Extras and Overclocking
Extras, Add-Ons, and Overclocking
For a board that reaches down into the mid-range and value segments, the Sapphire Radeon X1950 GT is surprisingly feature packed. Software wise, Sapphire includes a driver disc, an OEM copy of PowerDVD 6.0, and a copy of "Just Cause", a GTA-style game which has garnered mediocre reviews.
Hardware wise, Sapphire has done a superb job of making sure all your needs are covered out of the box. Sapphire includes a PCI Express converter cable for those who don't have a PCIe compatible power supply, to start off with. In terms of video signal, Sapphire includes S-Video, Composite, and Component (HDTV) connectors in the box, along with an S-Video to Composite adapter as well. Two DVI to HD-15 cables are bundled in the box too.
Sapphire bundles an internal Crossfire connector as well, seen below. While the board has two Crossfire connectors on the top, Sapphire has done the smart thing and only bundled one cable per card. While both cables are needed for Crossfire to run, when a second card is purchased, this would have the second connector needed connect the cards together. The connector is similar to Nvidia's SLI bridges, but is somewhat flexible. Keep in mind that with this connector, your PCI Express x16 slots must only have one slot in-between them, otherwise the connector will not reach.
For testing, we used ATI's latest Catalyst 7.2 driver set for Windows XP, which worked great on our first attempt. We also attempted to do Windows Vista testing, although this was a bit more troublesome. While Sapphire claims that the card has Windows Vista support out of the box, their bundled driver disc would not install drivers properly for Windows Vista (32-bit). ATI's Catalyst 7.2 downloadable driver for Vista would not work either, not detecting the Radeon X1950 GT hardware. Sapphire's technical support responded to our inquiry about this issue quickly, but did not offer a workable suggestion. Ultimately, we had to manually force a driver install with Vista, using a Radeon X1950 Pro driver, which worked fine as the X1950 Pro and GT share the same architecture. Just something potential buyers might need to keep in mind, Vista support doesn't seem to be quite there yet, despite Sapphire's claims.
The board is interesting from an overclocking standpoint, as the stock 500 MHz RV570 graphics processor can overclock quite heavily, but the memory would not budge. Using RivaTuner 2.0, we were able to push the GPU up to 625 MHz, a 25% gain in GPU performance. However, pushing up the memory by even miniscule portions led us to screen freezes and the driver sending us back to VPU safe modes. We've included benchmarks of the card at its stock 500 MHz GPU / 1.2 GHz DDR speeds as well as overclocked 625 MHz / 1.2 GHz DDR speeds.