As many of you probably have noticed, we review a lot of products from Gainward here at NordicHardware. There is a perfectly good reason for this, and it is called Gainward Nordic. Gainward is one of the few hardware manufacturers with a Swedish office and that office happens to be located in Malmö, just 10 kilometres from Lund where our videocard editor (me) resides. Of all the hardware manufacturers I’ve been in contact with (and believe me, there are many) Gainwards operation is pretty unique…

As many of you
probably have noticed, we review a lot of products from Gainward here at NordicHardware.
There is a perfectly good reason for this, and it is called Gainward Nordic.
Gainward is one of the few hardware manufacturers with a Swedish office and
that office happens to be located in Malmö, just 10 kilometres from Lund
where our videocard editor (me) resides. Of all the hardware manufacturers
I’ve been in contact with (and believe me, there are many) Gainwards
operation is pretty unique.

I like the idea
of local offices and, even though it is understandable that not every manufacturer
can manage to set one up in every country, having one is a large advantage.
One of the few other companies that has a similar organisation in Sweden is
Creative. A local office has better knowledge of local issues and problems,
they speak the language, they can interact with both customers and reviewers
more easily, etc. That’s why I decided to try to give the readers a
little insight into what’s happening out there at the Malmö office.
In other words: time for a visit.

First in this
two-page article we will concentrate on the interview with Gainward Nordic:
(NH = Nordic Hardware, GN = Gainward Nordic, TJ = Torbjörn
Johansson) The interview is translated from Swedish to English.


Torbjörn Johansson

Miro Novosel

[NH] Hello Gainward Nordic. Could you please give a short
presentation of Gainward Nordic and yourselves to the readers?

[GN] Hello NordicHardware. Gainward Nordic is Gainwards service
office for the Scandinavian part of Gainwards international business, and
Iceland is also our responsibility.

At Gainward Nordic we try to use different media channels
like online hardware reviewers and computer magazines to get exposure of,
and distribute information on, Gainwards products. Our job is also to keep
in touch with Gainward distributors and partners in Scandinavia and Iceland.

On top of this we are also responsible for arranging competitions,
publications and various events where You as readers can take part in the
activities. As of now our forums are the most important part of our information

[TJ] Hi there! I have a background in several different businesses
where I’ve worked in the following areas: Networking, Server technologies,
Support & Service, PR & Design, Webdesign, Copywriter, Photographer,
and several others. Among other things here at Gainward Nordic I work as Technical
Sales Manager, a flexible position with lots of opportunity for personal development.
I’m very happy with my work.

[MN] Hi, my background is mostly in selling various products,
the last years primarily hardware. Some of my latest positions have been Purchasing
Manager, CEO and Sales Manager, but I have to say that the position as manager
of Gainwards nordic branch has been one of the most demanding and also one
of the most rewarding for me.

[NH] Many people are interested in the water-cooling solution
you are about to start selling, and we have a lot of questions in store. I’m
splitting this question into parts to make it easier:
1. Why did you choose aluminium for your waterblock instead of e.g. copper?
2. Will we see more of your videocards with watercooling?
3. Will it be possible to buy only the actual coolingblock?
4. If there is a leak in the system, what’s your warranty policy?

[GN] 1. The engineers at Innovatek choose aluminium for the
waterblock, and we trust their judgement. There is always the possibility
of a revised future version using copper.
2. Certainly, we have plans to enhance and develop our cooling solutions in
the future in order to offer even more overclocking potential in our products.
3. We plan to offer the block separately, but at the moment we can’t
specify a date when it will be available.
4. If a fault is due to construction error and not user error, we will certainly
provide full warranty.

[NH] What do you think of nVidia increasing the pace? The
step from NV30 to NV35 was quick, and now it seems they are about to release
a bunch of new cards (NV37 and NV40 and also new SE-versions of current cards).

[GN] We think it’s a positive evolution for all parties.
Games and 3d-apps today are becoming more and more demanding, providing both
better image quality as well as gaming experience, moving towards a future
where we can’t tell the difference between computer generated reality
and “everyday reality”. Although the immediate consequences of
this today is a more dynamic market and an enormous shortening of a products
lifecycle, compared to just a few years ago.

[NH] Right now we’re seeing a focus on the high end
by Gainward with cards priced a bit above “standard prices”. Do
you have any intentions of offering more products to those with smaller wallets?

[TJ] Gainwards concept is to offer a product which focuses
on things like performance, quality and reliability. To be able to do this,
much research and development is needed for our products. Of course we cover
most of nVidias components with our line-up and thus we have offerings at
all price levels.

[NH] Has the squabble over nVidias driver optimisations affected
you in any way? (Related support questions, angry customers etc.) Part two:
Is there a point where you at Gainward would say the line has been crossed
(the line for reasonable optimisation) and how would you in that case react
to nVidia and your customers? (This being something you might not be control
of, but which nevertheless affects you)

[TJ] a) We are aware of the issue but have not seen much effect
on our support. Things have been pretty normal.
b) Optimisations, revisions and tweaks has always been part of the market,
whether you are aware of it or not they are used by all parties. We definitely
do not see anything bad with the idea of using software and drivers to optimise
performance for various applications. However, there are exceptions, if e.g.
the application is used for pure performance measuring, where we’d like
to see similar optimisations by all parties in order to show the full potential
of the product.

[NH] How has Gainward Nordic developed since you started?
Have you been able to see any clear differences in sales since you started
your Swedish office?

[TJ] The start as well as the continuing development has been
very positive for us. The Scandinavian market is more aware of Gainward products
and we are seeing an increasing interest from the rest of Europe as well.
One of Gainwards basic principles is to be very active towards the hardware-reviewers,
and this is continuously increasing the market share for our high-performing

[MN] Like Torbjörn says it’s an on-going process. Unfortunately we must
admit that when we started this office nVidias products where not regarded
as highly by the users as they’d been previously, and ATI was gaining
more and more market share. This made us have to work very hard and often
unconventionally to increase the markets awareness of Gainward products. We
will continue to work in the same way and try to come up with unconventional
things. As an example we’ll soon introduce Club Gainward*, a surprise
that many of you will appreciate. Unfortunately that’s all I can say
at the moment.
*Club Gainward
is a Swedish phenomenon as far as I know, ed..

[NH] If you were to choose one of your videocards that more
than any other represents the Gainward spirit, which would it be? (I don’t
just mean your most powerful card, so don’t feel you have to pick something
from your current line-up)

[TJ] Personally I’d pick our Ultra/1300 card which is
based on nVidias 5900 chip. This card combines an incredibly attractive design
and unmatched performance as well as overclocking potential. Everything Gainward
stands for

[MN] I have to say that the latest Ultra/1300 card shows that
Gainward, early in the product cycle, dares to develop and introduce a product
that meets the demands of the market.

[NH] Which two of your cards has sold best and worst, respectively?

[GN] Our best seller ever is to our knowledge the GF4 PP! Pro/600 TV*, we found
no information on the worst seller.
* GeForce
MX440, ed.

[NH] What’s your position on alternatives to nVidia?
You apparently aren’t completely negative to this since you have sold
(are still selling?) cards based on SiS-chips. If nVidia where to make a chip
that didn’t meet any of the markets expectations at all, would you then
just ride it out until the next chip, or would you switch to someone else’s
chip? Also: have you’ve been looking into the upcoming S3/VIA DeltaChrome,
SiS Xabre II or any other cards?

[TJ] Since Gainward stands with nVidia come good or bad, we
have no current plans to work with other manufacturers.

[MN] Since we are an official nVidia partner and work with
nVidia on several levels, there are as far as I know no plans to bring in
other parties. The two main actors on the market today are nVidia and ATI.
We have in the past offered cards based on the SiS Xabre chip, but the market
was not ready for that type of product at the time.

[NH] At CeBit you showed some good stuff to our reporter Christopher
Zell, among other things a digital TV-tuner and a solution for add-on cards
to your current videocards (some type of “multimedia add-on”).
Should we expect a follow-up on those or was it just experiments?

[GN] We have many new products coming up and our R&D department
never stops trying new concepts and products. In the future we’ll follow
up on previous experiments and offer products beyond our current line-up.

[NH] When will we have a Gainward nForce 3 in our AMD-64 based
computer? 😉 Have you considered this?

[TJ] Since we were previously active in the motherboard business,
this is certainly not impossible. Component-integration with the Gainward-touch
is very dear to us. We’ll have to see what the future holds regarding
our product line. Personally I have great expectations.

[MN] Nothing is impossible. The integration-market is growing
and we’re very positive to the idea. It’s possible we might offer
more than that in the future.

[NH] Personal Cinema 2 looks interesting. Will Gainward support
this? (Have you offered a card with Personal Cinema previously?)

[TJ] Features like Time-Lapse and real-time compression of
videostreams is definitely the way of the future, and we are well aware of
the growing interest. We certainly listen to the views and wishes of the consumers
in order to enhance our product line as much as possible. (To my knowledge
we’ve not offered Personal Cinema previously)

[NH] Do you have anything you feel you want to inform our
readers of?

[GN] Right now we would like to take the opportunity to inform
you of our performance tests, that will be published shortly. Of course all
testing is done based on our ongoing dialog with NordicHardware. We hope to
be able to start up our Prometias and show the enormous potential of our videocards.
Keep you eyesr on our forum at for pictures,
results and various articles and future competitions.


(PS. New competition coming up shortly)

[NH] Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.

[GN] Thank you! It’s always a pleasure to work with
you and we’re looking forward to future co-operation with you on events
and articles!

The main reason
for my visit in Malmö was to get a preview on the Gainward CoolFX-cooling.
In the testlab (or Torbjörn’s playground if you prefer), we found a stylish
Lian Li case with a blue shine. Inside the case, there is a Gainward Ultra/1600
XP (FX 5900 Ultra) with CoolFX (water cooling).

As some of you
might know, Gainward’s water cooling project started with Bit-Tech, but during
the process of developing it they realized that the design, despite its beauty,
wouldn’t be suitable for mass production. Instead, they choose to co-operate
with Innovatek.

Closed case


During a reboot,
we could see on the boot screen what it all was about. Torbjörn had
also played with a BIOS editor to add "Gainward Nordic" to the
startup (don’t try this at home, kids).


Open case

Only 1 slot

If we have a
look at the pictures above, we can see that the cooling accordingly fits
a case, provided that no PCI slots are occupied. For those of you eager to
place pump and radiator outside the case, it is a good thing that the
regardless of its extreme cooling solution, only covers one AGP slot (in
contrast to other solutions that also covers an additional PCI slot).
The tubing is
fairly soft and pliant; something that you might think of as both positive
and negative. Positive since it’s easy to handle (unlike the tubing that’s

bundled with Corsair’s Hydrocool 200 for an example), and negative because
it has a tendency to bend too hard. However, the pump was powerful enough
to continue

at full throttle, despite one of the tubes being totally cranked, so there’s
no major danger with this type of easily bent tubing.



Let’s have a
look at the components outside. The pump is from Eheim, a company that’s well-known
in connection with water-cooling. As a supporter of water flow for a graphics
card cooling, it is more than adequate. Its small size and low noise-level
is also highly positive. The water reservoir is hardly large, but as long
as we’re only cooling a GPU, it ought to be more than enough.


If we continue with the radiator, we can se that it’s equipped
with a 120 mm fan. Fortunately, this construction is also quite. What could
become a problem is the relatively large size if one should want to install
all the components inside a case. However, this wasn’t a problem with the
medium-sized Lian Li case we tried. The radiator is, just as the waterblock,
developed by Innovatek itself.

Clock more

So, how well
does it clock? The default frequencies for a 5900 Ultra are 450/850 MHz,
we painlessly managed to clock Gainward’s card to 510/1010 MHz. The final
goal is to ship the card at 550/1000, but the latest BIOS that supposedly

would increase its overclocking potential, is still terribly unstable. The
most of the 5900 Ultra cards are sniffing on frequencies of approximately

500/950, hence we require slightly more power to get really impressed. Let’s
hope for the new BIOS version.

Block and card

Cooling is something
this solution does well. My 5900 Ultra, running at 475/950 MHz, is roughly

60 degrees celsius, whereas Gainward’s card, which is running at 510/1010
MHz, is in the neighborhood
of a mere 30 degrees. Indubitably an impressive difference.


Package and bundle

3x DVI

There’s a lot
of accessories included in Gainward’s 1600 XP package. A 5.1 channel soundcard
from C-Media, a firewire card from VIA, headphones,
cables and adaptors. Beyond that, the card sports Video In and for this,
Gainward uses its faithful WinCinema. The package is by all means expensive;
you will
have to cough up about €800, which is what a mid-range computer would
cost. But of course, you get a lot too. Personally, I would rather see a
package without the soundcard and firewire card. For people that already
have these features, it seems pointless to waste money on such gadgets.

Lastly, we had a look at a solution for up to three DVI monitors.
With Gainward’s PCI based FX 5200 and a Gainward 5600 Professional, it is
possible to connect three TFT screens via the DVI interface to one single
computer. On the image above, three 17" Samsung screens are connected
and it worked very well. Our only problem was that nVidia’s nView stopped
co-operating when the third screen came into the picture.


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