Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) have come on leaps and bounds in the last year as we saw the two graphics giants, ATI and Nvidia, battling it out for the performance crown. Unfortunately for the ATI fan boys Nvidia stormed ahead with the release of their 8800 range of cards. However, all is not lost as ATI’s hard hitting x1950 series of cards comes with a brand new cooler, DDR4 and claims of excellent image quality. Today we have Connect3D’s x1950XTX, read on to see what we thought.
A little about Connect3D
Connect3D is the main certified AiB partner of ATI in Europe and a major partner of ATI in the Americas specialising in the design, manufacture and supply of ATI powered Radeon® Add in Boards. Dedicated to providing excellent service and the highest quality products Connect3D has established distribution channels to system builders and major OEM’s in numerous countries worldwide.
NB. Connect3D’s blurb taken from the Connect3D website.
Connect3D’s take on the x1950XTX
Prepare your rig for the future of games with the Radeon™ X1950 series —the fastest consumer 3D graphics processor on the planet. With its ultra-threaded engine and unparalleled shader performance, the Radeon™ X1950 delivers maximum graphical detail at incredible frame rates. Then go beyond games with Avivo™ video and display technology and watch HD movies and digital photos come to life.
NB. For Con3D’s full description of the x1950XTX, please visit their website.
- 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
NB. For a full feature listing please visit the Con3D website.
Bits and Box
The x1950’s box comes in the typical Con3D red grunge style with black edging and the odd looking silver woman(ish) staring at you intently. It also has some basic specifications of the card along with the statement that the card is both Crossfire and Vista ready.
The back of the box features some slightly more in depth features and specifications as per usual.
Inside the box is a nice assortment of goodies like cables, VGA to Digital converters, a driver CD, manual and of course the card itself. No games included with this, but you do get some free video editing software so that should placate those that like a fancy bundle.
The x1950XTX Up close and Personal
The Connect3D x1950XTX measures in at just over 24cm, so is quite a large card as well as being quite a weighy piece of hardware too. Much of this weight is down to the fact that the x1950 comes equipped with the fetching, new ATI cooler; a large, red, transparent beast of a thing. Beneath the fan housing it is quite clear to see the large and convoluted heatsink.
This cooler features heatpipe technology to aide the transfer of heat from the GPU to the heatsink. Heatpipes are hollowed pipes (Usually copper) that are either filled with a liquid with a high heat conductivity or a fine powder (Again, usually copper). Both these methods are far more effective than using solid copper or aluminium to transfer the heat therefore they are used to provide a pathway for the heat to travel from the core to the large surface area of the heatsink fins. Once the heat reaches the heatsink, a fan draws air from inside the case and blows it over the heatsink before expelling it out of the rear of the case.
The rear of the card has a small grill to stop you or any young un’s that are about sticking their fingers in.
The back of the x1950 has a large X shaped mounting plate and a load of other screws to hold up the huge cooler. The x1900 range of cards was plagued by noisy and poor performing stock cooling, hopefully ATI’s new offering will be an improvement.
NB. All percentages apart from those in the summary graph are rounded to the nearest percent.
To test these modules I ran through several benchmarking tests, some synthetic and some real world gaming tests. These tests were performed using the following components:
Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2.7ghz
Asus P5W DH Deluxe
Hiper TypeR 580w PSU
The tests that were run on this card were as follows:
3Dmark01, 3Dmark03, 3Dmark05, 3Dmark06, FEAR benchmark, X3 Reunion benchmark, Half Life 2 Lost Coast demo and our very own Battlefield 2142 benchmark.
To make sure that the results are accurate and fair, all tests were run three times and the average was taken from the three results.
For a performance comparison I used a Sapphire x1900XT overclocked to XTX speeds. It will be interesting to see the difference in performance between the two generations of cards.
The first set of tests I ran was the synthetic 3Dmark series of benchmarks which were all run at their stock settings with only the free version’s tests being run.
3Dmark01 shows a small speed increase equating to an overall score increase of about 3% when moving from the x1900XT to the x1950XTX.
3Dmark03 yeielded a much better increase, giving us a nice 5% overall improvement.
3Dmark05 again showed only modest gains when moving from the x1900XT to the x1950XTX; in this case only a 4% increase.
3Dmark06 showed a nicer increase in speed, giving us another overall boost in score of 5%. 3Dmark06 utilises shader model 3, HDR lighting and runs at a higher resolution at stock than the other 3Dmark applications. This is where the DDR4 will have helped the x1950 pull away from the x1900 a little more.
Results continued on the next page.
Having performed several synthetic tests on the cards, I decided it was time for a little gaming testing. First up was a slightly ageing favourite, the F.E.A.R benchmark; which was run with both simple settings set to “Maximum”.
Again, a modest but nice speed increase. The average frames per second (FPS) were improved by 4% here. Both these cards are easily capabale of running this game at full tilt but the frame rate differences are still there.
Next up was two more old(ish) favourites, Half Life 2: Lost Coast and the X3 Reunion benchmark.
Both benchmarks showed very little difference between the two cards, giving just a 1% increase in frame rates each.
The final test that I ran was designed to be a bit more stressful on the cards. For this you need a much more modern game. I chose our in-house built Battlefield 2142 demo that involves a figter fly by, a short buggy chase sequence and an APC/Transport crash as a finale. This test is run at 1280×1024 with all settings at maximum, including 16x Anistropic Filtering (AF) and 4x Anti Aliasing (AA).
There we go, much better. In this test we had a very tasty increase of 8% on the average frame rates when going from the x1900 to the x1950. Other more modern games would probably show similar performance games as the x1950 is able flex its proverbial muscles.
Here is a quick summary of the percentage difference in score or FPS when going comparing a x1900 to a x1950:
NB. The “Lowest” “Average” and “Highest” percentages relate to FEAR’s lowest, average and highest frame rates.
Unfortunately the cooling on this card was not as impressive as I had hoped it would be. The card often idled around 60 degrees, granted this is with the fan speed at around 30% but there is a reason. At 100% this fan is incredibly noisy. I would reccommend that if you buy this card, the first thing you do is get an aftermarket cooler, as when the temperature increases during a game and the fan follows suit to control it, it can be heard over gaming noises and through headphones.
Overclocking was very poor on this card. This can probably be atributed to the severely lacking cooler as under loqd this card would reach the high eighties at stock speeds. However, I was able to overclock the core by 25mhz which increased my 3Dmark06 score from 6596 to 6736 which equates to a 2% score increase. This overclock could not be maintained for long however so if you are looking to overclock, I would highly recommend some AS5 and an aftermarket cooler.
The difference in cost between the two cards is about £50. The x1900 costs between £180 and £200 and the x1950 is usually around the £250 mark.
The x1950 is a fantastic card with top notch performance and plenty of features that will allow for high resolution gaming. Where the x1950XTX really falls down is its cooler. If it were just a little less noisy and a little more powerful, it would be bearable, but as it is, it’s not pleasant to be around.
When looking at the comparison results, it is obvious there is not a huge difference between the previous generation of cards (x1900s) and the the latest (x1950s). However, there is a difference none the less. Therefore I would recommend if you have an older generation card, x8XX series or perhaps a card from the x18XX generation then the x1950 would be an excellent upgrade choice for you. However, if you currently own a card from the x1900 generation you will see no real improvements over your current card and you would be better off waiting for ATI’s new offerings in the coming months.
|High Performance||Horrendously loud and poor performing cooler|
|Reasonable Price||Doesn’t overclock|
|Good upgrade choice||Not a lot better than x1900 range|
I’d like to thank our sponsors Connect3D for providing us with this GPU.
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