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Sapphire RADEON X1300 XT Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E
Sapphire RADEON X1650 PRO 256MB PCI-E
Sapphire RADEON X1950 XTX 512MB PCI-E

December 8, 2006








TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Introduction
  2. Video cards' features
  3. Testbed configurations, benchmarks
  4. Test results
  5. Conclusions



Nights are getting colder. There will be soon a paradise for overclockers. They will be able to keep their system units on balconies and enjoy super performance gains, having overclocked all components to cherished heights. On the whole, coolers will become less noisy. Video cards will become less hot, coolers will decrease their rotational speed.

But all people dream of a day, when all top accelerators will have fanless cooling systems. When you won't have to think how to replace your howling turbine. In my opinion, these are castles in the air. Despite the constantly decreasing process technology, each chip maker sets new dice to higher frequencies, having packed half a billion transistors inside. So plain heatsinks are out of the question - even if the dice were manufactured by the 0.01 nm process technology, the chips would still require thorough cooling.

So we can only seek more efficient and quiet cooling systems. One of the products under review has got such a cooler. Details will follow, as always.

What concerns the other two cards, the situation is tragic and comic at the same time. Perhaps, it's really reasonable. It all depends on an angle of view.

We all know that there are two RV530-based video cards on the market - RADEON X1600 PRO and X1600 XT. They differ only in frequencies: the former operates at 500/800 MHz, the latter - at 590/1380 MHz. Their cores have 12 pixel shader units, 4 texture units, 4 ROPs, and 5 vertex pipelines. 128 bit memory bus.

They are middle-end cards. The budget sector is inhabited by X1300-series cards. The core is already equipped with 4 pixel shader units, 4 texture units, 4 ROPs, and 3 vertex pipelines. X1300 works at 450/550 MHz, X1300 PRO - 600/800 MHz.

The new products are round the corner - RV560 and RV570. The first product is for the $149-$179 segment, it's now occupied by the X1600 XT. The second is for the $199-$249 segment. ATI hasn't covered this segment yet, because the X1800GTO is leaving the market (R520 is running out of stock, and this core is discontinued), the X1900GT won't survive long either. Besides, NVIDIA has already launched GeForce 7900GS that outperforms the X1800GTO. So the company needs a new product there.

So where should the old X1600 XT go? We know that it's very dangerous to change prices abruptly from the market point of view, because market is a long chain from a manufacturer to a consumer. Any jerks in the chain may result in losses. We do not mean consumers, of course. We speak about vendors or manufacturers of end video cards. On one hand, consumers will benefit from dropped prices. On the other hand, there will be a jumble of titles and disappointed users, who bought cards at a higher price. But consumers are always thought not to know the situation on the market before announcements of new products. So the Canadian company came to a questionable decision. To rename the X1600 PRO into the X1300 XT, the X1600 XT into the X1650 PRO, justifying it by the X1650 XT (RV560).

So the X1300 and X1650 series have cards with DIFFERENT CORES and DIFFERENT ARCHITECTURES. The X1300 series used to have similar products that differed only in frequencies, but this is not the case now. So please remember that RADEON X1300 XT is the former X1600 PRO, and the X1650 PRO is the former X1600 XT with the same characteristics!

But the X1300 XT from Sapphire, that we've got in our testlab, operates at higher frequencies, getting close to the X1650 PRO (ex-X1600XT). We have already come across X1600 PRO cards operating at x1600 XT frequencies.

Video Cards



Sapphire RADEON X1300 XT Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1300 XT (RV530)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 575 MHz (nominal - 500 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical/effective): 690 (1380) MHz (nominal - 400 (800) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Vertex pipelines: 5

Pixel pipelines: 12

Texture Processors: 4

ROPs: 4

Dimensions: 170x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: blue.

Output connectors: VGA (d-Sub), DVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




Sapphire RADEON X1650 PRO 256MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1650 PRO (RV530)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 594 MHz (nominal - 590 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical/effective): 690 (1380) MHz (nominal - 690 (1380) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Vertex pipelines: 5

Pixel pipelines: 12

Texture Processors: 4

ROPs: 4

Dimensions: 170x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: blue.

Output connectors: 2 x DVI (2 x Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




Sapphire RADEON X1950 XTX 512MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1950 (R580+)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 650 MHz (nominal - 650 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical/effective): 1000 (2000) MHz (nominal - 1000 (2000) MHz)

Memory bus width: 256bit

Vertex pipelines: 8

Pixel pipelines: 48

Texture Processors: 16

ROPs: 16

Dimensions: 220x100x31mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

Output connectors: 2 x DVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: available (RAGE Theater)

TV-out: integrated into GPU.






Sapphire RADEON X1300 XT Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E; Sapphire RADEON X1650 PRO 256MB PCI-E
The video card has 256 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in four chips on the front side of the PCB.

Infineon memory chips (GDDR3). 1.3ns memory access time, which corresponds to 750 (1500) MHz.




Sapphire RADEON X1950 XTX 512MB PCI-E
The video card has 512 MB of GDDR4 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR4). 0.9ns memory access time, which corresponds to 1100 (2200) MHz. Unfortunately, the designation is not very clear, so I'll publish it here: K4U52324QE-BC09






Comparison with Sapphire RADEON X1600 XT, front view
Sapphire RADEON X1300 XT Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E
Sapphire RADEON X1600 XT
Sapphire RADEON X1650 PRO 256MB PCI-E
Sapphire RADEON X1300 XT Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E; Sapphire RADEON X1650 PRO 256MB PCI-E
Sapphire RADEON X1600 XT
Sapphire RADEON X1950 XTX 512MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1950 XTX 512MB PCI-E


Comparison with the reference design, back view
Sapphire RADEON X1300 XT Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E
Sapphire RADEON X1600 XT
Sapphire RADEON X1650 PRO 256MB PCI-E
Sapphire RADEON X1950 XTX 512MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1950 XTX 512MB PCI-E


I have deliberately compared RV530-based video cards with the previously reviewed RADEON X1600 XT. It has been done to prove that we have a simple renaming here. Nothing more. We can see that the X1300 XT and the X1650 PRO are based on the same PCB. Moreover, they are identical cards. As you can see in the specifications, there is only a small difference in core frequency. So we can also expect similar performance. I just don't understand why the cards have different titles and prices.

What concerns the X1950 XTX, it's a copy of the reference design. I repeat that all Hi-End products are not manufactured by ATI partners on their own. They buy ready cards from ATI, manufactured on third-party plants. So all X1900-1950 cards are IDENTICAL (I mean inside each type, that is the X1950 XTX from ASUS will be a copy of the card from MSI or Gigabyte or Sapphire). The same applies to the X1900XT, X1900XTX. The X1900GT is not manufactured by the partners either, because it's based on the same PCB.

The cards have TV-Out with a unique jack. You will need a special bundled adapter to output video to a TV-set via S-Video or RCA. You can read about the TV-Out in more detail here. The X1950 XTX is also equipped with TV-in to be used with a special adapter as well.

Analog monitors with d-Sub (VGA) interface are connected with special DVI-to-d-Sub adapters. Maximum resolutions and frequencies:

  • 240 Hz Max Refresh Rate
  • 2048 x 1536 x 32bit x85Hz Max - analog interface
  • 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz Max - digital interface

What concerns MPEG2 playback features (DVD-Video), we analyzed this issue in 2002. Little has changed since that time. CPU load during video playback on all modern video cards does not exceed 25%.

Now about the cooling systems. We have already reviewed the X1950 XTX cooler before, so we shall not dwell on it. Sapphire brought nothing new into the design, so there is nothing to examine here. I repeat that the device is much more efficient and quieter than the previous modification installed on the X1900 cards.



Sapphire RADEON X1300 XT Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E

The devices work in the same way.

Mode of operation is simple: since GeForce4 Ti times, it's a closed flat heatsink with an off-center fan that sucks the air inside and drives it along the core heatsink.

The cooling method is more efficient than in traditional coolers with a central heatsink. Its noise is insignificant. Besides, you can use RivaTuner to set the rotational speed to minimum.







Sapphire RADEON X1650 PRO 256MB PCI-E

It's a similar device. It's just reinforced with a larger heatsink, the cooler has another outlet - it expands in the upper part.

The noise is also insignificant, it also allows to control rotational speed of the fan.

The heatsink has a copper base.







Bundle

Sapphire RADEON X1300 XT Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E; Sapphire RADEON X1650 PRO 256MB PCI-E
User's Manual, CD with drivers and utilities, other software, DaVinci Code, DVI-to-d-Sub and S-Video-to-RCA adapters. As well as a composite output adapter.


Sapphire RADEON X1950 XTX 512MB PCI-E
The bundle also includes a VIVO splitter cable, the second DVI-to-d-Sub adapter, TV cords, and an external power adapter.




Packages.

Sapphire RADEON X1300 XT Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E

The company again changed its package design some time ago. The boxes now look better, there even appeared optimistic nice-looking characters. But the interior got worse.










Sapphire RADEON X1650 PRO 256MB PCI-E

Plastic sections and windows in the box disappeared. They are replaced by cardboard, which is crumpled easily. If a card is small, it dangles inside.







Sapphire RADEON X1950 XTX 512MB PCI-E

Packages got worse. The X1950XTX hardly fits inside. :(









Installation and Drivers

Testbed configuration:

  • Athlon 64 (939Socket) based computer
    • CPU: AMD Athlon 4000+ (2400MHz) (L2=1024K)
    • Motherboard: MSI K8N Diamond Plus based on the NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16 chipset
    • RAM: 2 GB DDR SDRAM 400MHz (CAS (tCL)=2.5; RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)=3; Row Precharge (tRP)=3; tRAS=6)
    • HDD: WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA

  • Operating system: Windows XP SP2 DirectX 9.0c
  • Monitors: ViewSonic P810 (21") and Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070sb (21").
  • ATI Drivers (PCI-E video cards) CATALYST 6.8; NVIDIA Drivers 91.33.

VSync is disabled.

Test results: performance comparison

We used the following test applications:

  • Splinter Cell Chaos of Theory v.1.04 (Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, maximum test settings, shaders 3.0 (for NVIDIA cards)/shaders 2.0 (for ATI cards); HDR OFF!

  • Half-Life2 (Valve/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, demo (ixbt01. The tests were carried out with maximum quality, option -dxlevel 90, presets for video card types are removed from dxsupport.cfg.

  • FarCry 1.33 (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, demo from the Research level (-DEVMODE startup option), Very High test settings.

  • DOOM III (id Software/Activision) — OpenGL, multitexturing, test settings — High Quality (ANIS8x), demo ixbt1 (33MB!). We have a sample batch file to start the game automatically with increased speed and reduced jerking (precaching) d3auto.rar. (DON'T panic when the screen goes black for 5-10 seconds after the first menu. The demo will follow.)

  • 3DMark05 1.20 (FutureMark) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, trilinear filtering.

  • The Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay 1.10 (Starbreeze/Vivendi) — OpenGL, multitexturing, maximum texture quality, Shader 2.0, demo 44.

    I wish to thank Rinat Dosayev (AKA 4uckall) and Alexei Ostrovski (AKA Ducche), who have created a demo for this game. I also want to thank Alexei Berillo AKA Somebody Else for his help.

  • F.E.A.R. v.1.02 (Multiplayer) (Monolith/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, maximum test settings, Soft shadows disabled.

  • Call Of Duty 2 DEMO (Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, test settings — maximum, shaders 2.0, tested in Benchemall, demo and a startup script, readme contains necessary instructions



Summary performance diagrams

Attention! 1. As X1650 PRO = X1600 XT, see the results of this card in the corresponding column of the diagrams.

2. As results demonstrated by this modification of the X1300 XT differ from X1650 PRO results by just 3-4%, there is no point in publishing its graphs or diagrams. You can get its results by reducing the X1600 XT results by 3%. On the whole, these results are identical.

You may download the results in Excel format (Office 2003) archived in RAR 3.0 or ZIP.






Conclusions

  1. Sapphire RADEON X1300 XT Overclocked Edition 256MB PCI-E is a product for the price segment below $80. And this card fares very well here. It's very good for this price. But we should take into account that it's an overclocked product. The product offers very high quality. The 2D quality was perfect even in 1600x1200@85Hz (I repeat, we speak of the analog output of our sample and monitor).

  2. Sapphire RADEON X1650 PRO 256MB PCI-E is a very good choice, if you want an accelerator for about $100. It fact, it's the X1600 XT for this price. Our sample worked great, no gripes, 2D quality in 1600x1200 was remarkable. But we have a question. If the previous card demonstrates similar results, why pay extra money for this one? I don't understand Sapphire's reasons for launching actually the same accelerator with a different title and price. Perhaps, the X1300 XT OE will be launched in a limited edition. Otherwise, all consumers will buy this card instead of the X1650 PRO. But the manufacturer will most likely sell these two cards at the same price.

  3. Sapphire RADEON X1950 XTX 512MB PCI-E is a copy of the reference card. We've already made our conclusions in the baseline article, we have nothing to add. If the price is adequate and does not exceed the promised $440, it will be an excellent choice. This series of accelerators support high-quality anisotropy and HDR+AA, which is not available in competing cards. The new cooling system performs very well.



    And now the sad thing. I repeat that RADEON X1300 XT is the former X1600 PRO. And the X1650 PRO is the former X1600 XT with absolutely the same characteristics! But in this case the X1300 XT has increased frequencies, so it is actually equal to the X1650 PRO. So, what do we see here? Consumers are cheated again. There SHALL BE a situation when the X1300 XT is sold at the same time with the X1600 PRO (which is actually the same thing), at a lower price at that. Inexperienced users will have a look at the index and decide that the X1600 PRO is more powerful, because it's more expensive and has a higher index. So they might overpay for the same product. There may be a different situation - a user, who has just bought the X1600 XT for $160, will be disappointed after reading this article, because he/she might have bought the same card for $100 in a month.

    Renaming products is bad in itself. Yes, there are some reasons. I've already mentioned them. But they are all for vendors. Users are cheated, as always. Except for the future consumers, who will buy the X1600 XT for $100 in the form of the X1650 PRO.

You can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards in our 3Digest.












ATI RADEON X1300-1600-1800-1900 Reference

NVIDIA GeForce 7300-7600-7800-7900 Reference



We express our thanks to
Sapphire Russia
for the provided video cards.



PSU for the testbed was kindly provided by HIPER




                               Motherboard for the testbed was kindly provided by the company










Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

December 8, 2006


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