Looking at the card we can clearly see that HIS stayed with their standard design and cooling method. The X1950 actually uses the company's IceQ3 design the same found on the X1800 GTO we reviewed a few months ago. This marks a slight upgrade from the normal IceQ design and includes large cooling hardware, a heatpipe, the use of copper sinks instead of aluminum, and a few other minor tweaks. The IceQ3 design is an effective way to keep a high demand video card quiet while responsibily controlling its heat output.
The video card uses a large cooling fan and all that copper to keep the memory and GPU cool and then to push the hot air out of the case. The heatpipe transfers heat from the GPU to the fins on the top in order to keep the chip cool and to allow for optimal heat transfer. All told, this package does a good job of cooling the video card and it is extremely quiet, much better than what we see from most other ATI partners and a large improvement over ATI's stock cooling equipment. The card does require extra power from the power supply which will be provided through the 6-pin PCI Express connector on the top end.
Asus M2N32 SLI, AMD Athlon 64 3500+, 2GB Super Talent DDR2 memory, 400GB SATA hard drive, OCZ 700W GameXstream power supply
To test the X1950 Pro, we put the card in out test system and compared its results to two other products that someone considering the X1950 Pro might be interested in purchasing, the X1800 GTO and X1650 Pro. These cards are both a step (or two) down from the X1950, but if you are not the type of gamer who wants to spend a fortune on 3D equipment, than any of these could seem like a reasonable choice. The X1950 Pro is the newest, most expensive, and has the most features of the three models.
The first set of tests were done using synthetic benchmarks. These are a good way to judge the relative performance of a card under controlled circumstances. Synthetics are not the best way to judge real-life performance, but they give us an idea of just how much improvement there is going to be when we upgrade, for example, from a X1650 Pro to a X1950 Pro. During these tests we saw a significant jump up in performance from the X1650 and a smaller, but still considerable, improvement from the aging X1800 GTO. If some more cards were thrown into the mix the X1950 would not be ATI's king-of-the-hill, but it is definitely on the higher end of the spectrum.