NVIDIA takes the crown! No question about it - the GeForceFX 5800 Ultra is faster than the competition from ATI's Radeon 9700 PRO in the majority of the benchmarks. However, its lead is only slight, especially compared to the distance that ATI put between its Radeon 9700 PRO and the Ti 4600. Still, when compared to its predecessor, the GeForce4 Ti, the FX represents a giant step forward.
The GeForceFX 5800 Ultra is irrefutably the fastest card in most of the tests - but at what price? The power of the FX relies on high clock speeds, which in turn require high voltages and produce an enormous amount of heat. The consequence is that extensive (and expensive) cooling is necessary. Add to that the DDR-II memory, the price of which is quite high, due to the small production numbers. Even the 12-layer board layout is complex and expensive.
It will be difficult for NVIDIA to push its GeForceFX 5800 Ultra. Radeon 9700 PRO cards are only slightly slower, and, because they've been out on the market for months now, they're much less expensive. Also, because they deliver 3D performance with much slower clock speeds, they do not require extensive cooling - and that's nice for your pocketbook as well as your ears.
Still, despite expectations to the contrary, the official price for the FX 5800 is $399 plus tax and that seems pretty aggressive and attractive. This makes it identical to the launch price of the GeForce4 Ti4600 and the ATI Radeon 9700 Pro. The "normal" version of the 5800 will be somewhat less expensive. It's surprising that the GeForceFX GPU, clocked at 500 MHz, only gains a small lead over the R300 GPU (VPU), which is modestly clocked at 325 MHz in comparison.
It remains to be seen how long NVIDIA, with its FX 5800, can maintain a lead over ATI. ATI has already started to hint at a faster-clocked R350 to come in the next weeks (according to rumor, it will have a 400-425 MHz core and 800 MHz memory).
Nevertheless, enthusiasts will, without a doubt, love the GeForceFX 5800 Ultra. It is a monster card! And it has a look that is similarly spectacular to the 3dfx Voodoo5 6000 at the time of its launch.