There are a variety of ATI graphics cards, ranging from the very high end x1950XTXs to the more budget range x1600s. However, it is often hard to find a middle ground with such hardware. Usually the cards are too expensive or underpowered; but this is where Connect3D come in. Their x1950 Pro card promises top notch performance with a mid range price tag, can it pull it off? Lets see.
- 384 million transistors on 90nm fabrication process
- Up to 48 pixel shader processors
- Up to 8 vertex shader processors
- 256-bit 8-channel GDDR3/GDDR4 memory interface
- Native PCI Express® x16 bus interface
Connect3D’s Take on the x1950 Pro
Bits and Box
The x1950 Pro comes in the standard Con3D box with the odd looking Cyborg-ish woman on the front behind which is a very grungey explosion of red and white colour. Around the edges are some basic specifications of the card and a little blurb about the included video editing software.
The back of the box has the usual multilingual specifications and features:
Inside the box you get a whole wealth of bits and bobs to play with. Along with the card itself you also receive:
- Driver CDs
- 2 x DVI to VGA converters
- An assortment of fun little cables
- A crossfire bridge/connector
The x1950 Pro Up Close
The x1950 Pro from Con3D looks very similar to the x1950XTX card in its aesthetics and cooler design. However, there is one difference that make this card just that little bit “cooler”.
Its size. Granted this card is no shorter, but it is a lot skinnier, taking up just the one slot on your motherboard. This is down to the cooler which has hit its size zero target and counter to the starving – begging for a cake – models of the same size, this actually looks quite good. It makes the cooler look a lot more streamlined and more cleverly designed than the one on its hulkier brother, the XTX. It will be interesting to see if the cooler is less effective for the reduction in size.
The cooler is built in the typical manner of exhaust coolers, with a fan at the front that sucks air from inside the case and sends it flying through, over a heatsink and out of the rear of the case.
No heatpipes on this one, probably one of the reasons that the size reduction was possible, but there is a large heatsink that covers the majority of the card. This “sink” is ridged along it to increase surface area and reminds me of the wings of a bird, with each layer of the heatsink overlapping the one before it.
At the rear of the card where the air is eventually exhausted we have the typical twin DVI ports and a grilled exhaust slot to stop anyone getting their fingers caught in there.
Looking at the “Top” of the card there is a twin Crossfire connector. This is obviously for those that want to crossfire cards of this type together, but what of the second slot? This one is for a little future proofing on Con3Ds part to allow for the Tri-Crossfire setup that will eventually become the norm in extreme enthusiast PCs.
The x1950 Pro features a 6 pin power connector. This will be one of the last cards ATI makes with the 6 pin as their newer generation of cards should be moving to the new 8 pin PCIE connector standard.
The back of the card looks very busy indeed, and features a backing plate for the cooler that is held on squarley by 4 screws.
Installing this card was a doddle. It didn’t overlap the motherboard like the extravagant 8800 range and wouldn’t have caused any problems with any PCI cards I had due to its thin waistline.
It even looks quite cool once installed, the red and bronze colour of the cooler really offsetting the jet black Asus motherboard it sits in.
To test GPUs XSR has a battery of synthetic and real world benchmarks that we put the cards through. Those tests are as follows:
3Dmark01, 3Dmark03, 3Dmark05, 3Dmark6, FEAR pre-set benchmark, X3 Reunion pre-set benchmark, HL2: Lost Coast built in benchmark and our very own Battlefield 2142 recorded demo sequence.
All 3Dmark tests are run using default settings and all gaming benchmarks are set as maximum detail (HL2:Lost Coast and BF2142 have 4x anti-aliasing). All tests were run 3 times and the average of the results taken to ensure that the scores were accurate. If there was a large anomally in the testing we repeated the 3 tests again.
The rig that this GPU was tested in is as follows:
Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2.7ghz
Asus P5W DH Deluxe
Silverstone Olypia 650w
OCZ 2gb Special Ops PC6400 @ 900mhz
Spire Blackfin case with Noiseblocker 120mm’s fitted in the front and rear; side panel 120mm fan disabled.
The results for this card were also compared to a Gainward 8800GTX, a x1900XT and a x1950XTX.
Before giving the results, I would like to just make a small note about overclocking this card. Although I did squeeze a few extra megahertz out of the core and memory, the overclocking tools available at the moment simply arn’t very stable in their support for the x1950 PRO. I tried ATI Tools, ATI Tray Tools and Rivatuner; all would only overclock the card a little before crashing. I am sure in the future this card will overclock but currently their arn’t the tools to do it.
Even adding extra cooling didn’t help my overclocking results:
At least using a PhysX card as a fan prop gives it a use…
As usual I will begin my results roundup with the synthetic tests:
Very good to see the x1950 holding its own against the much more expensive cards. Granted it was the slowest of the bunch, but in most tests it wasn’t too far behind the “old” high end card, the x1900.
Next up, the gaming tests.
Similar results again here, the x1950 Pro only lagging behind the x1900 by a little in almost all tests. The only place that it fell behind quite considerably is in the 1600*1200 BF2142 test. This could be atributed to its lack of memory, the Pro only sporting 256mb of DDR3, while all other cards have at least 512mb.
Noise & Cooling
The cooler on the x1950 Pro performed very well, keeping the card at very acceptable temperatures at idle and during full load. Noise wise the cooler is comfortably quiet, only becoming fairly audible at higher RPMs. If you are overclocking, I suggest setting the fan between 70 and 85 percent as this gives you that bit of extra cooling performance without adding to much unwanted noise.
The x1950 can be found at most E-tailers for around £130. This is about 20 to 30 pounds cheaper than an x1900XT which is the next step up performance wise, even if it is part of the previous generation of cards. The x1950 Pro is also about 10 to 15 pounds cheaper than the x1900GT which is pretty similar in performance but is also from the older generation. For mid range card the x1950 Pro is very good value for money.
The x1950 Pro is a fantastic mid range card. It has good performance for such a cheap card, keeping with up with the slightly older x1900XT in all but the more intensive benchmarks. If you are looking for a card that is very much capable of gaming with high detail settings at average resolutions but you don’t fancy breaking the bank, the x1950 Pro is an excellent choice.
|Above average performance||Not the best perforance|
I’d like to thank our sponsors Connect3D for providing us with this GPU.
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