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Conclusion

Gainward's CoolFX Ultra/2600 Runs Water Cool and Performance Hot
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More power for advanced users: That's the best way to classify the Gainward PowerPack! CoolFX Ultra/2600 TV-DVI-DVI Golden Sample. If money is no object, Gainward's super GeForce 6800 Ultra is definitely worth considering, at least if you enjoy tinkering around with the water cooling system. If you judge it by the performance boost it provides over a standard GeForce 6800 Ultra, the money you have to plunk down for it is a bit much, though. At over $900 (€899), the CoolFX Ultra/2600 Kit is some 50% more expensive than Gainward's standard Ultra/2600. If you take UT2004 in 1600x1200 with 4xFSAA and 8xAF, you'll get at most 15% more performance or 10% if you keep Gainward's clock speed settings. The higher clock speed is only noticeable with an extremely fast CPU and gaming in extremely high resolutions including FSAA and AF. The card had a rough time in some benchmarks against ATI's Radeon X800 XT PE, although the more powerful texture filter optimizations in the ATI drivers shouldn't be forgotten.

However, performance is but one factor to be considered. The water-cooling system adopted from Innovatek works like a charm and is beautifully machined and assembled. If you are planning to switch your system to water-cooling anyhow, Gainward will provide you with the perfect foundation to easily expand to CPU and other components.

The contents of the Gainward package are great. From screws and cable straps through to a detailed manual - everything is included. Only the software bundle is a bit paltry.

We cannot generally recommend the Gainward PowerPack! CoolFX Ultra/260 TV-DVI-DVI Golden Sample - the additional performance it provides is simply too expensive. If performance is everything for you and the sight of the CoolFX makes your palms sweat, you should also consider the SLI factor (see NVIDIA Takes a Walk on the SLI Side with Double Graphics Processing ). How about a CoolFX SLI system? If you're not shaking your head in horror at this point, you're already infected with the performance virus and should wait for the card's PCI express version. One thing is clear - exceptional things never come cheap, and the CoolFX Ultra/2600 is nothing if not exceptional.

Positive:

  • Very good 3D performance & Shader Model 3.0;
  • Texture filter optimization can be partly deactivated;
  • 2 DVI-I outputs or 2x analog per adapter;
  • Very good cooling power;
  • Runs very quietly;
  • Complete water cooling package - all cable adapters, extensions and other accessories ship with the card;
  • Can be expanded with other water-cooling components (CPU/Northbridge) from Gainward;
  • Card and water cooler available without water-cooling kit.

Negative:

  • Steep price;
  • Complicated installation;
  • No Video-Inputs;
  • Powerful power supply required;
  • Takes up considerable space in PC case (radiator, pump);
  • Enhanced clock speeds only possible through software overclocking;
  • Long board, double height (dual slot);
  • Puny software bundle.
Layout
Form factor, length Dual-Slot, 21.5 cm (8.4 inches)
PCB-Color Red
3D Chip NVIDIA NV40, 16 Pixel Pipes
Memory 256 MB GDDR3
Memory Bus Width 256-bit
Clock rates (Core/Memory) 400 MHz / 1100 MHz (DDR) Standard
450 MHz / 1200 MHz (DDR) Enhanced
DirectX Generation 9.0c
Connectors AGP 8x, 2x DVI, 1x TV Out (Composite and S-VHS)
Test System
Intel Pentium 4 3.2 GHz
i875
1024 MB Memory (DDR400)
Windows XP SP1
Driver: NVIDIA v61.45, ATI v4.7
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