Sapphire Ultimate X1950 Pro 256mb PCI-E

Introduction, Specification & Package

Introduction

With the release of ATI/AMD's R600 graphics card range being 'slightly' delayed, several ATI AIB partners have taken it upon themselves to give the current X1950 Pro specification a bit of a refresh using some good 'ol fashioned overclocking and uprated cooling.

Today we'll be taking a look at Sapphire's flagship X1950 Pro. With a core speed of 580mhz, memory running at 1600mhz and uprated cooling, will this be enough to keep the ATI fans loyal until the R600 makes an appearance?


Specification

The following information has been shamelessly copied from Sapphire's website:

The ULTIMATE Champion of the Mainstream Gaming
Targeting the enthusiast with near-silent cooling and jaw-dropping performance, Sapphire delivers adrenaline inducing features to the mainstream with the ULTIMATE ATI RADEON™ X1950 PRO. The SAPPHIRE ULTIMATE ATI RADEON™ X1950 PRO promises to awaken the senses with blistering frame rates and awe-inspiring graphics while not interfering with your senses due to the use of its near-silent ULTIMATE cooling solution. Free your imagination from the shackles of PC hardware limitations while remaining affordable with the latest edition to the Sapphire ULTIMATE family. The Sapphire X1950 PRO makes for a welcome addition to the family with its robust hardware offerings such as: the industry acclaimed X1950 GPU, 256MB of GDDR3 of onboard memory, CrossFire support, DirectX and OpenGL acceleration along with enhanced support for the Windows Vista™ 3D environment. Experience the price vs. performance champion with the Sapphire ULTIMATE X1950 PRO!

Hot Features
ATI RADEON™ X1950 PRO core (580MHz)
256MB GDDR3 onboard memory (1600MHz)
Windows Vista™ 3D environment Support
Near-Silent Cooling Solution
256-bit Memory Bus
PCI Express x16 / CrossFire support
Full Version Software: Just Cause
Video Acceleration of: MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264
Dual DVI
Tv-Out

And for those of us interested in some of the cards more technical specs...

Features
• 36 pixel shader processors
8 vertex shader processors
Up to 256-bit 8 channel GDDR3 memory interface
Native PCI Express® x16 bus interface
Plug-and-play (native) CrossFire™

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

Anti-Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering
2x/4x/6x Anti-Aliasing modes:
o Sparse multi-sample algorithm with gamma correction, programmable sample patterns, and centroid sampling
o New Adaptive Anti-Aliasing mode
o 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:
o Up to 128-tap texture filtering
o Adaptive algorithm with performance and quality options
Improved rendering with higher subpixel precision and LOD computation levels
o New rotational high quality rendering mode

3Dc+™ — 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 o 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:
o Alternate frame rendering for maximum performance
o Supertiling for optimal load-balancing
o Scissoring for compatibility
o 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 X1950Pro Ultimate makes use of Samsung's K4J55323QG GDDR3 modules rated at 1.4ns. These generally have fairly good overclock potential, and as we can see from the specifications above, Sapphire have already pushed these from the ATI's stock speed of 1380mhz up to 1600mhz. Sapphire have chosen not to overclock the core past the stock speed of 580mhz, which is strange considering the upgraded Zalman cooling on the card.


Packaging

Most modern graphics cards tend to come in cardboard boxes complete with some kind of flashy graphics on the front. However, Sapphire have gone for a more practical and equally attractive approach by placing the card inside frosted plastic packaging. This allows for any pottential buyers to get a good look at the graphics card and its non-stock cooling solution.

Sapphire x1950pro box front Sapphire x1950pro box back

The front and back of the packaging feature a galaxy-like footer along with the trademark Sapphire female CGI character. Minimal information about the card is present, most likely as Sapphire didn't want to clog up the view through the packaging.

Sapphire x1950pro package Sapphire x1950pro package

The X1950Pro is protected by two hardened plastic moulds that join together to enclose the card keeping it relatively safe from any shipping damage. Also included is a black cardboard box that contains the following items:

• 2x DVI > VGA Connector
• 1 x S-Video > Component Connectors & Cables
• 1 x PCI-e > Molex Power Connector
• 1 x Internal Crossfire Bridge
• 1x Full version of Cyberlink PowerDVD
• 1x Driver Disk
• 1x Full version of Just Cause PC game.
• 1x Instruction Manual

The bundled "Just Cause" PC game is a popular title from Eidos and looks somewhat like Rockstar's Grand-Theft Auto adventure game. It would have been nice to see at least one other title included in the package considering this is Sapphire's top-end card at present, however I'm guessing further titles were ommited to keep the overal cost of the card down.
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Most Recent Comments

03-04-2007, 13:03:59

JN
"With the release of ATI/AMD's R600 graphics card range being 'slightly' delayed, we take a look Sapphire's top-of-the-range X1950 Pro based GPU. Overclocked out of the box and complete with a sexy Zalman cooler, will this be enough to keep the ATI fans loyal?"

Linkage

03-04-2007, 13:24:57

equk
Nice review

I like the new OC3D recommended retailers search looks professional.

03-04-2007, 15:58:53

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='equk'
Nice review

I like the new OC3D recommended retailers search looks professional.
Cheers mate. Ye, I still need to do some work on it, but all the prices are live from the retailers (hence why it takes a while to bring up the results).

03-04-2007, 17:09:37

Raging
nice review,looks to be a cracking card with an impressive price tag to boot

03-04-2007, 17:20:30

Ham
Looks good. One last ditch dx9 card before R600 rapes many, many psus?

03-04-2007, 17:22:59

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Ham'
Looks good. One last ditch dx9 card before R600 rapes many, many psus?
We'll have to do an article on how many cheap-o psu's it takes to power it

04-04-2007, 20:50:57

Nagaru
I think the overclocking problems are because of Ati Tool, from the Ati Tool site "All NVIDIA and ATI cards except for Radeon X1950 Pro are supported in this release." The source.

05-04-2007, 05:13:59

Phunky
Nice little read, i think i will be heading back over to ATi once there DX10 range is out.

Nothing has felt quite as good as my old x800xt pe :/

05-04-2007, 05:25:25

FarFarAway
Actually my 6800GT was a legendary card and the best I've felt with an nVidia card ever I think

26-05-2007, 14:51:05

Pred
I just recently got this card and I currently have the GPU overclocked to 641 and the memory overclocked to 844 and it runs stable. If you use atitool, you have to check the driver level overclocking box in order to overclock the memory. Works great, got a 3Dmark05 score of 10520 on my system. Not too bad considering my weak 4000+ single core processor.

26-05-2007, 14:54:01

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Pred'
I just recently got this card and I currently have the GPU overclocked to 641 and the memory overclocked to 844 and it runs stable. If you use atitool, you have to check the driver level overclocking box in order to overclock the memory. Works great, got a 3Dmark05 score of 10520 on my system. Not too bad considering my weak 4000+ single core processor.
Good job Pred and thanks for the info.

Welcome to the forums btw

26-05-2007, 16:58:10

Pred
Glad to be here. I was wondering though... has anyone else been successful at overclocking the memory? From all the forums I've read and reviews, I can't find anyone that's gotten it past 800. I know it's possible, obviously, since I did it.

One other interesting thing to note about the card: I received a model that is obviously a new batch. The heatsink on the end of the card is no longer a gold color and no longer has the "S" on it, it's colored silver now. It also had their latest May release bios on it, which surprised me because the bios was only released about a week and a half or so before I bought the card.
Reply
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