Sapphire Radeon X850 Pro 256MB PCI Express - HotHardware

Sapphire Radeon X850 Pro 256MB PCI Express

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Today, we're going to take a look at the Sapphire Radeon X850 Pro PCI Express Graphics Card.  The X850 Pro follows ATI's reference design closely, sporting 12-Pixel Pipelines and 256MB of GDDR3 memory.  Based on the R480, the X850 Pro offers several advantages over the R423, the core driving the X800 series.  Like the R423, the R480 is built on a 130nm manufacturing process, but with a refined core that has been reworked for lower power requirements and higher yields.  Aside from that, the R480's base design is not all that different from its predecessor.

The Radeon X850 Pro 256MB from Sapphire aims to bring the features of the X850 to the mid-range consumer, offering a solid gaming experience while weighing in about $160 less than the high end Platinum Editions and $110 less than the standard X850 XT, the 16-Pixel Pipe equivalent to the Pro.  On the surface, the card initially appeared to be a standard X850 Pro, but as we dug deeper, we did find that the Sapphire edition deviated from the reference design somewhat.  Let's get down to business and see what the Sapphire Radeon X850 Pro 256MB is all about.

Specifications of the Sapphire Radeon X850 Pro 256MB PCI Express
Slim

Technology Features
* Radeon X850 Pro VPU @ 506MHz
* 256MB of GDDR3 memory @ 1040MHz
* 256-bit memory interface
* 12 parallel pixel pipelines
* PCI Express x16 lane native support or *AGP Models*
* Dual display support
* Dual integrated 400MHz DAC's
* 2048x1536 @ 85Hz Maximum Resolution
* S-Video TV-out port
* Full support for DirectX 9.0 and the latest OpenGL 2.0 functionality
* SMARTSHADER HD technology
* SMOOTHVISION HD technology
* 3Dc High quality 4:1 Normal Map Compression delivers beautiful scenes without the performance hit.
* Unique VIDEOSHADER HD engine uses programmable pixel shaders to accelerate video processing and provide better-looking visuals
* HYPER Z HD is optimized for performance at high display resolutions, including widescreen HDTV resolutions.


Display Features
*Dual integrated display controllers
*Dual integrated 10 bit per channel 400 MHz DACs
*Integrated 165 MHz TMDS transmitter (DVI 1.0 compliant / HDMI interoperable and HDCP ready)
*Integrated TV Output support up to 1024x768 resolution
*YPrPb component output for HDTV display connection*
*Single and dual link external TMDS transmitter support for high resolution and/or multi-monitor DVI configurations
*Compatible with ATI's THEATER™ video decode and capture devices for VIVO (Video Input / Video Output) configurations
Software
*Redline Tweak Utility
*Splinter Cell - Pandora Tomorrow
*Prince of Persia - The Sands of Time
*CyberLink PowerDirector 3D
*CyberLink PowerDVD 5 2 Channel Edition

Retail Package

The Sapphire Radeon X850 Pro 256MB came with a solid retail bundle, chock-full of extras.  The bundled software included Sapphire's Redline Tweak Utility, Splinter Cell - Pandora Tomorrow, Prince of Persia - The Sands of Time, CyberLink PowerDirector 3D, and CyberLink PowerDVD 5 2 Channel Edition.  There is also a User Guide that focuses mainly on driver installation using the included setup CD.

  

The package also comes with ample cabling to take advantage of the card's VIVO functionality.  There was an S-Video cable, Composite cable , Input Cable and YPrPb component output cables for HDTV connection included.  Lastly, was a power adapter to marry a standard molex power supply connector to the card's power block.  Completing the bundle was a DVI-to-VGA adapter.

Redline Tweak Utility

Redline Tweak Utility is a comprehensive tool for customizing, tweaking, overclocking and doing whatever else you can think of to your ATI based graphics card.  The menus are plentiful and so are the options.  In fact, the casual user may find that there are too many options to play with.  Don't fret, though.  The menus are structured clearly with good organization, so it shouldn't take too long to get the hang of it.

      

      

In a nutshell, Redline Tweak Utility offers a window into the inner setting of the graphics card.  The Direct 3D and OpenGL tabs mirror the setting available in ATI's Catalyst drivers.  The Drivers tab gives another avenue into the drivers settings, most of which are also available in the Catalyst driver set.  The real strength is the utility's ability to maintain profiles for multiple games, for greater fine tuning in certain situations.  Additionally, the tool offers a good overclocking tab that can automatically scan for maximum settings as well as artifacts.

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