth scenes in which textured images, like a tiled floor, start in the foreground and extend back.

The 5900 Ultra's features are more tuned to forthcoming games. One such feature, UltraShadow, renders shadows and scenes more efficiently, making games such as the upcoming Doom III and Half-Life 2 run more quickly and smoothly, NVIDIA says.

In brief: NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 Ultra
[reference board, not rated]
Our 5900 Ultra reference board had a slim edge over the 5800 and ATI's 9800 Pro at higher resolutions, but it dropped behind ATI's 9800 Pro at standard resolutions. At higher resolutions, however, the 5900 looks set to take a turn at the front of the pack.
URL: www.nvidia.com

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Alexandra Krasne

PC World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?