Leadtek Winfast PX8800 Ultra Leviathan

Just when you thought the 8800 Ultra couldn't get any more extreme, we look at an even pricier water cooled model today.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Oct 23 2007 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 85%Manufacturer: Leadtek

Introduction





The Ultra hasn't done great thus far. The high price tag, lack of availability and the high price tag meant that no one could really justify the high price tag. Oh, and did I mention it was very expensive?

With that said though, ultimately if you're feeling pretty hardcore and you've got the bucks to splash, an SLI Ultra setup in conjunction with a 680i SLI motherboard is the ultimate setup for a lot of people.

If it wasn't expensive enough already, Leadtek turn around and stick a big phat water cooling solution on it to jack the price up that bit more. Is it really worth it though? The biggest bad boy at the moment in the air cooled arena is the XFX 8800 Ultra XXX edition that packs quite a punch.

We've been impressed with the Ultra in the past but that was before the HD 2900 XT really began to shine. Can the Leviathan Ultra from Leadtek impress us or is it just a big waste of cash?

The Package




The box is big which is no real surprise since it not only holds the 8800 Ultra which on its own is big enough, but also an all-in-one water cooling solution. The front of the box carries a picture of a giant MechWarrior along with all the standard information like 768MB GDDR3, DirectX 10, Water cooling and a comparison against the standard 8800 Ultra. The top of the box carries a little handle so you can hold it in your hands and skip your merry way home.



Turning the box over we have some more information that mainly speaks of the features that the 8800 Ultra core offers. The bottom left hand corner gives us a specification table and states the clock speeds of the card and other important information. We have a quick rundown on PureVideo along with a briefing on the whole 8 series line up and where each model sits.



Diving inside the box, in the CD department we have the standard Driver CD; we also have a little bonus software pack along with the inclusion of two full version games, the first being Joint Task Force which we haven't seen before, and the second is SpellForce 2 which we have seen on a number of Palit cards in the past.



In the manual department we have a standard Quick Installation Guide along with a General Guide.



Moving onto the cables we have two Molex to PCI Express connectors, single DVI to VGA connector, Component/S-Video out connector and four screws to hold the radiator in place.



The package on a whole is pretty good and the inclusion of two games is very nice. While we don't have any connectors that you can make use of for TV-Out out of the box, I'd like to know who spends this much money just to use an S-Video cable to their TV to watch their latest TV-Shows. It comes with everything an enthusiast would want.

The Card




With the package out the way it's time to move onto the card and straight away when you look at it there isn't a whole lot to talk about thanks to the massive blue cover over the front. Apart from the cover the only thing you can notice are the two pipes coming out the top of the card.



These two pipes of course head on over to our radiator/pump where all the magic happens. With a 120mm fan and a weird L shape design it's clear that this bad boy is going to take up some serious case space and is going to make SLI a difficult task.





Moving over to the radiator we of course have the 120mm fan that helps cool the radiator and in turn cools the water to keep our 8800 Ultra nice and cool.



As far as connections go we have the standard inlet/outlet pipe as you would expect along with a molex connector that powers the pump. Coming off that is another little cable that plugs into the video card and spins the fan.



The whole setup is pretty effortless thanks to the liquid already being inside the tubes/radiator. You literally just have to bolt it in, plug some power connectors in and away you go.

With that sorted out, quickly moving back to the card it's a very standard setup. Across the top of the card we have both our SLI connectors and two 6-Pin PCI Express connectors.





I/O wise we have the standard Dual Link DVI connectors that we are used to seeing on most high-end cards along with our little TV-Out port.

As you would expect the card is going to be packing some decent clocks, so what are they? The standard 8800 Ultra comes packed with a 612MHz core and 2160MHz DDR memory clock. The Leadtek Ultra Leviathan comes in at a huge 684MHz core and 2322MHz DDR memory clock.

Test System Setup and 3DMark05


Test System Setup

Processor(s): Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3GHz (333MHz x 9)
Cooling: Corsair Nautilus500 (Supplied by Corsair) with Arctic Cooling MX-2 Thermal Compound (Supplied by Arctic Cooling)
Motherboard(s): ASUS Blitz Extreme (Supplied by ASUS)
Memory: 2 X 1GB Corsair XMS3 DDR-3 1066MHz 7-7-7-21 (Supplied by Corsair)
Hard Disk(s): Hitachi 80GB 7200RPM SATA-2
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista
Drivers: Forceware 162.18

It was only fair to compare the ultimate water cooled Ultra against the ultimate air cooled Ultra which comes in the form of the XXX Edition from XFX, this carrying a slightly lower clock speed of 675MHz Core and 2300MHz DDR Memory clock.

We have also clocked our Leadtek card down to 612MHz core and 2160MHz memory to simulate a stock 8800 Ultra. We have not included it in the sound/power/temperature tests.

We also continue to use Vista to see how we go with a bit of DX10 gaming.


3DMark05

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 130
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark05/
Buy It Here




3DMark05 is now the second latest version in the popular 3DMark "Gamers Benchmark" series. It includes a complete set of DX9 benchmarks which tests Shader Model 2.0 and above.

For more information on the 3DMark05 benchmark, we recommend you read our preview here.




The older 3DMark doesn't show us much until we crank it up in the resolution department. The XFX and Leadtek are pretty close but there is a gain from the stock clocked Ultra.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here




3DMark06 is the very latest version of the "Gamers Benchmark" from FutureMark. The newest version of 3DMark expands on the tests in 3DMark05 by adding graphical effects using Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) which will push even the best DX9 graphics cards to the extremes.

3DMark06 also focuses on not just the GPU but the CPU using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library to effectively test single and Dual Core processors.




Moving to 3DMark06 we can see that the higher clocked Leadtek just has a jump on the XXX XFX at the higher resolutions.

Benchmarks - Half Life 2 (Episode One HDR)


Half Life 2 (Episode One HDR)

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest from Steam
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.com
Buy It Here




By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism, responsiveness and new HDR technology, Half-Life 2 Episode One opens the door to a world where the player's presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors even the emotions of both friends and enemies.

We benchmark Half Life 2 Episode One with our own custom timedemos as to avoid possible driver optimizations using the "record demo_name" command and loading the timedemo with the "timedemo demo_name" command - For a full list of the commands, click here.




We again see that the gains are visible at the extremely high resolution. Below that the XFX and Leadtek sit quite close and at the lowest resolution the cards are very close as well.

Benchmarks - Prey


Prey

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: HardwareOC Custom Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.humanhead.com
Product Homepage: http://www.prey.com
Buy It Here




Prey is one of the newest games to be added to our benchmark line-up. It is based off the Doom 3 engine and offers stunning graphics passing what we've seen in Quake 4 and does put quite a lot of strain on our test systems.




The overclocked cards give a decent gain compared to the stock clocked card at the lower resolution, but that's not really important as you don't spend this much money to game at 1280 and at the higher resolution all the cards are quite close to each other.

Benchmarks - F.E.A.R.


F.E.A.R.

Version and / or Patch Used: Unpatched
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.vugames.com
Product Homepage: http://www.whatisfear.com/us/
Buy It Here




F.E.A.R. (First Encounter Assault Recon) is an intense combat experience with rich atmosphere and a deeply intense paranormal storyline presented entirely in first person. Be the hero in your own spine-tingling epic of action, tension, and terror...and discover the true meaning of F.E.A.R.





The Leadtek offering sees some nice little gains over the XFX and stock clocked offerings.

Benchmarks - Company of Heroes


Company of Heroes

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.7
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.relic.com
Product Homepage: http://www.companyofheroesgame.com
Buy It Here




Company of Heroes, or COH as we're calling it, is one of the latest World War II games to be released and also one of the newest in our lineup of benchmarks. It is a super realistic real-time strategy (RTS) with plenty of cinematic detail and great effects. Because of its detail, it will help stress out even the most impressive computer systems with the best graphics cards - especially when you turn up all the detail. We use the built-in test to measure the frame rates.






The Leadtek was the only card able to crack that magical 30FPS minimum at the highest resolution and shows gains over the other cards here.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict


World in Conflict (DX9)

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com




World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.

The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.





Again we break that 30FPS minimum with the Leadtek offering and we get gains across the board. In these ultra intensive tests we can see the minor speed increase helps.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - Vista


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here




3DMark06 is the very latest version of the "Gamers Benchmark" from FutureMark. The newest version of 3DMark expands on the tests in 3DMark05 by adding graphical effects using Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) which will push even the best DX9 graphics cards to the extremes.

3DMark06 also focuses on not just the GPU but the CPU using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library to effectively test single and Dual Core processors.




We again see in 3DMark06 the performance between the two cards are very close.

Benchmarks - Call of Juarez (DX10) - Vista


Call of Juarez (DX10)

Version and / or Patch Used: DX10 Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.techland.pl/en/
Product Homepage: http://www.coj-game.com

Buy It Here



Call of Juarez is a Western-themed FPS from Techland. The North America release was one of the first games to utilize DX10.

Call of Juarez is loosely based on a number of Western movie hits from the last four decades, particularly the Spaghetti Westerns that became popular in the sixties and early seventies. The game features two different characters: Billy "Candle", a young fugitive accused of murder and the Reverend Ray, an ex-outlaw who turned to religion, believing that God himself has chosen Ray to be the instrument of His wrath.





Call of Juarez manages to see a slight increase with the slight speed increase.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet (DX10) - Vista


Lost Planet: Extreme Condition

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com
Product Homepage: http://www.nzone.com/object/nzone_lostplanet_home.html




Driven to the brink of extinction on ice-covered wastelands, humankind fights to survive. From extreme conditions and insurgent Snow Pirates to hostile gargantuan alien Akrid, all that you can trust are your instincts.

Combining a gripping single player campaign and intense multiplayer modes with support for up to 16 players online, Lost Planet is an epic gaming masterpiece. Enormous world maps unfold as players' battle across vast snow fields and deserted cities either on foot or in armed, robotic Vital Suits.



Lost Planet doesn't really seem to benefit much from the little extra overclock on offer from the Leadtek.

Benchmarks - Company of Heroes (DX10) - Vista


Company of Heroes

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.7
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.relic.com
Product Homepage: http://www.companyofheroesgame.com
Buy It Here




Company of Heroes, or COH as we're calling it, is one of the latest World War II games to be released and also one of the newest in our lineup of benchmarks. It is a super realistic real-time strategy (RTS) with plenty of cinematic detail and great effects. Because of its detail, it will help stress out even the most impressive computer systems with the best graphics cards - especially when you turn up all the detail. We use the built-in test to measure the frame rates.




Finally we leave with COH and we can see at only the highest resolution we get a few FPS bump for the Leadtek.

High Quality AA and AF




Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.


3DMark06



As you would expect the Leadtek offering again comes out ahead and gives us about 10% over the standard clocked card.

Half Life 2 (Episode One HDR)



Again we get a decent gain over the stocked clock card but the two big overclocked offerings are neck and neck.

Prey



Big gains over the stock clocked card and the Leadtek manages to sneak ahead of the XFX by a good few frames.

Temperature and Sound Tests


Temperature Tests



With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).

There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.




It's clearly doing its job, the water setup shows temps being a massive 22c lower on the back of the card.


Sound Tests



Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).




This kind of surprised us, water cooling is generally quieter but this is actually quite loud. It's not the fan that makes the noise or the pump, it seems to be the water moving around. So while it's a bit on the loud side, it's actually somewhat calming. You know, Leadtek 8800 Ultra with calming noises of the ocean.

Power Consumption Tests






Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.




Speaking of being surprised we also expected higher power usage but its load is slightly down compared to the XFX while the idle is only slightly up.

Final Thoughts




In Australia you can actually pick up the LEVIATHAN for slightly less than the XXX XFX offering, but it's a good couple of hundred up on the stock clocked offering. Is it worth it? Well, as always it's a little bit of yes and a little bit of no. The Ultra on a whole isn't really worth it at the price it's at anyway. With that said though the Ultimate setup is going to have a pair of Ultras running in SLI so if you've got money to burn they're probably the card to have.

The water cooled offerings also do great things for our temps and in an SLI environment this would be particularly great. You shouldn't have too much trouble getting the two radiators in a good sized case with multiple 120mm fan spots. The card is fast, there's no denying that. The bundle is good, the out of the box clocks are excellent as well. Leadtek seemed to have found a spot that runs just perfect. It's not only cool but rock solid. What's clear though is it's at the edge, we also like to venture a bit into overclocking but as soon as we started moving only a few MHz up on the core memory artifacts would appear, so like the XFX it's really at its peak.

The card ticks most of the right boxes; great build quality and a great bundle with the only thing going against it being the price. Yes it's expensive but so are Ferraris.

Leadtek have done a good job with the Ultra and we look forward to seeing what they do with the next generation line up of NVIDIA cards or even the new 8800GT which is due to be released next week.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.
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