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PowerColor X700 PRO: Closer Look

This card looks unpretentious enough, like a majority of RADEON X700 products: a compact PCB of the traditional crimson red color and a small cooler with an aluminum heatsink:

The cooler is not like the one we saw on the reference card – it has a less fanciful shape and sparsely placed ribs and is equipped with a completely different fan with a more efficient design of the blades. The aluminum heatsink is fastened to the PCB with ATI’s traditional spring-loaded clips with fixing pegs that make the fastening more robust. If the pegs are pushed into the clips, you can’t take the clips off without damaging anything. There’s a protruding spot on the heatsink sole where it touches the GPU die through a layer of gray thermal paste. There’s no additional bracket at the back side of the PCB, probably because it’d be just useless here – the heatsink holds firmly enough as it is.

The memory chips are not cooled at all, but that’s not as critical as with the RADEON X700 XT since the memory is clocked at a relatively low frequency. The 2.0ns GDDR3 chips from Samsung installed on the card are rated for 500 (1000DDR) MHz, so there’s a high chance of this product being able to overclock to the level of the RADEON X700 XT. RivaTuner reports that the core of the PowerColor card works at 425MHz, i.e. 5 megahertz above the standard frequency, while the memory is clocked at 423 (864DDR) MHz, exactly like on ATI’s reference card. So, the frequencies are normal, and we meet no surprises from this side.

Noise, Overclocking, 2D Quality

Alas, the cooler of the PowerColor X700 PRO is a bit of disappointment: its fan proved to be noisy and you could easily single its high-frequency voice out among the chorus of the rest of the “sounding” system components. The reference sample from ATI controls the rotational speed of the fan, but the PowerColor does not. The fan speed is a constant and this whizzing sound was getting on our nerves all the time. It’s sad but prospective owners of a PowerColor X700 PRO should say their farewell to silence.

Our overclocking experiments confirmed our suppositions about the good overclockability of the card. It worked stable at 500/1100MHz, i.e. a little above the frequencies of the RADEON X700 XT. A growth of 100 megahertz above the rated frequency is a very good result for 2.0ns memory, by the way. Of course, we had to use an additional 120mm fan for overclocking, to cool the memory chips. We wouldn’t recommend you to repeat our overclocking experiments with this card without taking care first about additional cooling of the memory – the chips are hot at this clock rate and you can damage your graphics card irrevocably in a poorly-ventilated system case. Since our sample sped up to almost the same frequencies as the reference RADEON X700 XT is clocked at, we won’t publish the results of the overclocked PowerColor card in tests – they are almost the same as the results of the RADEON X700 XT.

We check out the image the graphics card outputs in 2D application following the tradition rather than out of any real necessity as almost all modern cards provide an excellent image quality in all resolutions they support. The PowerColor X700 PRO confirms the rule, yielding a crystal-sharp picture up to the 1800x1400@75Hz display mode which is the maximum of the Dell P1110 monitor we use in our labs.

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