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Conclusion

PowerColor’s version of the ATI Radeon X1950 Pro graphics card has showed itself a well-made product. Its key feature is the unique cooling system developed by Arctic Cooling. This made the PowerColor X1950 Pro Extreme larger, but also almost silent, notwithstanding its increased GPU and memory frequencies.

Alas, this Extreme card from PowerColor is not extremely faster in comparison with the reference Radeon X1950 Pro. There is tiny difference between them in most applications, 5% at best, while the overclocking potential of the PowerColor card is near zero (this may refer to our sample of the card only; other samples may be better at overclocking).

The PowerColor X1950 Pro Extreme has exhibited all of the strong aspects of the standard Radeon X1950 Pro. That is, it beat the competing GeForce 7900 GS in almost each and every test we tried them in. In some cases, particularly in Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, Prey and Quake 4 , the small performance increase over the reference card helped the PowerColor catch up with the Nvidia card, thus becoming an overall winner even in those applications where the GeForce 7900 GS performed on its home turf.

It’s about the accessories that we’ve got some complaints to express. First, there is only one DVI-I → D-Sub adapter included whereas the card has two DVI connectors. Second, the lack of a flexible connecting bridge may make it impossible to build a CrossFire configuration in case you purchase a second card in the future because it’s next to impossible to find this bridge selling separately. So make sure, that you request this cable from PowerColor, as they assured us that they would be supplying all the users who received no cable with their card for free. The user manual might also be more informative and detailed, especially as we didn’t find a full electronic version of the manual on the CD with drivers. But besides these things, the accessories to the PowerColor X1950 Pro Extreme 256MB are sufficient and do not include any extras that would make the product more expensive.

So, we’ve got positive feelings about the PowerColor X1950 Pro Extreme 256MB. A relatively small sum of money buys you a high-performance mainstream solution, a little faster than the standard Radeon X1950 Pro. It provides a high-quality anisotropic filtering, unachievable on same-class solutions from Nvidia, and comes with an efficient Arctic Cooling Accelero X2 cooler. Unfortunately, it’s going to be difficult to built CrossFire configurations out of two such cards because PowerColor doesn’t think it necessary to include appropriate connectors.

Highs:

  • Best performance in the $199 category
  • Outperforms its market rival in a vast majority of games
  • Supports FSAA and HDR simultaneously
  • VIVO
  • Supports hardware decoding of H.264 and other HD formats
  • Highly effective Arctic Cooling Accelero X2 cooler
  • Low noise level

Lows:

  • Rather high power consumption
  • Long PCB and the non-standard cooler may make it impossible to install the card into a small system case
  • Dual-slot cooling system
  • Inconvenient position of the power connector
  • Zero overclockability
  • CrossFire bridge is missing among the accessories
  • Full version of the user manual is missing
 
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