PowerColor X1950Pro Extreme 512MB
- Strong performance, Quiet operation, Video-in
- The cooler doesn't have a rear exhaust to let warm air escape from your PC case
This card costs a little more than cards that are based on the standard version of the Radeon X1950 Pro GPU, but it also offers a little more performance than those cards and it also has a video-in port.
Price$ 300.00 (AUD)
As the name might suggest, this card is aimed at users who want a little bit of 'wow' in their graphics hardware. This card has slightly faster than usual speeds for its ATI Radeon X1950 Pro graphics processing unit (GPU) and 512MB of DDR3 memory and its cooler is also out of the ordinary.
A typical Radeon X1950 Pro GPU has a clock speed of 580MHz and a memory speed of 1380Mhz, but PowerColor has bumped these up on its Xtreme 512MB to 594MHz and 1390MHz, respectively. This speed increase provides a slight improvement in gaming frame rates over a standard card, but nothing to get overly excited about.
When tested at a resolution of 1280 by 1024 in Quake 4, the card recorded a fast 100 frames per second (fps). When we enabled 4x anti-aliasing (AA) at the same resolution, it recorded 65fps. In FEAR, at a resolution of 1280 by 960, the card managed 44fps without AA enabled and 34fps with 4x AA enabled. These frame rates are all smooth, with the exception of the 34fps that was recorded in the second of the FEAR tests with 4x AA enabled. This rate might produce noticeable stutters during scenes when a lot of action needs to be rendered.
If you have 17in or a 19in LCD monitor with a native resolution of 1280 by 1024, then this card should provide you with a decent gaming experience at that resolution in current games. If you have a bigger monitor, say a 22in LCD that can run games in 1600 by 1200 mode, then this card may struggle in certain games.
At 1600 by 1200, Quake 4 recorded fast frame rates of 79 without AA enabled and 49 with 4x AA. These rates mean it will play this game very smoothly at this resolution. Running FEAR at 1600 by 1200 yielded slower frame rates of 31fps without AA enabled and 23fps with 4x AA which are not conducive to smooth game play.
The Xtreme 512MB is a long card that requires a supplemental power connection. It has a cooling solution that PowerColor describes as Arctic Cooling, which is a combination fan, heatsink and heat pipe cooling device. The cooler extends a good into the case and it's also quite thick, so the adjacent expansion slot in the PC will be not be usable. Unlike other cards that occupy the adjacent slot, the cooler on this card doesn't use the second slot to direct its airflow out of the rear of the case. Instead, the air is pushed down towards the motherboard. We found this cooler to be quiet, even when the card was under a full processing load.
For connectivity, the card has two DVI ports and a VIVO port, that can be used for tv-out and video-in pursuits. PowerColor ships the card with all the necessary cables you need in order to use the VIVO port, including component, S-Video and composite cables. If you want a fast card to play current games at a resolution of 1280 by 1024 and with high quality image details enabled, then this card will suffice. However, it's not a good option if you plan to run your games at a higher resolution.
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