Introduction to the 5950
The name 5950 gives us the impression that this system is based on the 5900 series technology. From the design of the core, it uses the existing 0.13 micron process technology to produce the die, which is unchanged from the 5900 core. The GPU is also packaged in the same ceramic package, making its physical appearance without any logos on it identical to the 5900. The main feature changes are what we have gone over before and the core memory speed. Core speeds have increased from 450MHz up to 475MHz (only a 25MHz increase). Memory speeds have been increased from 425MHz (850MHz DDR) to 475MHz (950MHz DDR). While increasing speed, it also raises the memory bandwidth up to 30GB/s using DDR2 memory modules; this is definitely the biggest gain on the nVidia front.
The GeForce FX 5950 uses the exact same proportions as the 5900. This means that not only the PCB size is the same, the height of the card remains the same. The 5950, like the 5900, has an extremely large footprint, requiring two expansion slot bays at the back - one for the I/O ports and one for the external heat vent. That's right; nVidia takes a page from ABIT this time around with its version of OTES.
The cooling system is rather large. It consists of a 70mm fan, a heatsink and a shroud. The heatsink is attached with a retention mechanism to the PCB with a clip. Similar to how a CPU heatsink is attached, once again push pins are banned. There is no fan on top of the heatsink but rather in front. This is used to pull air through a plastic shroud that sits over the top of the fan and heatsink allowing air to be pulled in the back of the card, over the heatsink and vented outside the PC. This means that the card will not vent its hot air inside the PC, and will reduce heat build up within the case. While this cooling system is somewhat more effective than the 5900 Ultra, it is still rather loud. It uses the same thermal throttling system that the 5900 Ultra used, which means when the GPU is idle, the fan speed reduces, when under stress the fan speeds up to keep the GPU as cool as possible.
Like the 5700, the 5950 also comes with ramsink plates both front at back. This is used to effectively cool the memory modules on the card.
Being top of the line, the 5950 uses 256MB of memory in a 256bit memory array for a total of 30GB/s of memory bandwidth. For the 5950, nVidia has chosen Hynix 2.2ns memory modules. This is rather surprising as we expected nVidia to use the same modules for both cards as they are running at the same speeds. It appears nVidia favors the Hynix modules for its high end cards, possibly due to their better overclocking abilities and reliability.
Due to the power requirements of the FX cards, the 5950 is equipped with an extra power connector, however, the regulators are much larger which might indicate this card requires a lot more power then the rest of the 5xxx series.
Onto the benchmarks!
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