Video Card: Gigabyte 5900XT Review :: Introduction

05-07-2004 · Category: Hardware - Video Cards

By Benjamin Sun

Gigabyte has been making computer components for several years now. Gigabyte is best known as an excellent motherboard manufacturer in Taiwan with a dedicated following in the United States. Founded in 1986 which is an extremely long time in computer terms (companies like NVIDIA weren't even a gleam in their founders eye back then and Microsoft was a small company that barely was worth $1 billion back then).

Gigabyte has also made numerous video cards based upon various chipsets from various IHVs over the last 10 years. As short as 3 years ago Gigabyte concentrated on NVIDIA video cards, but when ATI began selling chips to AIB manufacturers, Gigabyte switched to ATI cards exclusively for a year or so. Last year, however, Gigabyte started making NVIDIA cards again and now manufactures cards based on both companies' chips. With the recent introduction of MSI cards based on ATI chips, every major AIB manufacturer now employs chips from both ATI and NVIDIA.

NVIDIA first announced the NV35 AKA 5900 Ultra series cards in May of 2003 around E3. Based upon their NV3x architecture, this card brought them to nearly equal their competition (9800 Pro 256MB) in many respects. The card was quickly replaced in October 2003 by the NV38 AKA 5950 Ultra. But there was a deficiency in NVIDIA's lineup that was covered only by the 5700 Ultra. In most situations where it mattered, the 9600XT released to counter the 5700 Ultra outshined it (DX9 games).

NVIDIA has released chips with a mainstream bent that have been wildly successful in previous generations of their cards. In 2001, when they released the GEFORCE 3 Ti500 as the top card, they also released a slower clocked Ti200 which retailed for nearly of the price point of its bigger brother. Many people bought the Ti200 as it was normally overclockable to Ti500 levels. In 2002 NVIDIA released the GEFORCE 4 Ti4200, which again was a down clocked Ti4600 (which was the top dog at the time). NVIDIA decided not to fill the niche of $199 cards this time around with lower clocked GEFORCE FX 5900 Ultra till late in 2003. Enter the 5900XT.