Sapphire x1950 PRO Ultimate Edition

Makaveli - 2007-07-13 20:43:23 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: Makaveli   
Reviewed on: July 24, 2007
Sapphire
Sapphire
Price: $176.99

Introduction:

Is your video card's fan too loud? Do you want to be able to play your games in almost silent conditions to allow you to focus and dominate the competition? What if I told you that there was a video card that was silent but still gave you great framerates to play the graphically challenging games you love? Let's see if Sapphire's X1950 PRO Ultimate Edition, with a Zalman heatsink and fan, is the card you're looking for. From past experience with both Sapphire and Zalman, I have a feeling that this will be a deadly combination. We're going to find out how well this card does against other mainstream video cards, as well as some high-end video cards.

Sapphire is a leading partner with ATi. The company creates innovative, unique, and quality products for PC users all over the world. Sapphire is one of the most highly respected and trusted video card manufacturers. Partnering up with Zalman, they bring us "The Ultimate Silent Solution." Let's put that claim to the test.

Closer Look:

The box that the Sapphire X1950 PRO Ultimate Edition was packaged in was quite large. It had a see-thru display of the card with a robotic woman on the cover. On the back of the box, it shows some of the key features.

 


Once you get the card out, you get to see how nice the Zalman heatsink and fan is. Notice the power port, dual DVI connectors, and Crossfire connectors.

 

 


At the bottom of the box, you'll find a black box that includes a plethora of accessories. Inside is the user manual, driver CD, HDTV breakout cable, Crossfire bridge, S-Video cable, four-pin to six-pin power cable converter, DVI to D-Sub converters, a copy of PowerDVD, and a copy of the game Just Cause.

 

Installation:

Installing the Sapphire X1950 PRO Ultimate Edition was a breeze. All you need to do is remove all of the current display drivers on your computer, power it down, open up your computer, and take out the old video card. Then pop in the X1950 PRO and plug in your six-pin power cable into the video card's power port. Close up your case, plug in your power supply, and power on your computer. Insert the driver CD as soon as you get the chance and follow the on-screen instructions. Make sure that you check out Sapphire's website for the most recent drivers for the X1950 PRO.

 

 

Configuration:

Catalyst Control Center (CCC) and the display drivers can be installed by following the on-screen instructions.


When everything is installed, you'll have two options to view the Catalyst Control Center: the "Basic" way or the "Advanced" way. I'm going to be thoroughly examining the "Advanced" options.

 

 

"Displays Manager" is the place that you can change the resolution, color quality, and refresh rates, among other things. In "Display Options," you can turn on things such as "3D Refresh Rate Override" and display management.

 

 

You can change your monitor properties, performance versus quality settings, Avivo Color options, and all of your other color settings.

 

 


Since I'm an avid overclocker, I was glad to see the "ATi Overdrive" option.


Now that the Catalyst Control Center has been examined, let's test this card!

Specifications:

 

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:
    • 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® 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+™ — 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

Testing:

The Sapphire X1950 PRO Ultimate Edition is going to be put to the test through OverclockersClub.com's difficult series of benchmarks. We perform benchmarks with the most popular games on the market and we perform them at realistic resolutions that everyone can achieve.

Test System:

Comparison Cards:

 Gaming Benchmarks:

 

Benchmark: Far Cry

Personally, I like to start on Far Cry because it is an older game and it's good to see how newer cards compare against some of the older cards that I've tested with Far Cry.

Settings:

 

 

 

Testing:

Benchmark: F.E.A.R.

One of the most popular first person shooters out today is F.E.A.R.. This game has its own built-in benchmark that we will be using to test the X1950 PRO Ultimate.

 

 

 

Settings:

 

 

 

Testing:

Benchmark: Call of Duty 2

One of OverclockersClub.com's game servers is for this popular World War II first person shooter game, Call of Duty 2.

 

 

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

Testing:

Benchmark: Quake 4

Quake 4 is a popular futuristic first person shooter.

 

 

 

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

Testing:

Benchmark: Need For Speed Most Wanted

Part of the popular ongoing racing series dubbed "Need For Speed," this is one of the more recent installments called "Need For Speed: Most Wanted".

 

 

 

 

Settings:

 

 

 

Testing:

Benchmark: Microsoft Flight Simulator X

Join us as we take a scenic flight over Hawaii in the grapically challenging game, Microsoft Flight Simulator X.

 

 

 

 

Settings:

 

 

 

Testing:

Benchmark: 3D Mark 06

3DMark06 is part of a popular video card and total system series of benchmarks.

 

 

 

 

Settings:

 

 

 

Testing:

Benchmark: RyderMark

Based on a boat racing game in Venice, Italia, RyderMark is a new graphically challenging benchmark produced by Candella Software. Look back for an official review of the benchmark!

 

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion:

I am very impressed with Sapphire's X1950 PRO Ultimate Edition video card. It was completely silent, even when it was being stressed for an extended period of time. And what about the numbers it shelled out? The X1950 PRO definitely held its own and took over its rival, the eVGA 7950 GT KO, in some of the benchmarks. The card took the lead, in my mind, when it took over the 7950GT in 3DMark06 since that is a very good benchmark to gauge a video card's performance. Not only is this video card silent, it pushes out good numbers in some high resolutions. I would use this video card over the 7950 GT not only because of how quiet it is, but how it really keeps up with, and in some cases out performs, the 7950GT in a number of benchmarks. I was suprised to see how well this card did in Direct3D games such as Microsoft Flight Simulator X. This card is a DirectX 9 card, so it's not geared for DirectX 10 games. Being a mainstream card, this product definitely performed very well. What really caught my attention was the price. A card that is silent and performs great for a price like that? Don't pass up the Sapphire X1950 PRO Ultimate Edition video card. Great job to Zalman and Sapphire for creating an excellent product that stands up to the claim of being "The Ultimate Silent Solution".

 

Pros:

 

 

Cons: