Creative – 3D Blaster 5 FX 5600 Ultra review

blisteringly fast 3D graphics card
Photo of Creative – 3D Blaster 5 FX 5600 Ultra
£199.99

There is no doubt that the arrival of the first Nvidia GeForce graphics card was a landmark for serious PC gamers who wanted to make the most of the lavish backgrounds in their first-person shoot-’em-ups.

Having pushed the first four generations of this brand as far as it could, Nvidia’s latest GPU – the GeForce FX range – is now wowing a new generation. It’s not surprising, therefore, that Creative has piggy-backed on this success with its version of the GeForce FX 5600.

Let’s be quite honest about this; the only reason to install this card is to be the meanest player of Unreal Tournament 2003 on the block! It features a 400MHz core, an 800MHz memory data rate, 128-bit memory bandwidth and 400MHz RAMDAC. It will process a staggering 100 million vertices per second at a fill rate of 1.6 billion texels per second and up to 16 textures per pixel.

What this all means is that however high you crank up your game settings, the Ultra will laugh in your face and give the smoothest, high-quality action you’ve ever enjoyed. Does your game need DirectX 9? No problem, there’s full support for that here, as well as for AGP 8X. You also get integrated TV-out and MPEG-2 coding.

For most gamers, it’s the quality of the special effects that determine the level of enjoyment they’ll get from a game. The 3D Blaster 5 FX 5600 Ultra comes with a copy of Mech-style shooting game Gun Metal. This shows off the stunning power of the CineFX’s advanced vertex and pixel shading, as machines explode and landscapes race past in magnificent detail. Rockets, missiles and tracer fire have never looked so realistic and when your flying machines hurtle towards the Earth, there’s no reduction in quality as you zoom from lofty clouds to ground zero.

The industry’s fastest (so Nvidia claims) anti-aliasing programme – called Intellisample – makes the mechanical monsters almost leap out of the screen as there are no visible jagged edges to any of the units. No need for lots of complex adjustments either, as the built in Digital Vibrance Control 3.0 adjusts graphical output to suit conditions.

Finally, just to remind you that the FX 5600 Ultra isn’t just designed for gamers, it also incorporates Nvidia’s nView multi-display technology, although we doubt you’ll get this card past the accounts department by claiming it’s just for presentations.

Company: Creative

Contact: 01189 344322


Verdict
You always have to think very hard before shelling out £200 but if you take your gaming seriously and want to be at the cutting edge of graphical excellence, this card is a must.