The Card

The X1650 XT is based on the older X1600 cards, but it's really a completely new spin on the silicon. Although the X1650 has lower clock speeds than the older X1600 XT, we will see better performance out of the X1650 XT because it has twice as many pixel pipelines (24 vs. 12) and internal bridges for CrossFire, which we will touch on later in the review. This new ATI card is fabbed on TSMC's 80 nanometer process. That means the chip is smaller, and it should run cooler as well. This also means it's cheaper for ATI to produce, which could be part of why ATI is offering a part with more pipelines for a (potentially) lower price. The 24 pipeline configuration also fills the gap between the 12 and 36 pipeline parts ATI has been offering. This should give them a little more clock speed flexibility in the mainstream arena.

In performance, the X1650 XT is poised to nudge a few of the current cards on the market out of the way, including the X1650 Pro. Despite the similar product names, like the X1600 XT the X1650 Pro and XT are very different cards. In the past, the X1600 XT was meant by ATI to be competition for the NVIDIA 7600 GT, but as such it was a miserable failure. Its current replacement, the X1650 Pro isn't able to do any better with only a 10MHz boost in core and memory clock speed over the X1600 XT. With the X1650 XT, however, ATI seems to have finally come up with some competition for this mainstream NVIDA card. Of course price will be a factor when trying to determine actual competition and card value, but we will see in our performance section how they compete strictly in the gaming arena.

Speaking of price, as we said in the introduction, the card comes with an ATI MSRP of $150. Whether it will actually be available at this price is anyone's guess, but we feel that given the performance (which we will see next), at this price the X1650 XT would be a good deal. As we've talked about before, price plays a vital role in the success of a graphics card, and no amount of power will make a card worth buying if the price isn't competitive. The value is important when shopping for a new card, and because the GPU market can be very fickle sometimes from week to week, pinning this down can be difficult.



Looking at the X1650 XT, we are initially struck by how it seems nearly identical to the X1600 XT which launched what seems like ages ago. Only by holding the two cards next to each other can you see the subtle differences. Both have dual DVI connections and a matte black heatsink with a small fan in them. Component selection and placement was tweaked probably to accommodate internal CrossFire connectors. As looks go, the X1650 XT isn't nearly as impressive as the X1950 Pro, in fact it's just the opposite. The original reference X1600 XT looked a bit crude in our opinion, and the X1650 XT is no different. But we realize these are only the reference designs, so we'll wait to see what different vendors do before passing aesthetic judgments. Besides, a card's looks are not of any consequence when compared to its performance and value. So moving on, let's take a look at how the X1650 XT's specifications stack up against the rest of the cards out there. Then we'll see how well this ugly duckling from ATI performs.

NVIDIA Graphics Card Specifications
Vert Pipes Pixel Pipes Raster Pipes Core Clock Mem Clock Mem Size (MB) Mem Bus (bits) Price
GeForce 7950 GX2 8x2 24x2 16x2 500x2 600x2 512x2 256x2 $600
GeForce 7900 GTX 8 24 16 650 800 512 256 $450
GeForce 7950 GT 8 24 16 550 700 512 256 $300-$350
GeForce 7900 GT 8 24 16 450 660 256 256 $280
GeForce 7900 GS 7 20 16 450 660 256 256 $200-$250
GeForce 7600 GT 5 12 8 560 700 256 128 $160
GeForce 7600 GS 5 12 8 400 400 256 128 $120
GeForce 7300 GT 4 8 2 350 667 128 128 $100
GeForce 7300 GS 3 4 2 550 400 128 64 $65

ATI Graphics Card Specifications
Vert Pipes Pixel Pipes Raster Pipes Core Clock Mem Clock Mem Size (MB) Mem Bus (bits) Price
Radeon X1950 XTX 8 48 16 650 1000 512 256 $450
Radeon X1900 XTX 8 48 16 650 775 512 256 $375
Radeon X1900 XT 8 48 16 625 725 256/512 256 $280/$350
Radeon X1950 Pro 8 36 12 575 690 256 256 $200-300
Radeon X1900 GT 8 36 12 575 600 256 256 $220
Radeon X1650 XT 8 24 8 575 675 256 128 $150-250
Radeon X1650 Pro 5 12 4 600 700 256 128 $99
Radeon X1600 XT 5 12 4 590 690 256 128 $150
Radeon X1600 Pro 5 12 4 500 400 256 128 $100
Radeon X1300 XT 5 12 4 500 400 256 128 $89
Radeon X1300 Pro 2 4 4 450 250 256 128 $79


With more vertex power and a higher potential fill rate, we can expect the RV560 (the chip behind the X1650 XT) to perform in a more well balanced manner than RV530 (the heart of the X1600 XT). Double the raster pipes not only means better frame rates at higher resolution, but better Antialiasing and Z/stencil performance as well. More stencil and Z power should contribute to higher performance in advanced shadow rendering techniques, and the benefit of higher performance AA on a mainstream part speaks for itself.

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  • cornfedone - Monday, October 30, 2006 - link

    If people stop buying over-priced, over-hyped graphics cards the prices will come down. If people stop pre-ordering paper launched video, mobo, and other PC products, the prices will come down. As long as consumers act stupid and spend money like a drunken sailor then they will be exploited by unscrupulous companies. Reply
  • yacoub - Monday, October 30, 2006 - link

    This will not change until after the recession/crash, possible depression, that is coming soon. Reply
  • Niv KA - Monday, October 30, 2006 - link

    There is a quote I remember, but I don't know from who or the exact quote itself

    quote:

    The Computer industry is only based on the fact that 80% of the customers are dumb

    I'm not sure if it was 80% or the quote was structured that way, I just remember hearing it somewhere... not reading, hearing, from someone important, but I forgot who!
    Reply
  • yacoub - Monday, October 30, 2006 - link

    Funny having to go to the Crossfire graphs to see how the 7900GT (non SLI) performs compared to it. The end result: Another budget card that seems rather pointless these days when anyone spending $200 on a GPU should be getting something that can at least play these games that are two years old without having to sacrifice framerates so much. Come on now... Reply
  • Spoelie - Monday, October 30, 2006 - link

    x1650pro still is competition for 7600gs. x1950pro in europe has an okay price (lowest around €180), but availability a bit tight. 7600gt sli benches missing from battlefield graph! Reply
  • viperboy2025 - Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - link

    Anandtech are on crack or something, or they woke up on the bad ATI side in the morning cause they kept bashing them for around 3 or more pages about the price of x1950 pro nto being the said $200 but being $300. I've actually bought one for $205 yesterday recently and there are other ones selling at similar price...

    $203.99 - (from zipzoomflt.com actually went down by $1 from when i bought it 2 days ago)...Sapphire RADEON X1950 PRO 256MB PCI-Express Dual-DVI, HDTV-Out Retail FREE SHIPPING

    $199.99 - (from zipzoomfly..currently out of stock though) Asus EAX1950PRO/HTDP/256M Radeon X1950 Pro 256MB PCI-Express Dual-DVI, HDTV-Out Retail ***Free Shipping***

    $199.99 - also from zipzoomfly are x1950 pro from makers of Connect3D and Diamond Viper - (this one is actually higher core clocked to 600MHz rather than 575)

    Only cards on zipzoomfly that are over $200 are one from Gigabyte which is $229.99 but its out of stock so its useless anyways considering there are many others to choose from. There is also one manufactured by ATI themselves but who would buy that considering its at stock speeds and $279.99, $80 above all those other cards...

    Newegg also has the saphire card at $199.99 plus shipping, and it also offers the ATI version at a ridicously overpriced price which is stupid for anyone to go for considering you can get the same card, higher clocked from a different manufacturer for $80 less and shouldn't be taken seriously by anandtech enough to bash ATI for 3-4 pages about all their 1950 pro cards being close to $300 and not near $200 as they promised. Since only one version of that card is offered at an insane inflated price.

    The $200 dollar saphire is also available from pcconnection.com

    Reply
  • viperboy2025 - Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - link

    i know this was a 1650xt pro review but to add another thing anandtech keeps commenting about is that, the x1950 pro is competitive (actually they do they its also better) than the nvidia 7900 GS given their similar price similarity but if you looked at the performance charts some reviews ago about the x1950 pro it is actually very competitive with the 7900GT as a single card solution and they are nearly the same, but the GT costs $300 so in other words ATI owned 7900GT and the lower end 7900GS variant which is so outperformed that it shouldn't even be mentioned, unless you are going to SLi route which is the only thing that helps nvidia cards scale better against ATI crossfire, NVIDIA lost that battle. But one thing to keep in mind is SLI motherboards are way more expansive than single pci-e solution cards, so if you have a big purse, you should be looking for a more powerful card anyways if you haven't gotten one already, also SLI is not really a worth it (value) solution since it would require you to dish out about $400 for 2 7900GS cards or $550-600 for 2 7900GT cards, if you have that kind of money you should be buying a more powerfulful and mroe high-end card anyways, as most review sites will tell you if money allows, always go for a more powerful card rather than doing SLI/crossfire, since those are only options for future upgrades if you are running low on graphics power rather than being a real/viable current graphics solution. (eg the nvidia $500 7950GX2 SLI on 1 card is a better solution than 2 7900GT cards, and you don't even need an SLI mobo for it since it uses one PCI-e lane) Reply
  • kalrith - Tuesday, October 31, 2006 - link

    The 7900GT hasn't cost $300 in quite some time. At ZZF you can get it for either http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Pr...">$200 after a $20 MIR or http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Pr...">$190 after a $40 MIR. The $200 one is overclocked from 470/1.37GHz to 500/1.5GHz, which might be enough to put the 7900GT in the lead over the X1950PRO.

    Either way, both are good cards, and both are the same price. I just wanted to clear things up and say that the following statement is false: "the GT costs $300 so in other words ATI owned 7900GT".
    Reply
  • viperboy2025 - Friday, November 3, 2006 - link

    btw i got my new ATI card saphire x1950 pro and its great....it comes clocked at (core/memory) 581 MHz/701MHz (x2=1402 Mhz effective memory) which is faster than the 7900GT. I also easily got the ATI card to overlock to 621Mhz/781 x2 = 1562 Mhz effective, which makes this card incredibly fast...if you wanted to get a graphx card that will last you a good two years for games or more look no further, it even comes at a great price of only $200. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, October 30, 2006 - link

    BF2 7600 GT SLI performance is now added to the top graph. It was in the scaling graph but somehow left out of the 1600x1200-only chart. Reply

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