Design and Features
Despite it's relatively moderate performance, the original (single-GPU) Radeon X1950 Pro was a fairly large card in comparison to other mid-range cards. Thus, when two of them are essentially fused together, the end result is a massive product, both in terms of width and height. At first glance, the card doesn't look that large in these photos, but only when you compare the size of the card to its fixed-dimension components, like the PCI Express slot and DVI ports, can you really gauge how large it really is. It's easily the tallest and longest card we've ever had the chance of using.
X1950 Pro Dual - Top
X1950 Pro Dual - Bottom
Another great way to show off the size is to compare it to a "standard" sized graphics card, like the GeForce 7900 card seen below. The Radeon X1950 Pro Dual simply dwarfs this other card. The Radeon X1950 Pro Dual is, in comparison, also quite a larger than GeForce 8800 and GeForce 7950 GX2 graphics cards.
GeForce 7900 on top with Sapphire's Radeon X1950 Pro Dual below.
The size is certainly a major factor in this card's acceptance into the market. The dimensions mean that it will not fit in a majority of standard ATX sized cases on the market. In order to run this graphics card, the use of an Extended ATX class chassis is almost a requirement. The Antec Titan 550 EATX case which was used for testing just barely worked, and even through there was enough room, it made routing cabling around the hard disks a painful process.
In addition, this card suffers from minor weight related issues due to a majority of the cooling system's weight focused on the center of the board, whereas the board is only screwed into place by a single screw on the left side. The unbalanced weight could be an issue if the card was to travel long distances when installed in a system - say to a large LAN Party. However, due to its size, we don't see OEM adoption being a huge factor with this particular product - it's targeted directly at enthusiasts who will install the card themselves.
Sitting on top of the two Radeon X1950 Pro graphics processors (along with a PCI Express bridge chip) is a massive aluminum alloy heatpipe based cooling system. The cooling system covers both GPU cores, both sets of memory chips, and the PCIe bridge chip. Each GPU interacts with its own heat plate which moves heat to the heatpipes and a series of aluminum alloy fins. All of these components are cooled by a single 80mm fan which sits in the center of the board. The fan is thermally controlled and will spin up and down depending on the load of the graphics card. During testing, we were able to monitor GPU temperatures, which showed the graphics processors running at 42-44°C while idling, while testing showed temperatures hitting levels between 59-64°C under load.
The cooling system is certainly quieter than what we would hear from two independent Radeon X1950 Pro cards, but is not whisper silent. It's not loud, and certainly very tolerable, but there are quieter solutions out there. The fan will spin up fairly fast when the card is under heavy load. It takes about one minute of heavy graphics action to force the fan to get knocked up into a higher zone, which makes fan speeds quite audible. Certainly not annoyingly loud, but noticeable nonetheless.