Sapphire Radeon X1950 GT 256 MB
It's hard to get truly excited about a card like the Radeon X1950 GT when you simply look at its specifications. The card is based on a GPU which has been out for quite a long time now, and in the case of this "new" card, ATI has decided to simply run it at slower speeds than before. Sapphire's Radeon X1950 GT has the identical PCB and cooling system to the Radeon X1950 Pro. Making things worse is the constant barrage of press in regards to ATI's upcoming DirectX 10 hardware, which is scheduled to launch in the next few months, which makes DirectX 9 class GPUs like this all that much more un-interesting to enthusiasts.
However, this card is not designed for those who want the latest and greatest, but is designed for those who want a refined, stable card at a low price point. For this potential market, the X1950 GT hits the mark quite well. The Radeon X1950 GT greatly outperforms previous ATI cards in this price point. This card works quite well with all modern titles, and even has enough graphics horsepower to run fairly high-end games with FSAA and aniso filtering enabled and keep frame-rates high. In addition, the card has excellent image quality, video hardware acceleration, and supports HDCP content protection, for those who want to push Blu-Ray/HD-DVD content on their systems.
Sapphire has packaged the card with a nice bundle of accessories and cables, although we do feel that they could have packaged the card with a better overall cooling system. The stock cooling system is, unfortunately, quite loud, as the fan does not support thermal monitoring out of the box, even though the moderately clocked 80nm GPU underneath runs quite cool under most scenarios. While the fan speed can be controlled through software, it must be done with a third-party application, which users shouldn't have to find on their own.
Gaming performance isn't spectacular for this card, and we would recommend that gamers on a budget look towards the low-end Radeon X1950 XT 256MB cards, which are about $100 more, but offer substantially better gaming performance compared to the X1950 GT series. For those looking for mid-range gaming abilities, for say World of Warcraft or Civilization 4, with a nice set of outputs and video capabilities at a low price point, the X1950 GT is a surprisingly well rounded card. Throw in the fact that it's nicely overclockable and it makes the package an even better value. For $150, it's hard to go wrong here.