Sapphire Radeon X1900 XTX

Review

posted 4/5/2006 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC

AVIVO is something I talk about a lot when doing All-in-Wonder card reviews but the same applies to any X1XXX card such as the one we are reviewing today. One of the great features of AVIVO is hardware assisted H.264 decoding. H.264 is a codec that’s going to be in many of the next generation multimedia formats such as Blu-ray and HD-DVD. With the latest drivers and Cyberlink’s driver, you can use the Radeon X1900 XTX to help assist with decoding the video so your CPU isn’t being taxed as much. Another aspect of AVIVO is the ability to easily convert media from one format to another. ATI includes a free utility accessible through the Catalyst menu to select one media source, adjust the quality, and output the file in another format that you select. ATI took a little time to really bring out the aspects of AVIVO for users but they’re available now and can really improve your multimedia experience.

There’s a slight problem though relating to AVIVO and high definition video as this card and current cards don’t have HDCP support. HDCP is what the entertainment industry will require on TVs and output devices to ensure that you’re viewing high definition material that’s digitally protected. A discussion on HDCP is best left to other sites but as a digital media geek, I am a little disappointed that this card currently doesn’t have HDCP support. This should all change soon though.

The card is a two slot solution as the cooler will occupy the neighboring slot. The large cooler’s becoming pretty standard as it features a large heatsink and an exhaust so that it will expel warm air out the back of the case rather than circulating more in the computer. The design is the traditional red PCB with the Sapphire branding on the cooler. There’s nothing that distinguishes this card from the rest but that’s left to the Blizzard line that Sapphire has cooking up right now. As is, you won’t find anything unique as far as the physical aspect is concerned for this card over ATI’s own.

On the bracket you can see the grill for the exhaust as well as two DVI connectors and a S-Video output. If you’re still stuck with VGA connections, Sapphire has included two adapters so you can connect the card to older monitors.

For the bundle Sapphire has included a plethora of cables. If you want to connect the card to an HD TV, you can use the included component cables if your TV doesn’t have a DVI connector. There are also cables for composite connections and S-Video.

Sapphire has a unique software bundling solution whereby all the games come on one DVD and you have the ability to unlock two that you would like to keep. Dubbed Sapphire Select, you can try out all the games and pick the ones you want to keep. If you want to purchase the other games, you can do so and usually at a discounted price. It’s a great way to bundle a lot of games in one box and Sapphire continues to update the selection as newer products are released.

So let’s get onto the test. We don’t have a comparative NVIDIA product here to run the tests against so we’ll pit it against the $200 less All-in-Wonder X1900 just to show the difference in speeds of the lowest and highest X1900 cards available. Tests were done with Catalyst 6.3.

Our test setup included:

  • AMD64 3800+
  • 512MB PC3200 RAM
  • ECS KA1 MVP Crossfire motherboard
  • Windows XP w/ Service Pack 2
  • Maxtor 120 GIG 7200RPM HDD

Our first test will be the synthetic Futuremark test, 3DMark06.

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