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Power Color Radeon X1950 XT Review

Date: 2006-11-24

   IntroductionIn case you have not noticed, ATI's website has undergone some superficial changes in appearance to match its new owners - AMD. The red team has gone green, though its logos and bra...

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In case you have not noticed, ATI's website has undergone some superficial changes in appearance to match its new owners - AMD. The red team has gone green, though its logos and brands seem to have remained the same. Its website URL has been changed to reflect the new order at the graphics chipmaker. For AMD, it's a rather familiar story as it takes over a graphics business facing stiff competition in the market from NVIDIA, analogous to what it encounters now with Intel in the CPU arena. Going by the numbers, the new combined entity is currently at a performance disadvantage for both processors and graphics, but the synergy potential was highlighted recently with AMD's launch of a dedicated stream processor for high performance computing.

Meanwhile, the latest in ATI's recent rehashes of its graphics lineup has slipped quietly into retail channels with hardly any fuss. The Radeon X1950 XT looks to be the final update for the retiring Radeon X1900 XT though it has more in common with the older chip than other existing members in the Radeon X1950 series. For one, the R580 core is carried over from the Radeon X1900 XT, unlike the modified R580+ in the Radeon X1950 XTX or the 80nm RV570 in the Radeon X1950 PRO.

What ATI did essentially was to slap on faster memory chips on the older Radeon X1900 XT and up its clock from 1450MHz DDR to 1800MHz DDR. Therefore, the 'new' Radeon X1950 XT has a core and memory clock of 625MHz and 1800MHz DDR, along with 256MB of DDR3 memory. No doubt, we may find custom 512MB versions from vendors but 256MB seems like the more cost efficient and common variant.

So is the Radeon X1950 XT 256MB worth your time? We recently got one from PowerColor and put it through our usual tests. Before revealing the details, here's a glance of the PowerColor retail package and the technical specifications:

Power Color Radeon X1950 XT Review
The PowerColor Radeon X1950 XT 256MB.

PowerColor Radeon X1950 XT 256MB Technical Specifications
  • ATI Radeon X1950 GPU(R580)
  • 384 milliontransistors on 90nm fabrication process
  • Core Clock: 625MHz
  • 48 pixel shaderprocessors
  • 16 pixel pipelines
  • 8 vertex shaderprocessors
  • Ring Bus MemoryController
    • 512-bit internalring bus for memory reads
    • Programmableintelligent arbitration logic
    • Fully associativetexture, color, and Z/stencil cachedesigns
    • HierarchicalZ-buffer with Early Z test
    • Lossless ZCompression (up to 48:1)
    • Fast Z-Buffer Clear
    • Z/stencil cacheoptimized for real-time shadow rendering
    • Optimized forperformance at high display resolutions,including widescreen HDTV resolutions
  • Ultra-Threaded ShaderEngine
    • Support forMicrosoft® DirectX® 9.0 Shader Model3.0 programmable vertex and pixel shaders in hardware
    • Full speed 128-bitfloating point processing for allshader operations
    • Up to 512simultaneous pixel threads
    • Dedicated branchexecution units for high performancedynamic branching and flow control
    • Dedicated textureaddress units for improved efficiency
    • 3Dc+ texturecompression
      • Highquality 4:1 compression for normalmaps and two-channel data formats
      • Highquality 2:1 compression for luminancemaps and single-channel data formats
    • Multiple RenderTarget (MRT) support
    • Render to vertexbuffer support
    • Complete featureset also supported in OpenGL® 2.0
  • Advanced Image QualityFeatures
    • 64-bit floatingpoint HDR rendering supported throughoutthe pipeline
      • Includessupport for blending andmulti-sample anti-aliasing
    • 32-bit integer HDR(10:10:10:2) format supportedthroughout the pipeline
      • Includessupport for blending andmulti-sample anti-aliasing
    • 2x/4x/6xAnti-Aliasing modes
      • Multi-samplealgorithm with gammacorrection, programmable sparse sample patterns, and centroid sampling
      • NewAdaptive Anti-Aliasing feature withPerformance and Quality modes
      • TemporalAnti-Aliasing mode
      • LosslessColor Compression (up to 6:1) atall resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions
    • 2x/4x/8x/16xAnisotropic Filtering modes
      • Upto 128-tap texture filtering
      • Adaptivealgorithm with Performance andQuality options
    • High resolutiontexture support (up to 4k x 4k)
  • Flexibledisplay support
    • Programmablepiecewise linear gamma correction, colorcorrection, and color space conversion (10 bits per color)
    • Complete,independent color controls and video overlaysfor each display
    • High quality pre-and post-scaling engines, withunderscan support for all outputs
    • Content-adaptivede-flicker filtering for interlaceddisplays
    • Xilleon?TV encoder for high quality analog output
    • YPrPb componentoutput for direct drive of HDTV displays
    • Spatial/temporaldithering enables 10-bit color qualityon 8-bit and 6-bit displays
    • Fast, glitch-freemode switching
    • VGA mode support onall outputs
    • Drive two displayssimultaneously with independentresolutions and refresh rates
  • 256-bit 8-channelGDDR3 memory interface
  • 256MB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Memory Clock = 1800MHzDDR
  • Dualintegrated dual-link DVI transmitters
    • DVI 1.0 compliant /HDMI interoperable and HDCP ready
  • Dualintegrated 10 bit per channel 400 MHz DACs
I/O FaceplateConnectors
  • 2 x DVI-I connectors
  • 1 x mini-DIN connector
Drivers &Software
  • Driver support forWindows  98 / Me / 2000 / XP
  • CyberLink DVD Solution
Other Information
  • DynamicVoltage Control
  • Atleast 450W PSU recommended
  • NativePCI Express x16 bus interface

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