Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro - HotHardware

Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro

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Today's high-end flagship video cards may cost an arm and a leg, but that segment of the market is not where the real money is. The big money is made in the low-end and mid-range (or mainstream) segments of the market. It's simple really: most people shopping for a video card have budgeted $100-250, while relatively few have $400+ budgets for just graphics.

Less than two months ago, ATI dropped a new pixel-pushing soldier into the battle for mid-range supremacy. That soldier came in the form of the Radeon X1950 Pro, and it fights the good fight for about $200. Today, we'll be looking at Sapphire's version of the X1950 Pro.

One of the coolest features of the X1950 Pro is its new Native CrossFire support, which means you won't need a master CrossFire card with the X1950 Pro if you want to run in multi-GPU mode. And no more clunky dongle; a welcomed change indeed. In addition to the Native CrossFire support, the X1950 Pro features 256MB of GDDR3 memory, 36 pixel shader processors and 8 vertex shader processors. The specs look good.  But how does it really perform? Let's put Sapphire's X1950 Pro through its paces and find out.

Sapphire Radeon X1950 Pro: Features & Specs
Don't call it a rookie...it's a Pro!
Features
RADEON X1950 PRO core (580MHz)
256MB GDDR3 onboard memory (1400MHz)
Windows Vista 3D environment Support
36 pixel shader processors
256-bit Memory Bus
PCI Express x16 / CrossFire support
Pixel Shader Version 3.0
Video Acceleration of: MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264
Dual DVI
Video-In and Video-Out
 
Technical Specifications

Shader Technology

  • Support for Microsoft(R) DirectX(R) 9.0 programmable vertex and pixel shaders in hardware
  • Shader Model 3.0 vertex and pixel shader support:
          - Full speed 32-bit floating point processing
          - High dynamic range rendering with floating point blending and anti-aliasing support
          - High performance dynamic branching and flow control
  • Complete feature set also supported in OpenGL(R) 2.0

Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering

  • 2x/4x/6x Anti-Aliasing modes:
          - Sparse multi-sample algorithm with gamma correction, programmable sample patterns, and centroid sampling
          - New Adaptive Anti-Aliasing mode
          - Temporal Anti-Aliasing
  • Lossless Color Compression (up to 6:1) at all resolutions, up to and including widescreen HDTV
  • 2x/4x/8x/16x Anisotropic Filtering modes:
          - Up to 128-tap texture filtering
          - Adaptive algorithm with performance and quality options
  • Improved rendering with higher subpixel precision and LOD computation levels
          - New rotational high quality rendering mode

3Dc+TM - Advanced Texture Compression

  • High quality 4:1 compression for normal maps and luminance maps
  • Works with any single-channel or two-channel data format

Ring Bus Memory Controller

  • Programmable arbitration logic maximizes memory efficiency, software upgradeable
  • New fully associative texture, color, and Z cache design
  • Hierarchical Z-Buffer with Early Z Test
  • Lossless Z-Buffer Compression (up to 48:1)
  • Fast Z-Buffer Clear
  • Z Cache optimized for real-time shadow rendering
  • Optimized for performance at high display resolutions, up to and including widescreen HDTV

Avivo Video and Display Engine

  • New advanced video capabilities, including high fidelity gamma, color correction and scaling
  • Dual independent display controllers that support true 30 bits per pixel throughout the display pipe
  • Full symmetry on both heads
  • Each display interface supports display resolutions beyond 2560x1600
  • Advanced DVI capabilities, including 10-bit, 16-bit HDR output
  • YPrPb component output for direct drive of HDTV displays
  • Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time
  • MPEG1/2/4 decode and encode acceleration
  • DXVA support
          - Hardware motion compensation, iDCT, DCT and color space conversion
  • All-format DTV/HDTV decoding
  • Adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing and frame rate conversion (temporal filtering)

CrossFire

  • Multi-GPU technology
  • Four modes of operation:
          - Alternate frame rendering for maximum performance
          - Supertiling for optimal load-balancing
          - Scissoring for compatibility
          - Super AA for maximum image quality
  • Native CrossFire support simplifies setup by requiring no dedicated slave or master hardware
  • 24-bit CrossFire connection enables high resolutions and refresh rates
  • Supports the broadest range of platforms for both Intel and AMD

  

The Sapphire X1950 Pro comes nestled in typical Sapphire packaging; there's the iconic, futuristic, sexy female robot mascot, the teaser window and all the marketing logos. In case you're not sure, big stickers point out that the card is HDCP and Windows Vista ready.

    

Inside the box, Sapphire packs a couple handfuls of accessories: an S-video cable, a composite video cable, a PCI Express power cable, two VGA-to-DVI adapters, an HDTV-out cable, a composite-to-S-video adapter, and a CrossFire ribbon connector. In addition to the accessories, Sapphire includes a multi-language user manual, an installation driver CD, CyberLink PowerDVD 6 (2-channel version), and The Da Vinci Code game. It's nice to see a game included, but we doubt many gamers will be very excited about The Da Vinci Code game in particular.

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