Review: Still the best ATI AGP card
It has been half a year now since we've seen ATI's Radeon X1950PRO, the latest treat for AGP users. While in the meantime many things happened on the PCIe front, AGP still stands still. It seems it will stay that way until the first DirectX 10 AGP cards reach us sometime in the summer.
ATI finished their reference design of Radeon HD 2600XT AGP card and it should be a good successor to their X1950PRO. That in itself should restore the lost hope of AGP users. On Computex some partners, like Power Color, showcased HD 2600 cards which should be available in two versions, 256MB and 512MB running at 800MHz. The core should run at 600MHz and you can take a look at first snapshots of this new Power Color HD 2600PRO card, as well as Radeon HD2400PRO here.
Let us review the performance of this, currently fastest ATI AGP card – the Radeon X1950PRO.
We tested Power Color’s X1950PRO card, one of the first AGP X1950PRO cards to reach the market. It’s based on ATI’s 80nm RV570 core with 12 rendering pipelines, 36 pixel shaders and 8 vertex shaders. The core runs at 575MHz, with memory speeds at 1380MHz, but we actually measured a couple of MHz less, to be exact this card runs at 573/1376MHz. Power Color opted for reference speeds, although we’ve seen some companies, such as HIS, who didn’t.
The memory is 256bit and the card has total of 256 GDDR3, but if that’s not enough you can always grab yourself a 512MB one. The memory in question is Hynix’s RoHS Compliant memory, running at 1.4ns – 700Mhz. AGP version of the card is identical to the PCIe card and that made it possible for AGP users to enjoy the same performances as PCIe users.
Still, certain details, such as RIALTO chip, are exclusive to AGP version. This bridge chip is on the back of the card, and it enables the PCIe instructions transfer trough AGP bus. New DirectX 10 AGP cards will use the same bridge chip.
Power Color uses PCB identical to the ones we’ve seen in X1950PRO PCIe cards, and we can see that on the upper right side of the card where there are two uncut 12bit Crossfire connectors. These connectors are used to connect two PCIe graphics cards in Crossfire mode, which is sadly not possible in AGP systems due to only one AGP slot. Power connector on the card is 6pin, not the standard 4pin molex used for AGP cards. If you’re using a PSU with no 6pin power plugs, in the box you’ll find one 6pin power adapter.
You’ve noticed that Power Color doesn’t use ATI’s standard coolers. For their cards they chose an excellent cooler from Arctic Cooling, named Accelero x2.
The cooler is made from a mixture of copper and aluminum, with heat pipe technology that efficiently cools GPU and memory. The fan is almost soundless due to good vibration absorption. We did however mind that the air is not pushed out of the case, so you’ll need some good airflow in your machine. Core temperature is much lower compared to ATI’s standard coolers. While idle, we measured 42 °C, and while gaming maximum temperature was 58 °C.
In the box, apart from the mentioned power connector, you can find a DVI to VGA adapter, component cable to hook your card to HDTV, S-Video and composite cable. CD with the drivers and user’s manual are also included, as well as a DVD with Cyberlink software (including PowerDVD and a trial version of PowerDVD Copy)