Back in August, we reviewed ATI’s all-new high end video card, the Radeon X1950XTX 512MB. It was the first video card to come with GDDR4 memory clocked at fairly dizzy 1GHz (2GHz effective). On the same day, ATI also announced the Radeon X1900XT 256MB at a pretty incredible $279 price point.
It comes with the same specifications as the original Radeon X1900XT 512MB, but with only half of the memory footprint in order to reduce the price. Now that retail stock for Radeon X1900XT 256MB is available in the UK, we thought that it would be worthy of a closer look. Join as we investigate whether the Radeon X1900XT 256MB is a worthy competitor for NVIDIA’s GeForce 7950 GT and GeForce 7900 GT parts, and whether the reduced memory quantity makes any difference to performance.
The Radeon X1900XT 256MB is a familiar sight to anyone that has seen the 512MB version of Radeon X1900XT or ATI’s previous high-end Radeon X1900XTX card. If you are unfamiliar with the GPU architecture, we recommend giving our Radeon X1900 family review a read.
Both PCB design and layout are exactly the same as the other cards that make up the Radeon X1900 family - you also get the familiar Radeon X1900XT reference cooler. In fact, the only difference between this and the 512MB Radeon X1900XT is of course the memory quantity. It shares the same characteristics under the heatsink too, meaning that there are 48 pixel shader processors, 16 texture units, 16 pixel output engines and 8 vertex shaders packed into the 384 million transistors that make up R580.
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We’ve not been particularly impressed with the noise that ATI’s reference cooler emits, but it’s still present on this card. It’s a shame that ATI didn’t choose to include the same cooler that it has used on the Radeon X1950XTX, but there is probably a reason why the company chose to stick with the older cooling solution. We think that it was to keep costs down in order to allow the card to come in at an incredibly attractive price.
To some extent we can forgive ATI for choosing to do this, but we must attach a disclaimer – the card is not particularly quiet under heavy load, as the fan often spins up above its idle state. Although it doesn’t spin to 100% speed, it’s still louder than NVIDIA’s GeForce 7950 GT reference cooler, subjectively speaking. If you’ve got sensitive ears, we recommend looking at a replacement cooler from someone like Arctic Cooling or Zalman.
The card uses eight Samsung 32MB BC12 DRAM chips rated at 1.2ns. These should be good for 833MHz (1666MHz effective), so there should be some room for overclocking – we’ll have a look at that in a bit. In terms of connectivity, there are two dual-link DVI ports, just like the Radeon X1900XT 512MB. There is also a VIVO port on the back bracket, powered by the familiar ATI Rage Theater 200 chip.