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Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro 512Mb AGP:
Review and Testing

Paul V. Bolotoff
 
Release date: 31st of March 2007
Last modify date: 18th of May 2007

Contents:

[a Russian version of this review is available at Radeon.ru]

Foreword

Not so far ago, ATI/AMD have introduced an interesting solution on the market of AGP based video hardware — Radeon X1950 Pro. No wonder that it's aimed as a primary competitor to GeForce 7800GS by NVIDIA because the previous top-level AGP design, Radeon X1600 Pro, hasn't been tough enough to make a real challenge. Even if Radeon X1650 Pro with faster video memory was released for the AGP bus a while ago, it wouldn't make much difference. A much more powerful solution has had to be developed, so here it is.
 
Radeon X1950 Pro by Sapphire Technology for the AGP bus isn't much different from a corresponding PCI Express version except that it carries 512Mb of video memory while the latter gets used to 256Mb. Although a few months later 512Mb cards for the PCI Express bus have also appeared on the market. On the other hand, when Radeon X1950 Pro has been introduced officially in December of 2006, no other manufacturer but Sapphire has released a 512Mb AGP based version. Both bus designs are powered by the same ATI RV570 graphprocessors, and even more, they're almost identical visually. All right, the sample about to be reviewed is one of the first manufactured, so let's see how fast it runs on the aging AGP 8x bus. Can it blow a new life into such an old computer hardware or is it just a waste of money?

 
The First Impression

The video card comes in a retail box carrying the logotypes of Sapphire and ATI, also some kind of female-like mechanical creature we've seen many times before. Although the box is rather small, it contains the video card and many additional hardware: two DVI to D-Sub (VGA) adaptors, a splitted to composite video adaptor, a splitted to per channel (RGB) composite video adaptor, one cable for splitted and one for composite video signal, and a twin cable for auxiliary power supply. Of course, there is a driver CD, also a quick install guide written in 17 languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Bulgarian, Czech, Russian, Croatian, Greek, Hungarian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Turkish) and two "Fueled by Sapphire - Graphics by ATI" stickers. You may also notice a "HDCP Ready" label on the box, though the card has probably nothing to do with digital content protection because it doesn't come with a HDMI connector. What to say, another marketing trick.
 
Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro 512Mb AGP (retail box)
(click to enlarge, 108Kb)

There is no single reference design for Radeon X1950 Pro, but this one seems to be the most popular. The power supply stabiliser is located in the right part of the card close to two 4-pin "molex" style connectors. The opposite part is populated by two DVI and one TV-out connector with a Sapphire hologram on the top. There is a large radiator of some unusual shape with a semi-transparent blue cover featuring the same female-like mechanical creature.
 
Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro 512Mb AGP (front view)
(click to enlarge, 141Kb)

There is nothing special on the back side of the card. You can see a PCIe to AGP bridge (RIALTO) covered by a sticky protective rubber pad of pink colour, also a straight line of multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) and a square chip leftwards which is the primary PWM controller.
 
Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro 512Mb AGP (back view)
(click to enlarge, 156Kb)
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Copyright (c) Paul V. Bolotoff, 2006-07. All rights reserved.
A full or partial reprint without a permission received from the author is prohibited.
 
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